What Halo Taught Me and Can Teach Us By: Constantine 6/16/08 Tags: Childhood, gaming, Halo, anger, violence, psychology It's just hit eleven PM and I'm sitting in a comfy rocking chair basking in the bright glow of my TV, awaiting my next round of Team Slayer to begin. I sit and listen to the crowd of players chat amongst themselves and feel both disgusted and a bit of humor. Playing Halo 3 is an experience in and of itself. It's similar to World of Warcraft in the way that you can meet hundreds of new people in only an hour and also be completely humiliated to call yourself a human. What the hell are you talking about? For those who have been living under copious amounts of rubble or simply do not keep in touch with the entertainment world, Halo 3 is the latest (possibly last) installment in the multi-million dollar video game series. It's a story of universal struggle for power and the ultimate quest: saving the world. However, the story is the reason probably about 2% of people give for playing it. The other 98% go for the multiplayer. Halo's multiplayer is not anything special, it's not anything new or innovative, it's simply addicting. It's easy to navigate and control and thus, the most simple of simpletons can join in on the action. Halo is an FPS, or First Person Shooter meaning that the player assumes the role of the main character as if he/she was actually controlling the character on screen, seeing straight through their own eyes. Halo Players Everyone has their stereotypes whether they think so or not, even the most politically correct people do. When it comes to Halo, there are several categories. We have your typical nerds, who are the frighteningly good players who make the rest of us feel inadequate in our gaming prowess. Then you have the "fags" who are called so because it is the only word in their vocabulary next to phrases such as "you are" and "are you a". Lastly, you have your casuals who don't play the game for glory so much as they play because others are. So what are you getting at? What I'm getting at, is that Halo is the perfect way to get into the heads of young children. See, one reason children and us young folk love online gaming so much, is because it gives the gift of anonymity, meaning that you do not have to have any inhibitions and you can say whatever you want. This is much too big of a draw for most to handle and you end up experiencing a pretty disturbing world. Now, I'm not doing this to give snooty parenting groups ideas for game bashing, I'm merely reflecting on my first two months playing Halo 3. Using Penny Arcade's theory (a pretty decent webcomic, check it out) of: Average Joe + anonymity + audience = total fuckwad, it's easy to just shrug off what kids say on Halo 3 as just mindless insulting, jeering, and chest pumping. However, I think it may be more than something so simple. Are our kids set to "mute"? Online communities expose people for who they are because it allows people to experience a new life basically. By giving them the opportunity to start out in a new place with no visible body or readable history, they're free to shape themselves how they please. Now, some may build themselves to fit in, but I'm betting most do it in a fashion that exposes a lot of who they are underneath. I think it's quite possible that we can see who a young kid really is by how he/she represents him or herself online. Some people may agree with me, but I think kids are being closed in a lot more than they ever used to be. Sure, there's all kinds of encouragement to talk to your kids and to get them to give out their inner feelings, but we do a lot to chase kids away, too. They experience such a strange world that sends so many contradicting messages (you can kill people legally at 18 but you can't share a beer with your dad until 21, you can drive a car at 16 but not buy condoms until 18 in some places) that they don't know whether they're young adults or stupid children. Many kids resort to journals or online sources such as Myspace or Facebook to vent. However, with newer outlets where kids can actually get angry and mean without consequence, I think we're beginning to see just how angry this generation really is. I can't recall how many times I've heard young kids call each other fags, tell each other to suck dicks, to die, to fuck themselves, etc. Now I'm also a preacher of the idea that words are powerless outside of the power we give them, but these kids know no other way to express such things. Play a game of Halo, you'll see. So why did I read this? My only real point here is that online worlds attract many kids and many of them are pretty damn angry so I ask you, why? Why are the youth of the industrialized world so homophobic, so hateful, and so vengeful? Yes, some of them are just poor sports and bullies, but what about the other ones who become different people when they play? Doesn't this speak volumes about our societies, that we have a generation of angry, bottled up children whose only out tends to be something like gaming?