'Halo 3' gamers destroy aliens
night after night in nationwide college fad
By Jackson Olsen
December 11, 2007 | As the aroma of freshly delivered
pizza filled the room, Tron Arnold, Brett Bodily and
Lucy Ward (a.k.a. Slut, V and Wonder Woman) prepared
themselves mentally and physically for what would no
doubt be an evening of high spirits, competition and
Bodily, a senior majoring in accounting, hosted the
event in his parents' living room, as is customary.
A newly opened bag of Cinnamon Bears purchased by Arnold
for a dollar at the Six Star Outlet Store was passed
around the room, followed shortly by Twizzler Cherry
Bites. Meanwhile Bodily readied the Xbox and controllers.
All of the elements of an enjoyable digital bloodbath
were coming together.
"Being in Logan, it's kind of boring sometimes,
so you have to make your own fun. Movies and TV get
old if you do it every night. Halo is just another way
to mix things up a bit," said Arnold, a sophomore
majoring in creative writing.
For the next several hours, the trio exchanged fire,
insults and explosives while playing one of today's
hottest video games. While some would be appalled at
the casual violence and electronic gore emitting from
their television screen, for these three, it was business
For Arnold and Bodily, this has been a tradition several
years old -- almost as old as the game itself. Halo:
Combat Evolved first hit the market in 2001, selling
more than 5 million copies worldwide, according to Bungie
Studios, the game's creator. Since then it has been
established as one of the premiere first-person shooter
video games, third only to its sequels Halo 2, and Halo
3, all of which tell the story of the human race's struggle
with alien invaders in the distant future. Collectively,
the Halo games have sold more than 20 million copies
worldwide, raking in more than $800 million.
The Halo phenomenon has spread to college campuses
across the country, and is no longer limited to the
confines of living rooms and basements. Many college
clubs and groups sponsor tournaments and weekend retreats
where literally hundreds of students gather in friendly
competition. Arnold and Bodily and their "crew"
usually travel to Ogden Canyon, where a friend loans
them their timeshare for an evening.
"It's a party. We usually have a barbecue, and then
we just play Halo from about 7 p.m. till 7 a.m. We'll
have multiple TVs going and link a bunch of Xboxes together.
That way more of us can play at once," Arnold said.
Traditionally, these gatherings are a dizzying combination
of video game violence, junk food and testosterone,
but they aren't always fun and games. It's not uncommon
to see someone lose their cool in the heat of the competition.
"I've seen people hit themselves repeatedly because
they kept getting killed," Bodily said. "People get
Ward, who cuts meat at Sam's Club when she's not spending
time with her friends, is relatively new to the game,
and said she only started playing because her "guy friends"
needed an extra player. The rookie female denounced
the idea that Halo was a "man's game." She said she
enjoys playing the game just as much as the next person.
Her favorite part is the comical interaction between
the participants, albeit sometimes ugly.
"I hear a lot of funny name calling, and a lot of
people hitting each other or throwing their controllers
at each other in frustration," Ward said.
When asked whether playing Halo interfered with school,
both Arnold and Bodily were quick to disown the notion.
Ward, who doesn't attend school, said the same in regard
to her work. However, all three agreed on the game's
addicting nature and said it's potentially hazardous
to someone trying to study or do homework.
A study done by Elizabeth A. Vandewater, Ph.D., of
the University of Michigan, concluded that 36 percent
of students play video games on a regular basis. The
same study found that the students who played video
games were less likely to complete homework assignments
than those who didn't. On average the students would
play video games anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour
on weekdays, and almost double that on weekends.
Ward is not blind to the issue, and said she sometimes
feels guilty for playing the game.
"I know there are other things that I could do
that would be more beneficial to me, but I just like
playing it," Ward said while trying desperately
to stay alive. She ended the evening in last place.