Students spend night ‘killing’ each other for prizes

In most cases, hearing the words “You beat down a Jew” would be a cause for alarm. Being told that “a tiny testie killed you” would probably raise some questions. And a lot of people would have a moral problem if “Bags of Jay sniped a Big Penis.”

But at the official “Halo 3” Launch Party last Wednesday, Oct. 10th, the only meaning these phrases had was another point closer to or further from victory.

While some of the in-game names used by players may not have been appropriate, the timing of the event certainly was. The party, hosted in the Allen drawing room by the Association of Computing Machines (ACM), came just two weeks after the third installation of the popular shooting game hit shelves. Within just a few minutes of the launch party’s official start time, 8 p.m., the drawing room felt claustrophobic.

While many of the attendees had already played the game extensively, ACM’s event was not just another party. Microsoft, the game’s publisher, officially sponsored the party and agreed to provide ACM with free Xbox 360 games to use as prizes.

“We’re one of 20 colleges nationwide chosen to host an official party,” Kate Lynch, senior digital arts major and president of ACM, said.

“We don’t know why they chose us,” Autumn Breese, sophomore computer science major and vice president of ACM, said. But she added that “Microsoft has a prior deal with this school.”

Lynch said that Microsoft was sponsoring the parties in order to hype up another event, Imagine Cup.

“The Imagine Cup is a competition for people who want to design video games, produce films or design user-interfaces,” she said. “The winners become an actual game development team that gets to make a game sponsored by Microsoft.”

To get that hype Microsoft had provided ACM with a number of free items to give out at the party, including pens, T-shirts and copies of game-making software for beginning programmers.

ACM’s reason for hosting the event, according to Lynch, was less about advertising and more about the gamers themselves. “We’re trying to advocate social gaming,” she said. She hoped that the event would show gamers how much fun it was to play each other in person, as opposed to playing each other online.

But only an hour into the party that goal saw a setback: all six of the screens being used to play “Halo 3” shut down simultaneously. Too many systems plugged into too few outlets had overloaded the drawing room’s circuits and blown out the power.

Over the course of the next half hour the screens turned on and went black a second time.

“We can just go home and play in our rooms,” muttered one student who left.

“I didn’t come here to watch the power go out,” Matt Boyle, a junior political science major, said.

But others saw the blowout as a chance for opportunity. “Maybe enough people will leave and we’ll be able to actually play,” Ian London, sophomore open-options Culture and Society major, said, referring to the mobs of players that were now thinning out.

By 9:30 p.m. the systems were running again and over 30 players resumed their seats to commence the night’s tournament. It was single elimination, two vs. two team slayer, which, for those who don’t frequently join “frag-fests,” means two players were working together to try and shoot two other players.

The tournament lasted until after midnight, when the final game ended 19-16. Jim Durkin, senior mechanical engineering major, and Eddie Jones, junior mechanical engineering and computer engineering major, came out on top.

Their advice to other “Halo 3” players?

“Don’t play us if you want to win,” Durkin joked as he helped pack up all of the equipment.

“It’s all about reaction times,” Jones said, adding, “Know your maps.”

Durkin also won the raffle for a second free copy of the game. He walked out of Wednesday night’s event with a total of $120 in prizes.

$120 in three hours. Not bad for a night of gaming.