The New Year may be upon us, but Old Man Winter remains, settled coldly into Seattle’s rain-soaked streets as the days inexorably wax and wane without so much as a glimpse of the shimmering Daystar. At Bungie, that means that in the spirit and tradition of gaming and competition, we’ll be pitting our own beloved band of brothers and sisters against one another in a series of skill-based feats of prowess such as SkeeBall, Hacky Sack, and, of course, Halo.
That’s right, you surly bunch of mother suckers, it’s time for the Bungie Winter Pentathlon! The time for grown ass men to vehemently argue over the skill required to let loose a blue shell in Mario Kart is over. The Age of Throwing Down has been thrust upon us!
And as you may have guessed by the preceding paragraph’s employment of exclamation points, we’re pretty stinkin’ excited about it. Not just because Bungie is bigger, better, and more badass than ever before. Not just because we’re going to have an excessive array of extravagant snack foods on hand. And not just because it means that we’ll be spending yet another workday playing all kinds of our very most favorite games. But because…okay wait those three things pretty much nail it right on the head.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Bungie Pentathlon, now is the time to get up to speed
This coming Friday we’ll be breaking away from our first week back from a two week holiday hiatus to rage against the dying of the light, play an absurd pile of games, and keep on feeding our already fattened faces with soft drinks, beer, and a wealth of ridiculously rich and totally delicious snack food. Jealous?
You should be. Ain’t no debauchery like Bungie debauchery. The day begins as it should with a studio-supplied smorgasbord of breakfast foods - a vast variety of toasted, baked, and deep fried carbohydrate-comprised foodstuff delectably injected with random meats, jams, and jellies subsequently drenched and drizzled with sugary syrup sweetness. For lunch we hearken back to our roots with delicious Chicago-style deep dish pizza. And to wash it all down, two kegs of sudsy brew, plenty of canned beverages, and eventually for the losing teams, ice cold shame.
And to what God do we offer up such a grand and orgiastic feast?
It’s huge, it’s metal, it’s forged from the fires of Mount Awesome. It’s a fist clutching a fully charged, honest-to-Uranus lightning bolt that’s been freshly snatched right out of the raging heavens. An impossible feat? Not for us, friends. And one team is gonna get their names forever emblazoned on the side of this amazing monstrosity of tasty metallic defiance.
Last year it was the Newbies, bolstered by their breakout Rock Band stage performance that shook the studio to its very core, leaving the other three schools’ confidence completely shattered while simultaneously cementing the younglings’ status as the team to beat for this year’s competition.
But which team will go down in Fistory in 2010?
Each team captain has a monumental task on their hands this year. They’ll each be steering a whopping 43 hands through raging waters while the other scurvy dogs do everything in their power to pimp slap their vessel into so much waterlogged wreckage.
Here are this year’s teams, listed in order of best to worst performance in the ’09:
Led by Dave Matthews (yup, he’s heard that joke), the Newbies are the returning champs. The team to beat. The best of the best. Bolstered by their wide-eyed enthusiasm and youthful vigor, the Newbs might be green, but they are very, very mean. And did I mention that they won last year?
Led by Chris Alderson, the Middle School crew boasts some of our studio’s self-professed best Halo players. Word on the streets is that they turned in an abysmally dismal bush league performance in a Reach scrimmage earlier in the week. Went and got themselves trounced. Posts on Facebook indicate that their confidence is at an all time low. Was it all clever obfuscation meant to foster complacency among the other teams or are the Middle Schoolers crumbling from the inside out? We’ll find out on Friday!
These guys and gal have been around the block and back again. If there was an incontinence event, they’d totally dominate. But there isn’t, because that wouldn’t go down so well on the webcams. They’ll need to rely on their wisdom, cunning, and intellect to compensate for their lack of razor sharp reflexes and their overabundance of Marty O’Donnell. Will Curtis Creamer and his cantankerous crew still overcome and seize the day with chants of “Cup stays home!” or will they pretend they played the role of the good sports to let the other teams win? Only time will tell (and it ain’t on their side).
