If someone asked me to make a list of T2’s best and most interesting qualities, I would probably put his sense of humor at the top. He’s just naturally funny and has a sense of timing that is surprising for a nine year old. Going hand in hand with his sense of humor is the fact that he is extremely creative. His mind works in interesting and entertaining ways that make him fun to be around. Following that up would be the fact that he is surprisingly kind and compassionate for a little kid. He cares about people’s feelings.
Farther down on the list, but still there, is that he is the best damned First Person Shooter player I’ve ever seen.
For those of you who aren’t in the know, a First Person Shooter is a video game that, generally, focuses on gun combat and where the point of view is through the eyes of the protagonist. These games usually have a single player mode with a pretty weak storyline. What makes them extremely popular is the multiplayer mode, where players from all over the global can compete directly, fighting and shooting each other in virtual combat.
The most successful First Person Shooter series is the Call of Duty games. I’m actually not much of a fan. I like story and the Call of Duty games single player campaigns tend to play out like a right-wing masturbation fantasy, where the completely implausible incursions of various brown skinned people have to be beaten back by a handful of serious special operators whose entire width and breath of character is either they have a brother who is dead or a dog trained to maul people. In a recent addition of the game the United States was taken over by, essentially, by South America. I know.
Anyway, the games are amazingly successful. The one referenced above sold 19 million copies overall and shipped one billion dollars’ worth of product to retail outlets in the first 24 hours of its release. Like I said, they aren’t popular because of the single player campaigns, they are popular because of the multiplayer.
In multiplayer, every time you kill another player you get experience. More experience levels up your character. Higher level characters have access to better gear and skills. People put a lot of time into these games.
T2 is a master at them.
We have a ton of games systems in our house. T1 has a PS3 in his room. The family room has an Xbox One and a PS4, which is mostly used by me with the boys playing it occasionally. The basement has my old X-Box 360, which T2 has more or less claimed as his own.
Lately, he had been playing a ton of Call of Duty 4. This is a game that came out in 2007, which means he and the game are practically the same age. Despite this, it still has a pretty active player base. T2 had leveled up his guy a massive amount. Then he got hacked.
Through a series of events too complicated to go into here, he ended up losing all of his progress. He was super bummed.
However, he had recently brought home an excellent report card. He asked if, as a reward, I would get him a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. This still isn’t the most recent version of the game, but it is the one that most of his friends at school were playing.
I ordered a used copy off of Amazon and the countdown began.
“Why didn’t we just go to GameStop and get it?” he would ask. Every morning.
“Because a used copy there is $30 and a used copy on Amazon is $20.” I would reply.
“When will it get here?” he asked.
“Wednesday,” I would say.
“Morning or night?”
“I don’t know, assume morning.”
We had a couple days of this until, on Wednesday morning I received an email from the person selling the game on Amazon cancelling the order because someone else had bought it first. I knew T2 wasn’t going to be happy.
“Is my game here?” he asked the minute he walked through the door.
“Weeeeellllll,” I said, “about that…the seller cancelled the sale so it isn’t going to be here today.”
“WHAT?!?!” Horror. Disbelief. “I’VE WAITED SO LONG!”
“You’ve waited two days,” I said. “I reordered it directly from the Amazon used game wholeseller.”
“What does that mean?”
“It will be here Friday.”
“Why didn’t we just go to GameStop?”
“Because a used copy there is $30 and on Amazon it is $20.”
“When will it be here?”
“Morning or night?” Déjà vu.
“I don’t know assume morning.”
“Ppppaaaattrrrrriicccccckkkk,” he intoned, in his “I’m very disappointed in you” voice.
Friday came. The game arrived. He got back from school. He popped it in the X-Box. I’m sitting at my desk doing something. He is sitting behind me on the couch, facing the other direction.
“Uhhh,” he said, “Patrick?”
“I need help.”
“This isn’t working.”
It wasn’t working. We tried cleaning the disk. We tried any number of things. The game would go to the opening loading screen and just freeze. T2 sat on the couch staring blankly ahead, dejected.
“Okay,” I said. “Get your shoes on.”
“What?” he said. “Why? Actually, my shoes are already on. I didn’t take them off when I got home like I am supposed to. Because I was excited. About my broken game.”
