Halo and the terrorist mind-set


Clive “The Garanimal” Thompson doesn’t have a lot of time to play Halo 3 and, as a result, gets killed a lot in Live play. However, instead of giving up and going to play Parcheesi, he’s decided to fight back by becoming a suicide bomber.

The typical Halo player’s goal is to stay alive. Clive knows he can’t stay alive very long, so he wants to take down as many people as he can before he goes. He does this by running straight at his opponents and dropping a sticky grenade on them as he passes into the netherworld, secure in the knowledge that he took someone down with him. He writes:

I, however, have a completely different psychology. I know I’m the underdog; I know I’m probably going to get killed anyway. I am never going to advance up the Halo 3 rankings, because in the political economy of Halo, I’m poor.

Specifically, I’m poor in time. The best players have dozens of free hours a week to hone their talents, and I don’t have that luxury. This changes the relative meaning of death for the two of us. For me, dying will not penalize me in the way it penalizes them, because I have almost no chance of improving my state. I might as well take people down with me.

Or to put it another way: The structure of Xbox Live creates a world composed of two classes — haves and have-nots. And, just as in the real world, some of the disgruntled have-nots are all too willing to toss their lives away — just for the satisfaction of momentarily halting the progress of the haves. Since the game instantly resurrects me, I have no real dread of death in Halo 3.

In doing this, he basically encapsulates the psychology of the suicide bomber — my enemies have better weapons, intelligence, and abilities and I have nothing to lose, ostensibly, so it makes perfect sense to waste my life to do as much damage as possible.

Also, I think religion takes care of Clive’s last point (“Since the game instantly resurrects me, I have no real dread of death in Halo 3.”) Fascinating real life conundrums, wrought in miniature.

Suicide Bombing Makes Sick Sense in Halo 3 [Wired]