So, Part I was a breakdown of my console purchases and what I think is the reason I game (pure, uncut escapism).
This is about my history. Where I came from in the gaming world. What kind of gamer am I? Really, this is the question with the ever-changing answer.
My start as a Nintendo gamer gave me the edge that younger gamers today can’t comprehend. The solo-player sense of accomplishment. The grinding, the restarts, the cheat codes (thank you, Game Genie). The OG Marios, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 2 + 6, Smash TV, Robowarrior, Sky Shark, the indomitable Clash at Demonhead (which I still claim is one of the greatest games of all time), all set me up for a lifetime of nostalgia-fueled gaming addiction. Don’t even get me started on the eventual arrival of Pokemon. That’s for another day.
Yeah, I’ll say it–I was, have been, am…addicted to games. Maybe not clinically, as I can in fact separate myself, but to be completely honest, not for that long.
As I grew older, I gravitated towards the Xbox line, though I always had some sort of Nintendo handheld. I latched onto Microsoft’s home console because they had a plan for dominating their first generation in the video game industry. They introduced Xbox Live in 2002–bringing online gaming mainstream.
So came the creation of GAMERTAGS.
My first name online was Masterorta. For the unitiated, this was the combination of Master Chief and Orta, the protagonist of the outstanding Panzer Dragoon Orta, which came just after Xbox Live’s inception. Live started in late 2002, and I jumped online with the likes of Rainbow Six 3 and Unreal Tournament. Some time would pass before the GOAT Halo 2 arrived on the scene.
Halo 2 was my everything. Of course, I loved the story, the co-op, the hype of the E3 demo prior (seriously, best demo gameplay at the show ever). But the MULTIPLAYER.
O-HO-BOY it was amazing.
I can’t tell you how many days I spent with my friends (one in particular, who is now a pro gamer, ironically) glued to the twenty-something inch CRT television under the glow of the green goo intro that was the Xbox startup screen.
The lock-click sound of the tab moving to “Xbox Live”.
The spray of OG Monster Energy hitting the nostrils just right.
The smooth, marshmallowy cold of M&M McFlurrys on a Saturday night from the pitstop after work.
The slightly homoerotic closeness we had to have to properly communicate, have the best angle to the TV, and be able to not drop our drinks and snacks all over the bed during gameplay…good times.
Halo 2 online was a true obsession, as this was the start of the playing field–of course PC gamers had been doing online for a bit longer, but EVERYONE played Halo 2 at the time. After a few months, I changed to the tag Neo Orta for the 15 hottest months of my gaming career. The need to compete, the need to train was constant. All of us in the scene were compelled to be the best, and Bungie (Halo developer) was more than happy to give us all the tools we needed to keep playing. Video documentaries, daily blogs, in-depth spawn exploration, heat maps, highlight reels, stats on stats on stats. My friends (some real and more online included at this point) created and plugged a clan that saw some success [Blackout Corps]. Some even made the trip to MLG in Chicago.
At that point, my group of Halo friends were all starting to disperse, as the height of Halo 2 online was after my high school graduation. For a brief stint, I worked at a screen-printing company and had three Blackout Corps soccer jerseys made for myself and two best friends with legit Halo logo and avatar icons.
This would be the last hurrah of my most competitive days. I would change my gamertag one final time to Vilos, a combination of my name and the word vile, which was a a spark from a short-lived comic series that I drew during my high school days. The name reminded me of some of my favorite creative moments in my life, so the name stuck for the next 14 years.
P.S. For those that like stats:
- MASTERORTA: (Blackout Virus) Halo 2–431 Games 3,500 K 4,030 D From 2/16/05 til 4/10/05 avg 8 games/day
- NEO ORTA: (Blackout Corps) Halo 2–1,760 Games 15,216 K 14,923 D From 4/15/05 til 7/20/06 [71 pages of data] *avg 18 games/day
- VILOS: Halo 2–135 Games 1,419 K 1,319 D From 11/03/06 til 10/17/08