Just last night, with one arm tied behind my back while eating the last slice of pizza, I finally won the match of Halo 3 that put me over the top and earned me the coveted Olive Branches of a General. I had to mute the microphone on my headset to spare my teammates the deafening roar of the fireworks display that erupted just outside my window, lovingly provided by the Chicago Fire Department. Those guys…
Later that evening, Bill Gates called to congratulate me. His call went straight to voicemail, unfortunately. My gamer publicist was on the phone, squaring away details for my appearance on David Letterman next week. My blogger agent was holding on the other line, clenching his fists in anticipation of telling me how much Random House Publishing was willing to pay me to option my life story.
Little sleep came to me. The damned paparazzi had commissioned helicopters in a bid to catch a glimpse of the Halo Nation’s newest General walking his dog. Never ones to give up the chase, they buzzed my house all night long. Bastards! Don’t they know I am a crack shot with a missile pod? I mean, I have the rank to prove it!
This morning, I readied myself for work. I opened the box labeled “Do not open until skill level 50 obtained!”. With an appreciative grin, I donned the Mjolnir replica armor procured for me off ebay as a congratulatory present from the Gunslingers. It fit like a glove.
With a kiss on the side of the helmet from the wife, I was off to tackle the world. “Go get ‘em, Tiger!” she called after me as I strode to the elevator. Passing through the lobby of my building, I slapped a high-five with my doorman. He beamed at me with a wide smile. “How DO you DO it?” he amazed. I told him something about it all being in the wrist, not having the heart to tell him that the wizardry behind elite skills like mine cannot be explained using words – they are either born into a gamer, or they are not. Better to sustain his sense of awe than deflate it with explanations that he would never fathom.
To avoid the throng of reporters on the sidewalk, I decided to take my car. Also, I was itching to drive the real-live Warthog that had been given to me by Peter Jackson and the boys at WETA in recognition of my triumph. As I fishtailed out of the garage, I issued my signature three-beat honk from that all-too familiar horn. Seeing those gossip hounds chase after me was a rush, just like outrunning all those base defenders while their flag rode shotgun.
As I arrived at work, a hush fell over the office. Curious eyes peered over cube walls to catch a glimpse of the gamer who had been profiled on the morning edition of every news network on television. Having my players icon on the cover of the New York Times might have tipped a few of them off as well. The receptionist stood at attention as I strode into the lobby. “The President of the Company is anxious to have a word with you…” she said, and added a “Sir!” just a beat too late. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment at almost forgetting to honor my hard-earned rank.
The boss stood from his chair as I entered his office. His handshake was firm – his stare awestruck. “You are a credit to this company” he affirmed in a steady, level voice. “There is little I can do to express how proud we are of you, Son!” I accepted his praise with a single nod. “I think your job will do itself today” he continued. “Take the day off. You’ve earned it!”
Just as well. I was going to have to skip out at lunch anyway. At high noon, I was slated on the Mayor’s schedule. This gamer was being recognized as a hometown hero by being presented with the key to the city.
The ceremony was pandemonium in the streets. I ascended a parade float that was a functioning facsimile of the Elephant Base on Sandtrap. With a single shot fired from one of the turrets, I initiated our victorious march down LaSalle Street. White-gloved police locked arms to suppress thousands of adoring fans that strained to breach the barricades that lined the streets. Enough ticker tape littered the sky to block out the sun. Women hurled flowers and unmentionable articles of clothing from every office window. Those that didn’t beg me to marry them demanded that I father their child. I failed to admit that I was already happily married, and that – for a leaderboard denizen like me – nothing would distract from my conquests more than the impracticalities of fatherhood. A girl is entitled to her dream, after all.
This glorious event was cut tragically short when a shot rang out in the crisp October afternoon. Riding on the front of a tell-tale contrail, a sniper’s bullet pierced my neck brace and sent me crashing down to the street below. Was it a poor sport? A jealous hater? A deranged lunatic hoping to impress a child actor? This was not for me to know. I was about to unlock the final acheivement of solving the great mystery behind the cosmic respawn. I could barely hear the crowd shreak in terror as brain-death took me. In the instant that the world faded to black, I thought to myself:
“Just as well. I got to become a General in Halo. Everything else in this life would have been downhill from here anyway…”
Then I died.
As you might have guessed from the title of this article, everything above the line is a lie – except for the “happily married” thing. Yet, with all the fuss we hear about rank in Halo 3, you would think that a scenario like this does await us all at the end of the quest.
I regret to inform you that this is not the case, fare gamer. The only true reward that the game affords is the playing of the game itself. How you play the game is the only real measure of the respect you deserve. The rest is just window dressing to make sure that you are matched up against the right people.
Be excellent to each other…