About three years ago I was dealing with a lot of things in my life. Insecurity and low self esteem fueled a heavy depression. I had let myself become rather unsocial, not doing much outside of my shrinking group of close friends. Wanting more out of my life I grabbed at the small joys of mine music, movies, and video games. This is a story about how my indulgance in the latter wound up changing my world at the time, and leaving me with a fondness for that period of my life
After a few years of anticipation on September 25, 2007 Halo 3 was released. I made a huge deal out of this. The game before it had ended on a cliff hanger and I was eager to finish the story. More importantly the game had a midnight release and I had a bunch of vacations days to waste. I purchased a cake for my co-workers the day before with the words 'Happy Haloday' in icing on it. I was mocked, but I brushed it off. I was really excited. I drug my friend Neil along with me to the midnight launch. There were two video game stores in our mall at the time and both had very long lines. I believe we arrived about 2 hours before midnight and our line was the length of one of our malls wings. The other line was longer and trailed outside.
Now for those of you who don't know Neil, there are two things that make him uber cranky and no fun at all. And those are being hungry and being tired. By the time midnight rolled around he was both. I tried to keep things lite, but it wasn't easy. Sure the game released at midnight, but it was well over 30 min before we actually got in the store. Oh man, but those 30 min were a ton of fun. People who had bought the super expensive packaging that came with a helmet were holding them up high. There were people shouting and jumping as they came out of the store. It was an experience for sure. Similar to a midnight movie premier, but different. You didn't experience the same things with everyone at the same time. You had to wait your turn. And even then some people were leaving with more stuff or a better product than you. That night I started to get a sense of the community that was growing around this game.
Five days, that's how much vacation time I took off to devote my free time to dominating this game. I quickly beat the campaign and loved every minuet of it. Then I moved on to the multiplayer, and that's where this story really begins. I began to meet people online who were casual gamers like me, who I began to play with on a regular basis. The first of these of which were the Jerrys, a father and son team whom shared the same name. They introduced me to Maximus the 1st. Max and I formed a quick and strong friendship. One that I sadly feel I've neglected as our lives have changed. We found that we had much in common outside the game as well as our gaming styles in general. Together Max and I started gaming with each other on a daily basis. We would find others who shared our style and added them to our group, inviting them to play. It wasn't long till most of us had friendships with each other outside of the game thus starting the crazy late night calls of "I got the crew together and we're playing in 30 min. Be there!"
That's how Young Guns was born. A clan on casual people who while in the game played a serous match, but had good spirits when we lost. And that happened more than we liked to admit. Our little group spanned world wide with our favorite Auzie Raz always chiming in with the humor. We didn't just play matches. We'd take posed shots of our team and discuss our logo and in-game etiquette or whatever to fill the time.
One player who we all loved was Stratocaster73. Strat's real name was Brian, and he was dieing of cancer. He could only play with us for short periods of time and at odd hours, but he always had the most positive of attitudes. He showed us every night how we shouldn't focus on the negative and how life was what we made it. Brian died a little over a year ago. He was a great man and knowing him changed me and I know he touched the others too, especially Raz. Because of his memory I'll never take life for granted.
I bet by now you're wondering why I've take the time to share all this. Well it's a new Haloday today. Tonight Halo: Reach will be released. But instead of me being on the edge of my seat like I was last time, I meet this Haloday with sadness. You see, a little before Brian passed away our group started to fall apart. Slowly but surely new games came out, peoples lives moved on, and I started focusing on improving my life outside of the game. I barely talk to the guys anymore. Sadly Max and I only talk every few months. But a few days ago Max sent me a message it read: "Are you getting Halo Reach next week? A couple of the Young Guns contacted me about getting together and Playing. But it wouldn't be the same without our Captain!" My heart sank. I'll admit I teared up a bit. I hadn't planned on making this Halo a part of my life, at least not immediately. I missed the YG crew. Would it be the same? Could it be the same without Brian? I don't know, I doubt it. I for one I don't have the same time to put into this one that I did the last. And regardless I can't afford it. But I wish I could. If for nothing more than to spend time with some good friends and enjoy the first few experiences together.
Thanks Young Guns, you guys are awesome. I wish you the best of experiences. I'll join when I can.
Catch you on the flip side.