Halo

In the fiction of the Halo universe, Master Chief is a supreme badass. Look at him in that trailer there, taking on twenty-foot tall space monsters like he hasn’t got a care in the world. Look at the way he moves, stringing together action after action after action. It’s balletic. Brutal, but graceful.

When I play the game, Master Chief is a braindead meatbag who is more likely to die in the first five minutes by throwing a grenade at his own feet because the person controlling him is trying to figure out what each button does. The kind of idiot who jumps into a firefight with one bullet in the clip, so he spends the next 10 seconds getting riddled with bullets as he stands there, reloading. He’s a moron whose neck muscles are made of jelly, so he spends almost the entire game looking either straight up or straight down.

This is because I’m not great at Halo1.

I’ve accepted that I’m not great at certain games. Most games, to be honest. I’m okay with this. I muddle through. I’ll die a lot and eventually limp across the finish line. My death-count in VVVVVV stands in the couple-hundreds, but this is fine, because I’m getting through the game at my own pace. This is how I get my money’s worth.

Except with Halo, this approach seems wrong, like it’s missing the point. The main character, Master Chief, is not supposed to be the kind of person who just “muddles through”. I realise how stupid and overwrought this sounds, but I don’t feel like I’m doing justice to the character. The Halo story I’m playing out is wrong: my Master Chief doesn’t deserve any awe or respect.

And this is why it takes me months to finish an 8-hour game of Halo.


  1. I have no battlefield tactics and poor muscle co-ordination and I get twitchy when I’m nervous, so I tend to accidentally hit R3 a lot (binocular view) and will suddenly find myself zoomed into the nose of the enemy standing not two feet from me. It then takes me five seconds to remember what button I’m supposed to hit to get me out of binocular view, by which time I’m probably dead. ↩︎

Movies, 2012

One of the resolutions I made at the beginning of 2012 was that I would document every single film I watched. I actually stuck to this resolution.

Here are ten of the best I saw this year:

Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

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Are you fucking kidding me? I spent my entire life avoiding this film, thinking it would be a big, bloated mess, only good for background noise during your post-Christmas dinner nap. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was mesmerized by this film.

Silver Linings Playbook, 2012

SL

If you’d have told me that David O. Russell would give us us one of sweetest, most tender depictions of depression and mental illness I can remember seeing, I would have called you a fucking jackass. But that’s exactly what he did.

The Master, 2012

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I’m still not sure exactly what I saw or what it’s saying, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I saw it.

Moonrise Kingdom, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

My favourite Wes Anderson film since Rushmore.

Magic Mike, 2012

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Balls to the haters, this was fun. When I went to see it, I was one of only three men in a crowded screening. That was one of the most hilarious cinema experiences I’ve ever had and I thank Magic Mike for giving me that.

Dredd, 2012 / The Raid, 2011

Dredd 3D

This is my blog and I’ll lump these two in together if I want to. They had similar setups, but as action films go, they both did great jobs of scratching totally different itches. And they were the two best action movies I saw all year.

The Cabin in the Woods, 2011

Cabin in the Woods

Why do they even have that button?

50/50, 2011

50/50

A great little film that could have been lost underneath the egos of the actors involved. Fortunately, it wasn’t.

Argo, 2012

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Even if the film wasn’t any good (it was), this would be on here for Ben Affleck’s beard alone.

Indie Game: The Movie, 2012

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A lot of documentaries this year didn’t seem to have anything to say and were content to just be a collection of unconnected vignettes (Queen of Versailles, for example, has no through-line, the makers just happened to be in the right place at the right time). Indie Game: The Movie did a great job of shining a light on the vast wealth of human emotions that go into something as apparently frivolous as an independent video game.

New Year's Rulin's →

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Woody Guthrie’s new year’s resolutions. Words to live by.

DIY Bacon

This changes everything.

Battery Movies

What’s the benefit here? I’m not sure I buy the argument that long-form storytelling gives the material room to breathe, or even shows particular fidelity to the writings of Tolkien, Rowling, etc. I fear the real motivation is more cynical than that. It’s the movie equivalent of pumping chickens full of water – bulking out the produce to maximise revenue.

Worst ideas of 2012: the rise of the multi-part movie

pulchritude

pulchritude

A paradoxical noun because it means beauty but is itself one of the ugliest words in the language. Same goes for the adjectival form pulchritudinous. They’re part of a tiny elite cadre of words that possess the very opposite of the qualities they denote. Diminutive, big, foreign, fancy (adjective), colloquialism, and monosyllabic are some others; there are at least a dozen more. Inviting your school-age kids to list as many paradoxical words as they can is a neat way to deepen their relationship to English and help them see that words are both symbols for things and very real things themselves.

– David Foster Wallace, word notes in the Apple dictionary for “Beauty”

Making a video game without video →

There’s something truly wonderful about JSJ. It’s a performance-piece that brings video games back to pure play. And it’s so beautifully simple. In the video, Doug Wilson talks about how he came up with the idea for the game and how it was an “oh!” moment.

Plus, now is probably a good time to pimp their Kickstarter, which will help release JSJ to a wider audience.

Freaks and Geeks →

1999:

2012:

How To Run a 5 Whys (With Humans, Not Robots) →

5 Whys are really useful for sorting out an issue in the correct way, but it’s hard to run a good 5 Whys. Dan Milstein’s presentation is a great starting point.

Two Things (Gibson TTS and Fictional Memory Palaces) | booktwo.org

If you play a lot of video games, or a lot of a video game, you slowly learn the map, it stays in your head. It doesn’t exist, it’s an imaginary place, but you can find your way around in it, even give directions within it.

A shared fiction is like a shared map, a space we can inhabit, a shared memory palace, even for a brief period.

Gibson TTS and Fictional Memory Palaces