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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Homestead II: The Rivalry'

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It was the summer of 2005, as I remember it. The map was Ivory Tower. No time limit. Just me, my brother, and a 'Halo 2' match to 100 points. Today would decide once and for all who the greatest 'Halo' player in the Waite household was. We sat down in the basement, our wits and reflexes prepared for the epic showdown of our lifetime.

As long as I can remember, my brother and I have been competing. Not just your average, run-of-the-mill, normal sibling rivalry, but a cutthroat variety of competition that drew power from our souls and an unquenchable desire to win and better each other. It first manifested itself in playing baseball in our backyard, with Nick destroying me game after game, but I refused to quit. No matter what, I was going to beat him one day.

He got control of the rocket and sniper spawns. He was crouched up top, waiting for me to make my move every single time, and I hurled myself at him, dying again and again in my vain attempts to find a weak spot in his armor. It was at this point that I allowed myself something I knew would give me an edge, even if it killed my enjoyment of the game in its entirety.

I got angry.

In line with our baseball heritage, we gobbled up every baseball game we possibly could for our NES and SNES. Once again, our rivalry flared as Nick would repeatedly master the nuances of each game and I was left floundering, always a step and a run behind. I didn't understand how he could dedicate himself to each game with such intensity. Each time I took the controller, I knew I was probably going to lose. But I wasn't going to allow him the pleasure of seeing me slink away in despair, completely giving up. I was going to win. One day, I was going to win.

Fueled by slightly post-pubescent rage, I finally broke Nick's defenses and started controlling the top of the map. Slowly, but surely, I whittled away at his lead, batting away his every advance with all the grace and self-assurance my skills allowed me. And then it hit me: I wasn't enjoying this. I wasn't being competitive. I was just being angry. I slowly relaxed, and simply tried to enjoy this brother-against-brother match of the decade.

Our competitiveness didn't truly show until the release of Bungie's opus 'Halo 2.' Suddenly, we had an entire world to compete with. Together, we played match upon match upon match, taking all comers and winning a good chunk of them.

But quietly, silently, the old rivalry flared up as Nick started playing with better players, and I began to view him as a no-fun tryhard, a plague upon 'Halo' players who actually played for fun. He was no true fan; I was going to prove it. I threw down the gauntlet: a duel, a fight to the death, pistols and Battle Rifles at dusk. First man to 100 points was the better, the other was the lesser. It was time to settle this once and for all.

I had let my guard down. I was so convinced that being a better player was tied to being angry and upset that I completely lost all fire and motivation. My 15-20 point lead disappeared. One mistake after another wore me down and weakened my resolve. It culminated in my brother's victory, his 100 kills to my paltry 80.

I never forgot that match. To this day, it drives me to be a better 'Halo' player, to learn the game inside and out and to never, ever accept defeat without doing everything possible. It took years for the full effect of that defeat to strike me, but I've never forgotten it. From that single fateful day in 2005, I learned that having the mindset to win doesn't mean you have to be a jerk, it doesn't mean you have to be an arse, and it doesn't even mean trampling on the necks of those beneath your skill level.

It just means you have to want it more than the person you're playing.

 An hour-long battle, and this is what I had to show for it. All along, he'd had the mindset to win, and the fact that I had no such drive was my downfall. Even with this massive opportunity to gloat, my brother showed humility in victory. He turned to me, smiled, and simply said:
'Good game.'

Aaron Waite would like to set up a rematch with his brother. If he's not too chicken, that is.

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