Background: Rainbow Six is an XBox game with online capability. Equipped with special headsets, multiple players can interact and communicate with each other in real time through a high-speed Internet connection. The mission is simple: My buddies and I comprise an elite squad of anti-terrorist commandos that will rescue any hostages, defuse any bombs and neutralize all Tangos to secure the peace and restore law and order…
As we get older and move to the far corners of the world, it gets harder and harder to get together with my buds to enjoy the juvenile pursuits that are the foundation of every male friendship. Since Al Gore hasn’t invented a way to have rubber band fights over the Internet, I’ve come to depend on XBox Live as a means to maintaining these important bonds in male relationships. Thankfully, The Chizzler (DA) and Jon_Solo are always up for neutralizing Tangos at a moment’s notice…
The fact that Solo lives on the East coast actually helps our cause. You see, Solo is on a different biometric plane than the rest of us. He works irregular hours, sleeps during the day, and is most active at night. His mother refers to this lifestyle as a mild form of vampirism. Anyway, the three-hour time difference conversion somehow puts us on about the same space-time continuum. Honestly, if Solo lived in the same time zone as me, I’d probably never talk to him.
Once we all get online, we take a moment to select our weapons, exchange a few pleasantries and mentally prepare ourselves for battle. The mission starts out with a chopper dropping our team at the insertion point. Wasting no time, we set out immediately to neutralize all Tangos and complete our mission objectives…
McSex: “Behind us… Building on the left… Top window… I’ve got a dude showing up on thermal. Take him out.”
~A hail of gunfire ensues~
Solo: “Got him.”
Chizzler: “No, I got him.”
Solo: “Whatever… I nailed his ass.”
Now for the record, Solo always assumes he is behind every kill our team earns. Even if he walked up and riddled an enemy corpse with bullets, he’ll still turn to us and claim it was his kill. While some bickering may ensue about who actually registered the kill, it is usually short-lived since the game lacks forensic examiners to determine the actual cause of death during game play. We simply move on and wait for the kill totals to be revealed at the end of the game.
While successfully completing the mission is our paramount objective, it is also equally important to register a nice total of kills individually. Registering single-digit kills for an entire mission will cause other players to call you a pacifist or question if maybe you’d be better suited joining a troop of girl scouts. If you happen to register zero kills, your fellow players will ask if you fled to Canada at some point in the mission. And getting a negative score (the result of killing more teammates than terrorists) will result in an impromptu military tribunal for aiding and abetting the enemy in a time of war.
While we try to function as a team, our best efforts to operate as a cohesive unit can be compromised by interruptions and distractions outside of the game. For The Chizzler, there’s no better time to multitask than when he’s supposed to be providing cover fire or guarding our flank. It never fails. To the annoyance of his teammates, The Chizzler takes an endless amount of pauses to take phone calls, make a snack, answer the door, play on the Internet, clean his apartment or read a magazine while the rest of our squad engages the enemy.
Now, the occasional interruption is tolerable. We all have to go to the bathroom or listen to our wives/girlfriends tell us about their day. It happens. However, with the sheer volume of phone calls and visits The Chizzler receives on a typical night, one could easily justify hiring a receptionist to handle the demands on his time.
Solo: “Where’s Dave?”
McSex: “I think he got a phone call.”
McSex: “I know. He’s jeopardizing the mission. He always does this.”
Solo: “Who could he even be talking to? We’re his only friends.”
McSex: “Exactly… You know, I hate answering the phone. You have to get up, stop what you’re doing, run over to the phone…”
Solo: “It’s like, ‘Who wants to get a phone call, ever?'”
McSex: “Not me. But Dave does apparently. He’s all over it every-”
Solo: “Watch out, McSex… There’s a dude on the rooftops up here with a rocket launcher.”
McSex: “I see him. Got him. Anyway, have you noticed that Dave gets a lot of visits, too?”
Solo: “Yeah, what is with that?”
McSex: “Nobody ever knocks on my door.”