No longer fresh and not quite aged to perfection, the Old Skool class, led by Chris Opdahl, might just be the sleeper team in 2010. Or they just might be asleep at the wheel, their training time squandered and lost to an extended holiday break and a lack of urgency and structure in their training protocol. They’ve been quiet. Real
quiet. Might be up there, in dem trees like the Predator, waiting to swoop down on the Pentathlon and take some trophy skulls. Or they might be prepping to get their ass kicked by Danny Glover.
Don’t be coming up in here trying to tell us that a traditional Pentathlon consists of five different events. Language and Mathematics are flexible constructs. Simple human devices that we bend and break to our will like so many bendable and breakable things.
This year we’re rocking seven events - each and every one a paragon of amusing pastimes.
Heroes of Newerth
This DotA-inspired multiplayer RTS is 2010’s jock-friendly affair. Participants will need to rely on reflex, athletic acumen, and their uncanny ability to remain uncomfortably hunched over a keyboard and mouse for hours on end if they want to walk away with the large pile of Pentathlon points on offer!
It’s Furious Five on Five Mouse Fingerin’ Action! (And I hear David Allen totally sucks at it.)
A nice friendly game of Pictionary seems pretty self explanatory, right? Wrong! Picture a double-elimination, no holds barred tournament saddled with all kinds of rules and stuff. Not feeling so smart now, are you? There will be NO talking, NO referring to objects or persons, NO pre-arranged gestures, and ABSOLUTELY NO hints as to the length of the given solution.
What there will be: hastily scrawled yet tastefully artistic illustrations, plenty of Pentathlon points up for grabs, and quite possibly, untold scores of dead and desecrated bodies.
Take one tiny crocheted bean bag, add patchouli, stand in a circle, and kick. Repeat as necessary. When the bell rings it’s time to return to class!
Halo: Reach Super Secret Game Mode
Some number of players will square off against some number of other players in what will undoubtedly be a rousing and highly competitive game of something we’re not talking about yet!
Points awarded for doing all kinds of untold stuff!
Halo 3: ODST Firefight
Four players. Windward. No secondary skulls. Heroic difficulty. Best score after three consecutive sets or twenty minutes, whichever comes first. And before you get all high and mighty and report back that real men play Firefight on Legendary, let me say this: we are not
real men. Never claimed to be. So. Suck. It. Down.
Yeah, that’s right. We rented a SkeeBall machine. It’s gonna be like Chucky McCheese all up in this -blam!-in’ animatronic hizzy. Cept’ will have way more jokes about balls and way better pizza. And there will be no touching, groping, or leaning on the machine. It's not that kind of gal.
The Wolf is on the prowl. Those who believe they have some modicum of brain prowess can enter his labyrinthine world of wickedly elaborate and dastardly devious puzzles. Totally rules me out. Roger’s probably gonna slip into a crazy costume too. Gonna be nuts. Brains will melt.
So the teams stay loose between bouts (and so the non-competitive types have something to do), we’ll also have a host of other games on display, including, but not limited to, The Barrython (Street Fighter), the Minithon (Heroscape), the FIFI 2010 Soccer Invitational (some kind of digital American Football derivative), Ping Pong (Ping Pong), and much, much more!
But it ain’t all fun and games. As Dunn said last year, while the Pentathlon is a celebration of games, it’s also a celebration of how we at Bungie make our living. So while we raise a glass in honor of the gaming spirit, we also put cold, sharpened steel to the necks of those among us who have excelled and secured a lasting place within our walls. The ceremony may be ultra secretive, but the blade’s been seen on Twitter, so I guess we might as well give you a peek. Like most swords, it is indeed double-edged.
So here’s to gaming. Here’s to snack food. Here’s to the past, the present, and the future of Bungie! (And here’s to maybe seeing Marty in drag. Again.)
What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Webcams will be rolling and we’ll keep you all kinds of updated, Seventh Column. Stay Tuned.