We live in an age where there is an unlimited amount of media to consume. We could quite literally spend the entirety of our life trying to catch up with it all, just to die falling laughably short. More so now than ever, people are what we call “fans.” A fan as we use the word usually boils down to “I like said thing,” but what does the word really mean? Merriam-Webster defines the term as “a person with a strong and habitual liking for something.” I’m sure this definition is surprising to no one, but I think it’s worth noting that the term fan has become almost a different word entirely than the root word “Fanatic.” While the definition of the word fan is accurate, I would argue that what we usually are trying to say is simply that we like something. Now, what does any of this have to do with an article that is supposedly about my passion for Halo? Make no mistake, the terms need to be defined. I’m about to sum up for you the effect that Halo has had on my life. Where it began, where it led and how it continues. I am what you would call, a Halo fanatic.
Growing up I had many of the typical hobbies you might expect from a child of the nineties. I loved to watch Dragonball Z, trade Pokémon cards, ride my bike and of course play video games. At the time video games were just one of several different hobbies I had. Sure, I enjoyed them but that is simply all it was, a hobby I had for entertainment. It wasn’t a passion. Through the years my favorite games ranged anywhere from Crash Bandicoot to the eventual pinnacle which was Ocarina of Time. The Legend of Zelda’s Nintendo 64 debut was by far and away the best game I had ever played. It captivated me with it’s “open world” horseback-riding-time-traveling medieval adventure, but it still failed to make it’s mark on me as anything other than just the height of the medium. I didn’t have expectations for anything more really. After all, our parents have probably told us a thousand times, “It’s just a game.” Little did I know that was all about to change.
“I am what you would call, a Halo fanatic.”
It was December 26th, 2004 when I was invited to spend the night at a friends house. As you can imagine we had just made out like bandits on all the gifts from the festivities just a day prior, so what better time to come together and share the joys of our riches. For the life of me I cannot even remember what my gifts were. I was distracted by what my friend Sean had received, a brand new Xbox with the collector’s edition of Halo 2. I wasn’t a fan of the series, I’d never even played it. I was too much of a Nintendo fanboy to desecrate my beloved gaming hands on the hard plastic of a Microsoft owned gaming console. Nonetheless I was bored. To my surprise I find out that my friend had only asked for the console so that he could own every system, not because he had any interest in the actual game, so I asked if I could play. He was more than happy to oblige because let’s be honest, it was basically a shelf ornament. I took the Xbox into the other room and booted up Halo 2. Immediately, I was enthralled by the mesmerizing music that had a way of making you feel pumped while simultaneously making you feel sorrowful. It was beautifully melodramatic. I’ll start the campaign, see if it’s any good.
Cairo station, Outskirts, Metropolis. Minutes turned to hours as I was captivated from the start. I had never played Halo: Combat Evolved. I knew of it’s influence on the industry but I just didn’t care. I wasn’t aware of why it was so popular, I just knew that it was. Soon, I was learning what all the praise was about. Other games I had played up until that point lacked the thematic storytelling, deep lore, interesting characters and stellar soundtrack that Halo had in spades. With each level I wanted to know more. Who is the Master Chief? What is the purpose of the Halo Rings? Why is Sergeant Johnson so freakin’ badass? The gameplay alone could have been enough to grip me but the game just had it all. I continued to play those same three levels on repeat because unfortunately I have to admit I was turned off by the twist of playing as the Arbiter. This was a character I went on to love and very much enjoyed playing as time went on. Needless to say I went home the next morning convinced that I needed an Xbox with Halo 2, it was a matter of life or death.
To my dismay it was another eight months before I was finally able to play Halo again. At the time it seemed unbearable but leant itself to the mythical quality the Halo games had as I anticipated the next time I’d be able to play. I spent that year obsessed with all things Halo. I told my little brother that he should take everything he knows about the best video games he’s played and toss them out the window because Halo was ten times as good as any of them. That may sound ridiculous but I’ve come to equivalate the passion I have for Halo to the experience people must have had when they went to the movie theatre to see the original Star Wars. It just changed everything for them. Halo changed everything for me.
It was August 2005 when my parents came home from the grocery store and asked for my assistance in unloading the groceries. What I thought was a typical day became legitimately one of the best days of my entire life. As I opened the back door to my dad’s truck I saw the brand new Xbox, sealed copy of Halo 2 and an extra controller awaiting me. I was absolutely ecstatic. It was almost an out of body experience having something so damned good happen to you completely out of nowhere. I rushed upstairs to set it up, getting my brother primed for what would be a turning point in our gaming lives. Day turned to night as my brother and I raced through the campaign, fiddled around crashing each other with warthogs on coagulation and talked about the amazing experiences we were having.
These are the moments I’ll never forget. Halo might seem to be just a mere game to most, because by all accounts that’s exactly what it is. To me it became the defining reason I played video games. The defining reason I became enthralled by the possibilities of well written fictional universes. I played other games in this industry just to support my love of Halo, to offset the time I spent playing Halo so that I could come back to it later with a fresh perspective. I am still that way today, twenty-seven years old and married, thinking about anything from the glorious LAN parties to exploring the depths of the lore. I think I’ll always be a Halo fan. It’s had its ups and downs but it’s always been the place I’ve felt most comfortable with.
This blog enables me to share the outpour of passion I have for the series, despite my inept writing abilities. This is just the start of what I have to say and as long as someone is reading I’ll be here writing out my thoughts on the universe I love, Halo.