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On May 6th, 2015, queer games critic Aevee Bee penned a personal essay titled “I love my untouchable virtual body”. In the text, she talks about the dodge mechanic in the action role-playing game Bloodborne, which negates all harm dealt to the player during an incredibly brief window of time. Bee wishes that this evade was a superpower she possessed: “that if you could fit every moment of pain in that one tenth of a second you could be invincible for the rest of your life.”
But your character in Halo 2 is not meant to directly avoid damage like this. Halo’s virtual bodies are meant to be used, mangled, and riddled with bullet holes. Corpses are strewn across battlefields to show where danger resides. In the gametype Oddball, skulls are objectives and props that are handled like bowling balls and not like the remains of a human being. The only way to heal wounds is to find cover and wait: to slink away and hide from the violent world.
In 2004, Halo 2 was the first game I played online with a public voice chat, and with that my first encounters with homophobic language. These outbursts, most often due to rage, always centered around the body: physical harm, rape, and death. My real body was never in peril, but my developing queer self was under attack through the internalization of this homophobia. This queer self had to heal, and the only way was to find cover and wait.
Oddball is a short machinima film with all footage taken directly from Halo 2, with the help of the modification Project Cartographer. All text is appropriated from real conversations between players in various Halo games, taken from YouTube videos uploaded between 2006 - 2010.
Oddball is view from December 1st through the 13th, 2019, at The Ralph M. Parsons Graduate Art Lobby-Gallery at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA.
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