The much anticipated Halo 4 video game was released on Monday, causing gamers around the world to completely lose their shit. Rather than just distributing the games to shops and getting on with their lives, developer 343 made a big song and dance about it, turning the whole thing into an event of multiple thumb-splintering proportions. In London, this consisted of a stunt involving a giant, luminous Halo “Glyph” logo flying through the air near Tower Bridge and, somewhat less spectacularly, loads of free giveaways at the Stratford Westfield.
Unfortunately the festive mood may have been spoiled for some gamers if and when they noticed the above on the Halo website. Someone involved with making the game appears to have made the mistake of leaving some placeholder text embedded in a promotional image on the site, reading: “Some epic/exciting/multiplayer bullshit to make them feel better about not having sex”.
Of course, there's always the chance that this was either an in-joke, some wanky marketing ploy, or both, but this still touched a raw nerve in me. It quickly made me realise that the amount of time I spend gaming is often inversely proportionate to the amount of sex I’m having at any given time. With that in mind, I headed down to Stratford to ask about the sex lives of the gamers who had nothing better to do of an evening than queue up to buy something that's supposed to keep you occupied when you have nothing better to do.
Dan, 24, designer and Rob, age withheld, unemployed.
VICE: Hi guys. What brought you down to get the new Halo at ridiculous-to-be-in-a-shopping-centre-o’clock?
Dan: Oh, I just heard about it and thought it would be a laugh.
Have you seen this screen-grab?
Haha, that’s brilliant!
Do you guys have girlfriends or boyfriends at the moment?
Dan: Kind of.
Which is better, Halo or sex?
Dan: Sex! Rob: [very long pause]
Dan: Seriously, Rob! Seriously! Rob: Depends what underwear she’s wearing.
A man of nuance – I like that.
Dane, 22, Reese, 20 and Connor, 17, all students.
What do you guys think about this screen-grab?
Dane: It's a bit insulting.
Reese: We’re used to that kind of shit, though.
Dane: I have a girlfriend, so it doesn't really apply to me.
Reese: So do I. We don’t all hide in our parents' basements in dim lighting. No gamer is actually like that, except maybe inheritors.
What’s an inheritor?
It was the highest rank in Halo Reach. Anyone who’s an inheritor has no life. Although, I say that and I was like three levels away from being one!
Doesn’t it annoy you that someone in the gaming industry has such a dim view of the fans?
We don’t give a shit about what other people think. You can call us whatever you like; at the end of the day, we’ll beat you at pretty much anything.
Connor: Except sports.
Jim, 22, graphic designer and James, 18, student.
What possessed you to queue for the new Halo at midnight?
James: We want to get it before the Americans so we can dick on them.
Fair enough. If someone behind the game accused you of being sexless geeks, would it taint the game for you at all?
James: To be fair, it’s painfully true. I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment, but my ex was pretty good at Halo. There are a lot more girls here than I expected, though. I thought it would be entirely guys. Gamers are never the most suave people. They’re nice, but not suave.
Jim: I think it’s kind of a 90s stereotype.
Is Halo your replacement girlfriend?
James: It helps.
Have you ever tried to chat someone up on the multiplayer chat function?
Possibly. It’s kind of difficult because you can’t see what they look like.
Hired Mountain Dew promotion girl #1, hired Mountain Dew promotion girl #2, hired Mountain Dew promotion girl #3, hired Mountain Dew promotion girl #4, Simon, 23, works in the travel industry, hired Mountain Dew promotion girl #5,
hired Mountain Dew promotion girl #6.
What do you make of this screen-grab?
Simon: No offence, but I’d exploit the shit out of these gamers. None of them have kissed a girl before. Look at that fucking guy over there! [points at nerd] He’s never seen a pair of tits in his life!
Do you have a girlfriend?
No. I’ve never kissed a girl, myself. I just stay in playing Halo Reach. Random bystander: Have you played Halo Reacharound? Simon: Wahaaaaay!
Which is better: Halo or sex?
Sex, man. Don’t be stupid. Actually, I was with this one girl who used to just lay there like a board. Frankly, I’d rather play a fire fight or something. Nine times out of ten, the answer is sex.
Alex, 19, profession withheld, Vincent, 20, student and Craig, 19, student.
Do you think the stereotype that gamers are geeky virgins is a fair one?
Alex: Halo fans are like a rainbow: you get a whole variety.
Nice. Are you guys in relationships at the moment?
Vincent: No, I’m not.
Alex: I just came out of a relationship. But I had a lot of casual sex that ended up in a photo-shoot.
In a what? A photo-shoot? Like porn?
Well, I had a camera on while this girl was sucking my dick.
Yeah, she really liked me, so she was like, “Yeah, you can do that”.
Vincent: What’s the URL?
Alex: Haha, no, it’s not on the internet.
What do you make of this screen-grab?
Rosie Gates, 21, art student: I think it’s quite funny. Maybe the stereotype is true for some people, but I play Halo and I have sex. Sorry to be so graphic.
That was very graphic. I’m going to have to go and have a sit down.
Andrew, 24, student, Ali, 27, fetish model, Becky, 20, student and Andy, 23, engineer.
Andrew: We’ve been queuing for about seven and a half hours. We're really looking forward to playing the game.
What makes Halo worth a seven and a half hour queue?
Becky: Oh my god, the story line! And the Chief, but it’s mainly about the story line.
Andrew: There are a load of cool weapons, too.
Would your enthusiasm be dampened at all if you I showed you this screen-grab that suggests someone who made the game thinks you’re all sexless losers?
Andrew: It’s probably some sort of joke.
Like an in-joke?
What about you guys – are you getting any?
Andrew: Becky and I are going out and Andy’s got a girlfriend who also plays video games.
Do you think the character “the Chief” is a sex symbol?
Girls: Yeah! Andrew: No. They would show his face if he was.
Becky: That’s just your opinion, Andrew. He’s a big strong male who's there to save the day.
Gary “Surreal” Lawrence, freerunner, doing his “two in the goo, one in the poo” hand shape (his words, not mine).
Do you think the “geeky virgin” gamer stereotype is a fair one?
Gary: Yeah, pretty much. I know so many people who fit the stereotype of a nerd. Pretty much every girlfriend I’ve had, I’ve tried to get them to play Halo and they haven’t wanted to. My girlfriends are as likely to play Halo with me as I am to watch Emmerdale with them. When I do play it with them, I put it on “legendary” mode and see how long it takes for them to get pissed off with dying all the time.
Lucky girls. So are mad Halo skills not a turn on?
I know girls who are better than me and that puts me off.
I’m an average player. I play for the fun of it. I don’t play to win, I play to play.
Wait, are we talking about Halo or playing the field?
Just in general. That’s what my life is about.
So there you have it. I guess that's pretty conclusive.
Follow Simon on Twitter: @simonchilds13