Yesterday, my local Microsoft Store held a 2v2 Halo 5 tournament in which my best friend and I competed. To say the very least, it was not what I expected.

Going in blind

I knew from the time I heard about the tournament, my biggest weakness was that I had played less than 2 hours of the headlining game prior to entering the tournament. I’m a huge Microsoft fan, but after playing the original beta, Hal0 5 was not really appealing to me when it originally released. It is pretty safe to say, from that perspective, that I was not expecting much from our team. We went in with a plan, horde the power weapon spawns and power-ups and stick together— my partner also knew he was expected to carry me, and honestly I should have kept track of my “Distraction” medals. We ended up taking 3rd place out of the seven teams that showed up, earning a couple of Req packs for our efforts, but that is not quite what I want to talk about, as the tournament far exceeded any expectations I had prior to entering.

Enlightenment

Despite its prevalence, gaming is still held in pretty low regard as a hobby. It’s one of those subjects that when you’re sharing an “interesting fact” about yourself in a work meeting or on syllabus day at school, you tend to suppress because of the associated connotations— or so I told myself. Honestly, I am seeing that many of the negative stereotypes that I had been associating with gaming and gamers were being perpetuated in my own mind. I know the types of people who play video games because I am them and so are my friends, but for whatever reason I still expected to show up to this tournament to find some mix of try-hard dudebros, fedora-clad neckbeards, and preteen squeakers. Despite extensive evidence to the contrary, when confronted with imaging my peers (or in this case opposition) those were the common caricatures with who I expected to come into contact.

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The tournament had its fair share of hitches. We fought off sun glare, dying controllers, and some weird controller settings. We restarted games or refrained from killing each others on-screen personas when an issue arose. We waved our foam fingers and cheered as we watched each other play and congratulated those who beat us. Mall patrons were stopping and watching and feeding off of our energy as well. At the end, there were a few of us who even exchanged gamertags.

That little, 4-hour Halo tournament was huge for me. I’m embarrassed of the position I took when imagining the crowd,but I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to win some in-game currency and even more thankful for the company of my competitors. Gamers are awesome, dude. I’m sorry I doubted us.