As the sun set on Halo 2, the Halo Nation turned on the lights for Halo 3. Granted, the street date had been breached by hundreds – or thousands – of clever gamers who would not sit still for the midnight hour that ushered in the launch of our hotly anticipated killer application. Yet, on that fateful day, there was still a reckoning…
Millions of shrink-wrapped discs were pried open by anxious trigger fingers. Friends lists that had been pulled in numerous directions by various titles were unified by a single game. The clans were united, even if they couldn’t find themselves yet. Even Xbox.com started to sweat under the onslaught of gamers who were sending data through the nerve center – pinging and messaging one another to assemble on the new beach.
While all of this was happening, one curious gaming anthropologist was collecting screen-grabs of Bungie’s Nightmap. Have you seen it? Like Professor Xavier’s Cerebro, it’s a constant readout of all the gamers who are playing Halo 3 at any moment. Concentrate on all of them hard enough, and you could score an Extermination Medal.
While you were in line at [you know], a veteran of Halo 2 was collecting status updates on the repopulation of the Halo Nation every 30 minutes. From 4:20** PM on September 24th through 3:58 PM on September 25th, Sunburned Goose tracked us as we anted in, logged on, and suited up to Finish the Fight.
The image depicted is a time lapse replay of a virtual invasion. As of publishing time, the frequency of live combat maneuvers continues to escalate.
More than an animated GIF, this is a view of history in the making. The largest release in the history of the mass media spread across the United States like an infection of Flood spores. From the East Coast, through the MidWest*, and to the West Coast after an unexpected leapfrog over the Rocky Mountains. Europe was hit as well, along with a light and sporadic sprinkling across the rest of the globe.
This is the hardcore fanbase. They are the Forerunner. Over a 24 hour period, they all had one thing in common. After months of desperate impatience, they all took control of their favorite game when the maker said go.
*moving to undisclosed location
**[insert 420 joke here]