Halo 2 came out just after I turned 20, and I bought an Xbox to play it. This was a big deal. I’d always been really careful with money, but I’d been living away from home for two years by then, and my discipline was starting to slip. Until that point, buying anything that cost more than £99 had been an agonising, days-long process of weighing up pros and cons.
But on that day, walking past a branch of GAME, I was struck by a sudden, vertigo-inducing notion: that I could buy something with a three figure price tag, just because I wanted to, and nobody could stop me. I didn’t just buy any old Xbox, either – I bought the fancy-dan crystal-looking one, and I bought it with the casual ease with which one might buy a bag of crisps.
Of course, this kicked off a period of appalling financial hygiene which I still regret, and which really only came to an end when I finally started to get my shit together at the start of my thirties. In fact, now I think about it, the whole of my 20s was characterised by a reckless enthusiasm to try everything involved in being an adult, without accepting any of the responsibilities or consequences.
I was going to make this HYP a silly one, about how cool the Arbiter was (Arbs was Halo 2’s secondary character, and was a sort of melancholy armoured dogman voiced by Keith David). But I guess this is a reflective HYP instead. I was pretty much a selfish mess for a decade, because I had no idea what maturity actually was, and it seems appropriate now that it was all ushered in by a big tough man in green armour, who gave off the impression of being unfathomably capable and cool, without ever having done anything to earn his power, or really having much of a personality.
I suppose, in that context, the Arbiter really is pretty cool. He’s been given wicked alien armour and a sick plasma sword, sure, but it’s all part of a religious practice, where a disgraced commander is given a decent set of kit and booted out of polite society to redeem himself. He couldn’t have been more of a contrast, in fact, to the walking embodiment of unthinking male entitlement that was the Chief. I’m pretty sure Arbs would have told me not to buy the damned Xbox.