Out of seemingly nowhere I began to think about the memories I had playing games on the Xbox 360, which was probably triggered by the arrival of next-gen consoles, along with their push for more social connectivity. The Xbox 360, more so Xbox Live, has become a standard in my day-to-day, but not too long ago it wasn’t. Not too long ago, I was running down the hall in my house yelling, “I HAVE XBOX LIVE IN MY ROOM,” after my lovely girlfriend – now wife – bought me a wireless adapter on a whim. Not too long ago, Xbox Live was the best way for my geographically challenged BFF and I to communicate. Albeit, I must admit that I, and the gaming community at large, take Xbox Live, PSN, and whatever Nintendo calls their network for granted.
2006 is a blur, a year marked by uncertainty, a graduation, a prom, and the vast majority of my very close friends departing for college — while I stayed home weighing the options of trade schools and a life as a vagrant. Okay…wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. 2006 was important, but I wouldn’t look on it as nostalgically if it weren’t for the events of 2005. In twenty-0-five I found the ying to my yang – quite literally with me being black and him white. My heterosexual life-mate so to speak; a friend that shared my irrational obsessions with The Diplomats, sneakers and most of all video games, Bradley Russell Roeder.
2005 also marks the year Microsoft released their second console, the XBox 360. Neither Bradley or I got a Xbox 360 in 2005, probably due to our obsession with overpriced footwear, and The Diplomats. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have access to one. Thanks to my spoiled little brother, Mario, Bradley and I bogarted his Xbox for our own use — we let him play, don’t go feeling sorry for him. This is where Bradley and I became inseparable: Games, The Diplomats, shoes, games, shoes, games — wash, rinse, repeat.
But like a good book, movie or game, everything comes to an end. I can’t speak for Bradley, but I was able to largely ignore the inevitable beckoning of adulthood. I had a sweet gig, why would I want to go to college? Unfortunately, Northern Arizona University was calling Bradley — this is were I must admit that your best friend moving hundreds of miles away really sucks; who was I going to play games with? Luckily, both of us had Xbox 360s come into our possession after graduation. We had Xbox Live, everything would be okay.
We played a lot of Gears of War while he was at NAU, and whatever else came out, and like predicted Xbox Live became a place for us to congregate at night to talk, to interact; everything was okay. But specifically, I have this memory of us playing Crackdown. Both of us skeptically purchased it in order to get the voucher for the Halo 3 beta — a brilliant marketing scheme by Microsoft. Turns out Crackdown was a pretty good game, in fact, one of my favorites.
I can’t remember why, or how, climbing the Agency Tower -the tallest building in the game- came about, but I can only assume it went something like this, “bruh, there’s a cheevo for climbing that one tower. We should do that.” Of course, Bradley obliged and we set off on our journey. There’s no platforms for you to climb the Agency Tower, we essentially had to work our way up by finding pieces of the building’s geometry that could be stood on. After what seemed like an entire night we reached the top, the achievement popped, we reveled in our success for a while then jumped
I shot Bradley a text while writing this to see if he remembered climbing the tower and he responded with, “I’ll never forget it.”
Climbing that tower turned out to be one of the single most difficult things I’ve ever done in gaming, and thanks to XBox Live I shared that moment with someone else. Additionally, when I think about it, would this moment have the same gravitas if I did it alone? Probably not, it was playing with Bradley that cemented it in my memory, and I want more of these experiences — I’m looking at you Destiny, The Division and Watchdogs. I want more ways to have these experiences, be it Twitch, be it the MiiVerse, be it sharing video clips on Xbox One. I know its a cliche, but humans by their very nature are social creatures, and I welcome Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft pushing more social interactivity into their consoles.
The Diplomats have disbanded after a string of terrible albums, and bills eat up any money I would allocate to buying shoes. Yet, playing games with Bradley is still a staple in my life, and I owe that largely to us chasing that high of climbing the Agency Tower together.