Halo 2 tournament
Like gladiators of old propelled into the future, four warriors were intensely engaged in battle in an arena where green-glowing portals teleported you to different locations and launching pads threw you hundreds of feet into the air.
In mere seconds only one warrior remained running. He was wounded and his plasma-rifle smoked, but he survived with the two most valuable prizes - his life and a kill to his name.
In Halo 2, a game on the X-box console, persons battle in a variety of futuristic settings, with an arsenal of different weapons and the winner is decided by those racking up the highest "frag" (kill) counts.
The sequel to Halo, which was also available on PC and was the best selling X-box game ever, Halo 2 involves characters taking up arms in order to fight back the insidious Covenant - an invading alien race - in an adventure that would excite even the most ardent science-fiction fan.
Besides a well written plot, Halo 2 boasts significantly improved graphics over its predecessor, as well as online multiplayer ability through the X-box live feature that allow larger scale battles.
And at Santa Monica College, battle they did during the first Halo 2 College Challenge organized by Nehemiah Slaughter, the Associated Students director of financial support.
"We want to do an event where the students will participate as a form of entertainment. Especially since finals are coming up so that we can provide an outlet," said Slaughter, who is also ICC representative for the Black Collegians.
This was an appealing enterprise, evident in the high participation and also the support provided by the SMC board of directors.
"There weren't any major obstacles in setting up the event," said Slaughter. "The board of directors were in favor because this isn't done very often."
Prizes were sponsored by the video game retail chain EB Games and included several X-box game titles, as well as X-box consoles.
The sponsorship obtained through event co-host Dan Sandoval was "a chief component in making this happen," said Slaughter.
Of the approximately 30 people who competed, three ultimately emerged as victors. Coming in second and third place were SMC students Derek Gill, 19, and Jack Hatton, 18, both winning prizes of $100 and $50, respectively.
"I think I am good in straight-out fighting. I am not as good in tactical fighting," said Gill, talking about what he thought gave him a winning edge.
Hatton had a different answer: "I have more experience because I play competitively and I can't be careless when I have the advantage."
As a truth, easing-up once a lead is gained could be costly. However, this was not a problem for first place winner Chris Brubaker.
"I think accuracy and more experience in playing was the deciding factor," said Brubaker, who walked home with $200, which he says will be going into buying a new X-box.
When asked if the event was going to become a regular activity in the coming semesters, Slaughter said, "Overall I think the event was a success. The next director of activities will keep this in mind."
Sandoval said, "It went really well, once we had everything set up it especially went smooth. We plan on having the event happen again, it is just a matter of when. Next time I want to bring in all different types of gamers, so I am willing to expand it to other games. I think Halo itself is one of the best first-person shooters on any gaming console right now."