Halo almost ended my relationship. Now we’re playing again

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If you were with your partner for long enough, you don’t even need to hear him clear his throat before you know what he’s about to say. After I clicked on Halo: The Master Chief Collection and waited for it to install on my computer, I noticed a stillness in the air. I looked up and saw my husband looking at me in awe. “On a sunny day in Berkeley, I played this game for eight hours straight,” he said.

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“I know,” I said. “I was here.”

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I was not exactly there, of course. I was in the next room, getting restless. If you are of a certain age, you cannot be unaware of Halo. Halo was an Xbox killer app, an extremely addictive first person shooter with amazing gameplay in an immersive world. It spawned sequels, franchises, even TV shows.

Even if you didn’t know anything about video games, you knew about Halo. Did you know about Halo even if you specifically not to want know anything about Halo. My whole bachelor life spanned eight years, which Halo was dominant. Halo was my enemy. i hated Halo how Taylor Swift hated popular cheerleaders. Halo it’s the game that almost broke up with my current husband.

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If you live or lived next to a gamer without being a gamer yourself, you probably know what it means to consider the game as your personal enemy. Maybe it was Halo or Gears of War. Today maybe fortnite or Apex Legends. Here it would be easiest to write from the point of view of the offended partner. While there is debate about whether video game addiction is real mental illnessmost people who study it agree that the compulsive allure of games is unsettling.

It would also be easy to write about toxicity in games which turns women off. I don’t dispute that it exists, but it doesn’t matter to me. Both now and then, my current husband and his friends did everything they could to encourage me to join them.

In a disconcertingly ironic turn of events, games have become one of the main paths that my husband and I now spend time together. Seventeen years after I issued a passionate ultimatum that he would simply had to stop playing so muchI finally discovered that it’s fun to have a hobby that we can both do together at home. Before we had kids (and the global pandemic), we used to go rock climbing or mountain biking together. Now we log in after the kids are asleep and yell “Strafe, motherfucker, strafe!” Each other.

Both my husband and everyone who knows me asked why I took so long. Seventeen years after that, it’s hard to understand why I couldn’t bring myself to play. As far as I can understand, this is what stopped me:

The game is physically hard. Games require incredible fine motor control. If you’ve been playing video games all your life, you might not even understand that moving joysticks and pressing buttons to coordinate movement, shooting, and camera angles at the same time is difficult. If you don’t have a console, it’s hard to ask a queue to practice.

I am also prone to motion sickness. The gap between the fast, breathtaking movement on the screen and my sedentary body is a lot for my poor inner ear. When I can, I play standing and moving, and I usually adjust after two or three sessions. But you need to be pretty confident with your companions if you get up and burp from time to time.

The game design is not intuitive. As with any medium, game designers tend to make consistent decisions that fans can anticipate. After you have watched enough films, you know when the director wants you to look over the shoulder of a character.

If you are a player with even average experience, you probably know a lot of things that you are not even aware of. If you’re new, asking such obvious questions is embarrassing. How can I get out of this room? Find the door that looks weird. Yes, but strange as? How to pick up ammo? Walk back and forth over this dead body. Which? Isn’t that how you go grocery shopping in real life?

The game was not the same. The last one confused me for a long time. I just didn’t think I’d like it Halo. Everyone who knew me also assumed that I wouldn’t.

People who know me personally usually offer story games like fire department or Kentucky Route Zero. Although I appreciate the artistry, the slow pace makes me sleepy. Mario Kart I get bored after 15 minutes. After years of pampering, it turned out that I am only fully involved when I am in adrenaline fear for my life. For me, as for everyone else, it was a big surprise that I love first-person shooters.

It brings me back to today. When I started catching up on the games I missed and listening to people rave about them, like Fallout New Vegas, Bloodyor SkyrimIt became increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that I never once played my husband’s favorite game. He never raved about it. For the last 10 years, I haven’t thought about it.

When you are young, many things seem black and white to you. There are good people and bad people; most decisions are a straight yes or no. Relationships are binary. They either work or they don’t. However, if you’re with someone long enough, you might just find weird accidents in the big gray gloom that surrounds all those big decisions. The biggest thing that has happened in 17 years is the development of trust. Finally, it became normal to suck.

If it was a delightful surprise for my husband that I suddenly decided to take up games, then it was also a surprise for me that he hardly remembered anything. HaloAt least not as much as me. Aliens dug into my brain, but it was just a game to him. Also, he played it 17 years ago.

“This doesn’t look familiar at all,” he said in the introduction to Halo: CE Anniversary started playing.

Do you remember what it was? I said. “Was it Halo 2?

“May be?” he said. As millions of people know Halo the series is…great. The plot develops rapidly, and the gameplay is a pleasure. I was blown away by how great a 10 year old game looked, how long life can be, and the fact that the game that nearly ruined our relationship is now one we can finally play together. “We should probably start at the beginning of the series and go through them sequentially,” he said. And then maybe check Rock.

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