Xbox Live Starter Kit

Since we've moved to a bi-weekly format for the show I figured I'd have the time to write a bit more for the site.  (pause) That sounds like a dedication to a continuing column which, unless you are Greg Sewart, is a guarantee of a stillborn series, so I'll redact that, which given that I am writing this and have the ability to actually re-write that and did not must mean something....

Most likely that I am a hackneyed writer and wanted to keep that plug in for inveterate (not invertebrate) Greg Sewart and his dedication to a project once he begins it.

Today I am pulling something from my somewhat-large collection of video games and associated detritus.  This was the first thing I saw:

In 2002, the future of online involved getting in a car and driving to a store to buy a box of things.

In 2002, the future of online involved getting in a car and driving to a store to buy a box of things.

Xbox Live launched on Friday the 15th of November in 2002. That jars with my memory because I thought it was a Thursday, something I thought I vividly remembered because I took the day off for it.  I was at a local Target store at opening because I was already told not to even try the game retailers in the area as there were so few units available.  When it comes to launch rarity the strategy is to go to the retailers of the "normals".  Locations like Wal*Mart and Target, due to their clout, get a ration of everything but their consumers are not aware of the highly specialized product, so it is usually your best place to go on launch day.

I was not the only one on that cold morning at Target. A similarly aged, similarly white male, similarly wore a grimace that admitted that he too had taken the day off for this stupid thing.  We were out of luck.  "To the Wal*Mart!"  We both drove down the hill and ... this is where my memory fails me.  According to my memory I purchased the kit there, drove home and played NBA2K for most of the day, my attention completely absorbed by the novelty of being able to play basketball against people around the country, seamlessly.

But, when I opened up the kit again today, which still contains the original disc, manual, warranty card and headset, I also found a shipping receipt from Microsoft Corporation in Grove City Ohio, which shows that they shipped the kit to me on November 18th (the following Monday).  For just $49.99, plus $4.47 sales tax and $7.95 shipping I had opened the door to the beginning of the end of disconnected gaming.

Yes, the door was opened to inducements of adrenalin, to the artifice of community and the emotional experience of being on the leading edge of a new powerful and completely undirected arc of discovery.  But the door was also leading itself open to endless patches, DLC, a new outlet for racism and child abuse.  Ah well, none of that mattered back then, what mattered was getting a user name.  I went first for "aspro" because, I am an idiot.  When I saw that was taken I imaginatively tried my first name.  Taken as well.  For reasons unknown I then put in the name, "Claude", and I guess since this consumer-focused cob's web was made by Microsoft and not UbiSoft the name was available, and remains my handle to this day.

So I guess I must have taken a second day off work when all of that happened, probably the following Thursday when you consider shipping time.  And knowing myself, that initial Friday, after my unsuccessful search I likely went into work anyway. Or did I?

Well that's a story for another day.