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Post Column: Online play friendlier than gamer expected

This past weekend, I explored the wonderful online universe of Xbox Live for the first time.

I’ve owned my Xbox for more than a year and a half, but my gameplay has always been reserved for the campaigns. I would say that I just like following the story lines, characters and finding all the fun side quests, but I’ve always been a little too lazy to dish out the money that it costs ($60 a year for unlimited Gold access).

According to Mark Whitten, general manager of Xbox Live, the service has more than 40 million users. That means more than half of all Xbox owners play on Live.

For me, playing Live was quite an experience. Every time I mention wanting to play Live with another gamer, I hear about how many comments will be made about my gender. I had hoped it would go a little something like one of my favorite College Humor videos, “Xbox Girls Strike Back.” It features several girls in a game with only one guy, throwing sexualized comments at him that are often directed just at girls. It ends with the guy crying, calling them all names and declaring that he will never play again.

I didn’t want to hit on any of the gamer guys — just throw a bit of trash talking in as I killed them over and over again, racking up killstreaks and all sorts of accolades I imagined were possible. I was quite determined to battle the online male world.

It wasn’t quite like that.

A friend and I started out playing Halo 3. I’m too poor and not a big enough Halo fan to buy the newest of the series, so I resorted to the one I have owned for a while. There weren’t many people still playing this game online, but it was enough to get my feet wet.

I know I’m not the best at first-person shooters, but Live made me realize that I’m actually pretty terrible at them. Half the time, I just drove around on the vehicles hidden in the maps and tried to get my kills from splattering opponents. Needless to say, you probably don’t want me on your team in Halo. Ever.

I moved on to Black Ops 2, the November release from the Call of Duty franchise. Whitten stated that combined with the release of Halo 4 the week before, gamers spent a total of 443 million hours on Live that week.

I really like the Call of Duty games;  I think they’re much more realistic, interesting and frankly a little bit easier to play for an amateur like me. There are hundreds of thousands of online players for this game. Most had ranks in the range of 40-70. I worked my way up to 14.

One of the things about Live I was so excited for was to wear a headset and talk to other players. Most people don’t use microphones, from what I could see, but the few who did were often pretty hilarious to listen to.

My favorite person I met was an 11-year-old boy I will call Young Gun — his gamer tag was something along those lines. Young Gun initially made contact with me bragging about his kills. He had about five that round (still more than me but a bit pathetic compared to the 40 that the leader of our team had).

I’d like to think that Young Gun continued to talk to me because of my wonderful wit and charm, but I think he just wanted someone to think he was good at the game. He later started to boss me around, demanding that I stand watch for him in a sniping window, as he showed off by blowing up a car, and that I follow him around the whole round.

Overall, I’m pretty surprised with how open everyone I played with was. I commend everyone I played against this weekend. They all made me see what I was missing in the gaming world. They’ll definitely be seeing me play online again — I’ll get better, I promise.

Sophie Kruse is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. Send her your online gaming experiences at sk139011@ohiou.edu.

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