Solo: “Try living in Brooklyn. People are pretty chill here, but you don’t visit people. That never happens… Must be Bellingham.”
Individually, Solo and The Chizzler are efficient killing machines. However, when put together, they somehow manage to regress to a bunch of giggling schoolgirls on the battlefield. It’s uncanny. One night, Solo and I breezed through three straight missions flawlessly. As soon as The Chizzler joined us, our squad was reduced to a friendly-firing slapstick suicide-mission. Frankly, Larry, Moe and Curly could have put together a more professional and organized effort than we did.
Allow me to elaborate on some of the breakdowns that befall our team whenever Jon_Solo and The Chizzler work side by side:
1. Lack of Awareness: The word “itchy” trigger finger doesn’t do it justice. Picture a trigger finger enflamed with psoriasis and poison oak. This affliction affects Solo primarily. Essentially, movement of any kind within his field of vision will be met with several rounds of gunfire, followed by vigorous reloading, and then several more rounds for good measure.
The funny thing is, Solo never feels responsible for comrades that he decimates with friendly fire. At the end of the game, Solo always places the blame squarely on the foolish teammate that happened to venture near him as he was indiscriminately firing his weapon.
2. Disorientation: It’s not uncommon for me to advance deep into enemy territory, look over my shoulder and find that the rest of my squad is nowhere to be found. Ducking intense enemy fire, I’ll bring up the map screen, only to find that Chizz and Solo are inexplicably heading back to the insertion point or maybe a frozen yogurt stand somewhere else on the map.
Now, I can forgive getting turned around and mistakenly heading in the wrong direction. It happens under the stress of battle. However, sometimes I’ll check the map and they won’t be moving at all. What are they doing? Digging foxholes? Making snow angels? For all I know, they are playing hackey sack while I’m trying to single-handedly wipe out an army of terrorists. Unfailingly, by the time I can give the order for them to regroup, my life is wasted along with any hope of successfully completing the mission.
3. Poor Execution: This occurs when we have a solid plan in place, and for some inexplicable reason fail to adhere to it. These are catastrophic mental errors like shooting a hostage after we’ve rescued her. Throwing grenades at a bomb we’re supposed to defuse. I’ve actually had The Chizzler drop a live grenade in my lap instead of throwing it at the enemy. Stuff like that.
Here’s a textbook example:
The missions usually end with a climactic standoff with terrorists while a hostage’s life hangs in the balance. Naturally, these daring rescues require precise planning and execution. The element of surprise is critical. As we approach a room where a hostage is being held, I’ll take a moment to try and get our team organized… (Admittedly, depending on your point of view, this strategic planning session borders on sucking the fun out of playing a video game online altogether)…
McSex: “Alright. They’ve got a hostage in the next room. There are at least three Tangos in there as well. I’ll use a breaching charge and enter through the back door. Solo and Chizz, you two enter through the front door on the count of three. Remember to check your fire, and don’t shoot the hostage. Lock and load. On three…”
Of course, Dave pays no attention to any of this. Here’s what typically happens: Midway through my strategy briefing, Dave will casually open the front door, alerting the terrorists to our presence. In a matter of seconds, we hear some rapid gunfire and witness the hostage being executed and our team slaughtered. The words: “Mission Failed” flash prominently across our screen.
Solo and I are dumbfounded. Utterly speechless… (Well, momentarily, anyway.)
Solo: “Oh my god! What was that?”
Chizzler: “I don’t know… I thought we were supposed to go in there?”
McSex and Solo (in unison): “On three!! We were going in on three!”
McSex: “Wow. That was horrible execution. You might be facing a court martial for that one…”
Solo: “Look right there! I got 19 kills. I told you guys I was on point!”
McSex: “Sweet. 31 kills. That’ll help my average.”
Chizzler: “What? Only 8 kills? I should have had way more than that!”
Solo: “If you’d get off the phone for one second…”
McSex: “Ok, fire it up again. But this time-”
Chizzler (sarcastically): “I know, I know. I’ll get my act together. No hackey sack or having fun. All business!”