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FTW

McGonigal chose expertly when identifying the Halo series in her discussion of epic gaming. Experiencing those games firsthand, as they were released, Halo 2 was in fact the installment of the series that best exemplified characteristics of the gaming “epic” as she describes. The original Halo: Combat Evolved presented gamers with a first-person shooter experience that was entirely unmatched in gameplay sophistication and technical presentation. At that time almost no game—FPS or otherwise—had reached such levels of AI complexity and visual beauty, but it wasn’t until the second game of the series did the saga reach its relative apex in terms of epicness. Online play on giant, sprawling maps with as many as sixteen—sixteen!!!—friends and foes was truly mind-blowing. Console gaming would never be the same, as the scope of what was even possible sitting at home alone with your XBOX had just been expanded exponentially. Halo 2 was almost singularly responsible for bringing popularity to online console play and experiencing the monumental 16-player free-for-alls on the Zanzibar map for the first time is a textbook example of McGonigal’s (hilariously deadpanned explanation of) “epic win.”

Epic, in both description and concept, is a vast idea and overlaps into many of the other key terms McGonigal discusses in her book. The idea of fiero is closely linked to it, as the amount of pride in an achievement is directly proportionate to the epicness of the challenge bested. She also identifies gaming as the emotional antithesis of depression—there’s undeniable excitement in grand adventure and fantastic journeys. The feeling of accomplishment, the feeling that you’re getting somewhere in a game, is among the simplest and purest and most glorious sensations of human existence. Truth.

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