“Get your coat on then.”
“Okay, where are we going?”
“We are going to GameStop.”
We went to GameStop. I paid the extra $10.
We got home and the game worked. He fired it up and immediately started playing multiplayer. The other people playing, and there are 15 to 20 people per match, were all level 40s and 50s. He was level one. They had all the good skills and equipment. He had whatever crappy starter weapons you get. They had hundreds of hours sunk into the game. He had about thirty seconds.
He proceeded to wreck them.
He just has amazing hand eye co-ordination and reflexes. In the game, weapons act more or less like in the real world, with the exception of how much damage they do and the result of said damage. For example, you can aim pistols quickly but it takes a lot of hits to kill someone. Shotguns are medium speed but do a lot of damage. Assault rifles will take a few hits to bring someone down but you can aim them pretty quickly. T2’s weapon of choice is the sniper rifle (or just “sniper” as he calls it).
In the game, the sniper rifles can’t be shot from the hip. Well, they can, but they are completely inaccurate that way. In order to fire the sniper rifle and hit what you are aiming for you have to bring the scope up to your face and use it to target. This takes time. Not tons of time, but the process for a normal person of bringing up the scope, re-acquiring your target and then shooting takes a second or two at least. In these games, two seconds is a lifetime. Because of this, most players using a sniper rifle do what snipers do in real life, they find someplace high and with good sight-lines, they take their time and they pick their targets off. The sniper rifle is powerful, pretty much giving you a one shot kill. The tradeoff is how long it takes to use. Theoretically.
T2 doesn’t use the sniper rifle like a sniper rifle. He runs around the map using the sniper rifle like most players use an assault rifle. Finding targets, snapping the scope up and firing so quickly that I, watching over his shoulder, never had a chance to see who he was shooting at. His avatar, running around a beautifully rendered luxury yacht, was a blur of deadly motion. It was amazing.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“It’s called quick scoping,” he said. BLAM went the digital sniper rifle and down went an enemy. “This is the most powerful gun (BLAM! Down) but most people use it so slow. (BLAM! Down) I don’t understand why.”
He finished the game in first place on the leaderboard. HE was sent to the lobby, where he and the other players wait for the next match to start.
That’s when a bunch of teenagers and grown men began wailing. We know they were teenagers and grown men and we know they were wailing because we could hear them.
Most players wear headsets with microphones. T2 does too, although he knows he isn’t to speak to anyone who he doesn’t know in real life. He’s actually funny because he dislikes cussing and, well, there tends to be a lot of cussing. As soon as someone says a swear word he will shake his head and hit the sequence of buttons that mutes the potty mouthed offender.
Sitting in the virtual lobby waiting, there was a fair amount of cussing.
T2, his own microphone turned off, began muting the people using bad language and laughing uproariously.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “What’s their problem?”
“They’re mad,” he said, laughing. “The guys who were on the other team. They’re mad because I’m level one and beat the crap out of them.”
The next game started up and, once again, T2 began cutting a path of destruction, this time through a suburban neighborhood. Twice I noticed that he would shoot someone and a message would pop up saying they had left the game. Each time it happened T2 laughed so hard that he shook.
“They are rage quitting,” he chortled. “I’m just playing the game but they are getting so angry they are dropping out so they don’t have to face me. Oh….oh…man….”
After the second game, back in the lobby, an opposing player’s voice crackled out of the speakers.
“How was he in first place again?” the person, sounding like a twenty-something year old, said. “He’s level two for Christsakes. God damnit!”
There was a crunching sound and T2 began laughing so hard tears rolled down his face.
“What was that noise?” I asked.
“That was his headset,” T said. “He just threw his headset across the room.”
“You don’t act like this, do you?” I asked.
“Patrick,” he cocked an eyebrow. “No. These guys are crazy. It’s just a game.”
“Okay,” I said, turning to go upstairs. “Don’t talk to anybody. Mute then if they use bad words.”
“I won’t talk to anybody and I will mute them,” he said. “Patrick?”
I turned. The little digital death dealer, the scourge of middle aged video gamers worldwide, the Baby Rambo, leapt off the couch, ran the five or six steps to me, jumped up and wrapped his legs and arms around me and hugged hard.
“Thanks for the game.”