One night last year, I bundled up and walked to Mary Markley and climbed the stairs down to the South Pit. Some friends of mine were hosting a study break for gamers along with ResComp Residence Hall and I decided to make an appearance.The entire experience just seemed otherworldly to me. Firstly, I wasn’t doing much studying at the time, so the event wasn’t really a “study break” for me, it was just more like “Tuesday night.” On a surreal note, tables and tables of gleaming, white iMacs crowded the pit, and people were actually using them for gaming.In the years after Apple founder Steve Jobs’ removal from the company, the Mac platform suffered the same slow defeat as a leader in exile. When I told my high school friends that I was getting a Mac four years ago, I was told time and again that Apple computers were “pieces of shit,” unless, of course, I was using it for graphics or video editing. I always took that opportunity to lie. Of course I would be creating intricate 3-D models on a computer that takes as long to open Photoshop as it does for Lynyrd Skynyrd to get to the solo in “Freebird.” Unfortunately, yelling doesn’t make either one go faster.When the first true Apple computer was released, it came with not one but two joysticks to play games. The Apple II monitors supported tens of times more colors than their PC counterparts.’ Here was the birthplace of Lord Britton’s “Ultima” series; here was the platform of choice for the epic “Wolfenstein 3-D;” here was the birthplace of consumer computer gaming.Apple’s early success did not deter IBM, which was cloned to form Compaq, HP and a host of others until today’s PC of choice, Dell. With no clones, Mac game developers couldn’t sell nearly as many games as their PC counterparts, and the entire field of Mac gaming began to crumble. At least, that is, until 1999. Steve Jobs returned to the helm, salvaging Apple with the most successful computer of all time, the iMac. For the Mac faithful, Jobs’ second coming was akin to Jesus’s almost 2000 years before. People suddenly had a reason to trash their PCs and go Mac. All that was needed was a game.It came in the form of “Halo,” a first-person shooter by a longtime Mac developer, Bungie. The divine implications of its name were not to be overlooked; Halo would single-handedly save Mac gaming.Watching videos of the 1999 Macworld conference that showcases early builds of “Halo” is like the day after an all-night drunken thrashing for the Mac faithful. You’ve got the hopeless confusion over what went wrong the previous night and the guilt and shame over loving someone who is now in bed with someone else. For the uneducated: “Halo” was supposed to be a breakthrough Mac game set to redefine an entire gaming genre. Not only was the game going to be released for the Mac, Bungie was going to release it first for the Mac. Steve Jobs was obviously enjoying his new title of CEO, beaming as the demo for “Halo” played on the large projection screens. This game would become the reason to buy a Mac. It was a combination of an intense shock to Mac gaming, which had been in cardiac arrest for twenty years, and to the Mac platform as a whole. And then this last hope, much like the original Apple II, started to slip away. Apple nemesis Microsoft invaded Bungie with offers of a buyout. Microsoft needed a killer application to sell their new XBox gaming console, and “Halo” fit the bill perfectly. After the buyout, “Halo” was going to be released simultaneously for the Mac, PC and XBox, then for the XBox and the Mac (after some delay), then just the XBox. For Apple devotees, the theft of this last great hope for Mac gaming was just another in a series of stinging blows from the giant hand of Microsoft.Maybe Mac gaming just wasn’t meant to evolve past a certain point. Some of my finest memories of fifth grade come from the screens of an Apple II, ancient even then. When it was raining outside, our class was kept in the Math-Science room. We gravitated to the two Apple II monitors and planned our trips to Oregon. The opening screens, which invited us to give names to our family members, would be furiously skipped – anything to get out on the trail and start hunting. People who would never play video games today can still remember the hunt – how fast the squirrels were and how little meat (two pounds, at most) they offered – and, especially, how the small crosshairs would wait patiently in the center of the screen for a bison to slowly lumber across the open middle.Not once did we make it to Oregon. Malaria would kill my family or the recess bell would ring, but damned if we weren’t well-fed.Forest still plays Breakout on his old Apple II computer. Let him know your high score. He can be reached at fcasey@umich.edu.

Chelsea Trull

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