A couple days ago, my friend Beez and I were catching up while we played some of the Heroic Siva Strikes in Destiny. For those of you that don’t know, Bungie recently updated several of the strikes with new, more challenging mechanics. Bad guys, aka “adds" spawn in different ways, the Nexus Mind strike now has a relic à la the Vault of Glass, Omnigul gets ogres, and more.
Plus there is now “Strike Scoring”, which rewards you for different sorts of kills - like a “heavy rampage” medal if you get nine rapid kills with a heavy weapon. It’s pretty dang fun. My only critique would be that the points are accumulated by fireteam, so there are no public bragging rights for who did the most at the end of the strike.
A few of the members of Rogue Squadron
The new strikes are legitimately challenging and since there was just the two of us, we wiped a few times on each. Eventually we were on The Will of Crota aka Omnigul strike and were having some trouble beating the witch. As you work her health down, new waves of adds spawn in. Each time we’d get a little bit further before being overrun, but it was tough!
But then, a familiar voice joined our party, it was our clanmate, Bobby. “How y’all doing?” he said in his sweet southern drawl. He wondered if he could join us, and we were more than happy to have a third guardian. Now with a full fireteam, we quickly defeated the witch. Like literally, we did it the next run. We played a few more strikes then called it a night.
It had been a few months since I’d played with Bobby. He had just started a new business venture out in Arkansas and that had been occupying most of his time. It was great to get to run some strikes with him and more importantly, hear about how he’d been doing. I was reminded about one of my favorite parts of Destiny — the friendship and camaraderie that started with the game.
Having “video game” friends might seem odd to someone who doesn’t play video games, but really it’s not that strange. It’s no different than having friends from book club, or from watching sports, or any other hobby. We have a shared interest in an activity that’s pretty simple to get in to, and relatively easy to afford. For example, most games cost around $60 and provide tens if not hundreds of hours of entertainment.
Compare that to my other main hobby, snowboarding, where a lift ticket costs at least $60 and that gives you only one day of riding. Apples and oranges perhaps, but the point is, you can get a lot of fun out of your video game purchases. You don’t risk breaking bones, it’s not weather dependent, and you don’t have to drive anywhere to do it. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t enjoy the great outdoors (you should!), just that games can be a great way to socialize.
Through video games I’ve made a lot of friends. In fact, some of the people I talk to most are friends I game with. And the more I talk to other gamers the more I’m reminded that I’m not the only one like this. The people I play with aren’t just "nerds on the internet”, they are as real as any friends I’ve made IRL. That’s one of the great things about games like Destiny that encourage and often require teamwork to succeed in. As you play with people you get to know them, and through that you begin to learn about their life outside of the game. As we are raiding or playing Iron Banner or just running around looking for ghosts, we talk about school, work, family, kids and we share our successes and our heartbreaks.
The author (left) getting BBQ in Nashville with Moon Dawg.
Many of these friendships have gone beyond online and into “real” life. I’ve had the pleasure to meet up with a bunch of my clanmates from all around the country. I met a friend from San Francisco at the San Diego Comic-Con. In Nashville, my buddy MoonDawg picked me up at the airport and we went for BBQ. I’ve had drinks in Seattle with Beez and Loki. In Los Angeles I’ve gone bowling with clanmates visiting from Arizona and Chicago. I’ve seen Captain Dope do an improv show.
A couple weeks ago Sinful Enigma’s band “Three Fold Fate” played a gig in Los Angeles and a bunch of us came out and saw him perform. Several times we’ve gotten together for BBQs and LAN parties. I’ve even had friends invite me to their workplaces and gotten to tour a couple of game studios. All this started by playing video games and if you ask me, that’s pretty darn cool.
I’ve played with people from all over the US and beyond, places like Texas, Rhode Island, England, Denmark, Australia, even Canada (I’m looking at you Tad!). Load up an LFG site and you might make friends with someone half a world away. The community is large and varied and at any given time, there is probably someone out there looking to play the same thing you are. Just the other day, I read a post on Reddit about another group that had met playing the game and now were friends IRL. How cool is that?
As we go into year three of Destiny, it’s fun to think back on all the good times I’ve had with my friends. We ran around the Cosmodrome looking for spinmetal, we did nightfalls in the morning before work, we struggled over and over to get the Black Spindle, we used all our heavy synths before finally defeating Crota, we had epic come back wins in Crucible, and the list goes on and on. These are the sorts of memories that keep me coming back for more.
I’m thankful for my friends in Rogue Squadron, as well as the players I’ve met online, and I’m excited for what lies ahead!