In 2005, Halo 2 was the game. My high school friends and I played it religiously -- having late night LAN parties with one TV upstairs and one in the basement. College brought a network that spanned the entire school, allowing for one to plug into the wall and join any game that was connected.
After a while, [warning: self-back patting ahead] I became somewhat of a legend among Halo 2 players. When my dorm held a Halo 2 tournament, I heard a few people talking about Grishnack and decided to admit that I was him. “Fuck you” someone told me, “You always own me.” I narrowly won the tournament and made a few friends on my floor who played the game. I also earned my college nickname: Grish.
The reason my grades weren't great.
But after more roommate drama, I decided I needed a move. I had heard rumblings that the sixth floor of my building was the “Halo floor” -- that all the most skilled, trash-talkingest and most ardent players lived there. I found my people.
Once I moved there and people found out Grishnack moved to their floor, I put faces to screen names. Some were bro-dudes, some were nerds, some were just your everyday college guys. But we all shared the common love of killing one another -- a bond that brought people of all different social groups together.
But I still wasn't “friends” with these people. They knew me through Halo 2 and only Halo 2. I wouldn't eat dinner with them or go out to parties with them. I was glad to have acquaintances on some level, but I still didn't seem to have as many friends as my high school buddies did at their schools.
Fast-forward to my senior year. After meandering around with a few close friends, I finally broke out of my shell and realized what everyone was talking about when they say college years are some of the best of your life. Most of the Halo 2 crew had graduated and the game had fallen out of popularity. Halo 3 wasn't nearly as big for as long, although I finally found a good roommate and that's how we first bonded.
But my floor was still heavily into videogames and I first found my best college friends through gaming. I would simply walk by someone's room, see them playing a game, strike up a conversation and bam, we'd be playing Smash Brothers or some Wii game.
My final two semesters at college were far too short, as the friends I had made were all awesome -- people who were into games as much as I was and people I hung out with outside of virtual worlds. We could spend a Friday night playing Brawl or Mario Kart or go to some house party, get drunk and pretend we were running to the safe house or we were Boomers as we puked. It was great.
That stomach is full of Bud Light.
I made some great memories senior year and left college on a high note. I went from a quiet kid from a small town on the Cape, to Grish -- a socially normal college guy with a bunch of great friends. And I have gaming to thank for that.
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