A Gamer’s Memoir: The Initiation – How my Squad Came to be
I want you to vividly imagine this in your mind: It is three-thirty in the morning and your heart is racing like Usain Bolt because you are totally hyped on your specific choice of caffeinated liquid. Your entire squad is online as you are currently in a ranked match that is more heated than the sun’s core against another squad that has been trash talking all night. Anything else you have ever played in your entire gaming career has never come close to this match. Your hands are perspiring because the score is so close that the game could go either way. It is in the last fifteen seconds of the match that your squad pulls through by acquiring the needed points that brought home the W. The experience after winning is well worth the sleep deprivation and addiction to caffeine. It is at this point when you realize that your squad is irreplaceable.
Can you recall when you first met the members of your squad? Throughout my caffeine induced gaming sessions, I can recall multiple important meetings. I dedicated over a decade of my life to Call of Duty before falling in love with Gears of War. When I first began online gaming, I mostly played with my older brother. Several years later, during the Modern Warfare 3 era, I reached out to the online gaming community via social media. On Facebook, I discovered this event dubbed “Battle of the Sexes” where men would face off women in private matches. If I remember correctly, the men had a winning streak in their back pockets, but that day the ladies served them the ultimate L. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the Battle of the Sexes and I would like to imagine that the weekly event still exists to this day. Thanks to BOTS, I made a friend that lives across the country. Today he is one of my best friends and continues to play an important role in my life.
Although I enjoyed the hell out of BOTS and made new gaming buddies, I did not like every squad member upon first meeting them. We all know at least one person we ABSOLUTELY LOATHED that somehow (probably black magic) won our hearts over. (Yeah, it was totally black magic.) During the Black Ops 2 era, I met this kid that was a total squeaker and he followed me EVERYWHERE, but I didn’t have the heart to remove him from my friend’s list. I introduced him to the rest of my CoD squad and NO ONE liked him at first, either. (I don’t blame them, the kid lost us plenty of matches.) They would give me endless crap about inviting him to our parties and I can hear them in my head as I type this: “DAMN IT SARAH, YOU STILL HAVENT BLOCKED THAT KID? HE PICKS THE WORST PERKS AND FOLLOWS US! EVERYONE CAN HEAR HIS FOOTSTEPS!” Years passed by, the kid hit puberty, and eventually everyone got used to him being around. The kid is still hella annoying, but he earned his permanent spot in my squad after enduring what we call the “The Initiation.”
I am more than sure that every squad puts potential members through a test to see if they have what it takes to run with the other prideful narcissists in the group. Yeah, I am calling all of you out, especially the ones reading this. “The Initiation” consisted of each of us taking turns talking crap to the newbie until A) They deleted us from their friends list B) Took it too seriously and became an online gangster and threatened to kill our pets or C) Came up with comebacks just as good as ours and damn it, we molded the kid into one of us. There were numerous gamers that we tortured with the initiation. Only a handful made the cut, but one thing is certain, if I ever need a group of people that are blessed with magical amounts of maniacal sarcasm and insults, I know JUST who to go to.
Every squad also has “battle stories.” You can’t just go up to your “normal friends” (non-gaming individuals that probably play golf as a hobby) at your day job (assuming you are not the statistic of a jobless gamer) and casually say, “Hey, Frank! I had so much fun slaughtering those kids last night!” Some “up-tight Tracy” at the office might just have it out for you after that and steal your paperclips as some passive aggressive stunt of “thinking of the children.” We have all had a moment of remembering an awesome play that only your squad members can relate to because you all experienced it together. There is no emotion that feels as good as reminiscing old battle stories except creating new ones.
I have met numerous people that became life-long friends. Some of these people I have never even seen in person, but in special circumstances (after we verify that our gaming buddy is not some psychotic murderer attempting to lure in gamers for whatever reason) we may even have the opportunity to physically meet some of these amazing people. Every gamer is familiar with both negative and positive experiences (more negative than positive for me because I talk a lot of crap) with other gamers online, but in special moments (getting in my feelings here) we stumble upon other gamers that we are instantaneously compatible with. In those moments we exchange friend requests and we befriend these strangers. We engage interaction with these people on a daily basis. We uncover their stories as we slay villains, complete missions, win and lose matches together. These people that were once strangers then become a part of our lives. Though we may have never been in their physical presence, these people become our second family.
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