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3. Destroy the Stroggifier

“Okay, Mike and Trevor are on my team. It’s us against Jude, Douglas, and the new guy.”

“I’m not ready to play,” the new guy insists.

“What are you talking about? You were just playing.” Besides, I need him to balance out Mike, who sucks at all games.

“I’m not ready to play an actual game. Against people. Besides, I’d rather play Halo.”

“Okay, Peter, you’re filling in for the new guy.”

“I get motion sickness. I have to stop every five minutes.”

“We should trade him for Mike,” Trevor suggests.

“Nope. No trading. You, me, and Mike against Jude, Douglas, and Peter. Okay, let’s do it.” I clap my hands, like I’ve just dismissed us from the briefing and now we’re going on the mission.

Each team has three bots, which should even things out. Without bots, we’d be screwed. In 3v3, having Mike on your team makes it 2v3. “Just gather lots of resources and give them to us,” we tell Mike during an RTS. Mike means you get extra villagers and that’s about it. You almost always lose when Mike is on your team. But the thing about Mike is that he doesn’t care that he sucks at all games. He likes all games, and he doesn’t care if he wins. Beat him ten times in a row at a game and he’s ready for an eleventh game. Who ever heard of such a thing?

“Hey, what if I don’t have any health. How do I heal?” Mike asks once the match has started.

“Call for a medic,” I tell him, trying to hack the shield controls while Trevor covers me. Jude shoots Trevor, I shoot Jude, and then Peter shoots me. I cuss.

“Hey, how do you call for a medic?” Mike asks a few minutes later, after having stood in the corner and pressed various keys. I’m trying to hack the shield controls again.

“V7.” This time Peter shoots Trevor, I shoot Peter, and then Jude shoots me. Douglas is flying around in a Tormentor.

“It’s not working,” Mike says.

“V7.”

“I’m pressing V7 and it’s not doing anything.”

“Are you in chat mode?”

“VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV,” appears on screen.

“Ah, that’s it.”

A few minutes later, he suggests it’s still not working. “Maybe it’s a bug?”

I demonstrate that it’s working by calling for a medic. Then I shoot Jude, Peter, and a bot. Then Trevor comes driving to the rescue in an Armadillo. He runs over me. He hits V6 to say ‘sorry’, even though he’s sitting right next to me and could have said it out loud. I hit V5 to say ‘thanks’.

“No, I think it’s a bug,” Mike says after a moment. “It doesn’t work.”

I get up and go over to Mike’s computer. He’s probably got cap locks on or something. Nope, that’s not it. He’s trying to press both V and 7 at the same time, as if it were a control or shift command.

“No, no, press V and then 7. Not both at once. It’s not like F1 or F10.”

“Oh! I see.”

“Wait, what class are you?”

“I’m not sure. How do I find out?”

“Dude, you’re a medic. Just drop health packs and then pick them up.”

“That makes sense.”

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I sit back at my computer and find I’ve been killed. I’m not sure who shot me this time.

A few moments later Mike asks how to drop health packs.

But the game is still close since I can hear a civil war brewing in the other room. Jude is in an Icarus and Douglas is in the Tormentor, and Peter yells for them to come down and help.

“I am helping,” Jude says. The Icarus is a jetpack with an unlimited supply of Stroybombs. It’s like bunny hopping combined with grenade spamming, both turned up to eleven.

“Ha ha, I’m kicking your ass with Storybombs,” Jude cackles from the other room.

“They’re not Storybombs.”

“What’s a Storybomb?” Mike asks.

“It’s an anecdote that doesn’t go over well,” Trevor says. “Hey, tell him your Garrison Keiller story.”

I’m not about to tell anyone my Garrison Keillor story. I’m not about to relate how last summer Trevor and I were in line for Bourne Supremacy. We started talking to these two girls in line behind us. I was worried Trevor was going to start telling them about the corporation he just joined in Eve Online, so when one of them said she was from Wisconsin, I piped up with my story about how I met Garrison Keillor once. He was a total jerk and he kept hitting on this intern from the paper I was working for. The story ends with him asking me for a pen to write down his room number for the intern and I pretend I don’t have a pen, even though I’m standing there holding a pad.

“That’s terrible,” the girl from Wisconsin said.

“Yeah, I know,” I agreed.

“I don’t know why you’d tell a story like that,” she said. “Especially when he’s not here to defend his honor.”

Defend his honor? Were we in the antebellum South? She made it sound like gloves should be thrown onto the ground.

“My grandmother loved that show he did,” she continued.

“Prairie Home Companion,” I offered helpfully.

“She listened to it every week until the day she died.”

Great. Horndog Garrison Keillor was hitting on a girl young enough to be his daughter and I was the jerk. Storybomb.

“They’re not Storybombs, they’re Stroybombs,” I point out. “Can you retards not read?”

“I’m kicking your asses with Storybombs,” Jude says, kicking our ass with them. It’s pretty impossible to hit him. “Someone get the APC back at the base. It’s got an anti-air gun.”

“I’ll do it,” Mike says, disappearing for pretty much the rest of the match to wander the map looking for the base. We win, mainly because Peter has to sit out the last ten minutes, Douglas keeps flying around in the Tormentor, and Jude is hopping around in his Icarus even after the objective has moved indoors.

After winning the campaign, I figure it’s time to play Quake Wars for real. We’re going online.

“And we’re bringing Mike,” I add.

To be continued…

***

Tom Chick has been writing about videogames for fifteen years. His work appears in Games for Windows Magazine, Yahoo, Gamespy, Sci-Fi, and Variety. He lives in Los Angeles. Shoot Club appears in this space every Thursday.

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