March 20, 2023
The red ring of death stalked all my friends, then it came for me

The red ring of death stalked all my friends, then it came for me

A stylized image shows a power button and an Xbox logo with the red ring error symbol.

It would come sooner or later. There was no escape.
Image: Microsoft / Evan Amos / Kotaku

Hidden from the hustle and bustle of Jamaica Avenue, down a spiral staircase, the store looked like a mausoleum, with piles of broken down PS2s, Xbox OGs and GameCubes lining the walls. This little store in Jamaica Colosseum Mall was the same place I once bought Burst cell on PS2, Doom 3 for Xbox, and the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack, among many others. But the dead consoles served as a shocking reminder that however vivid the worlds these produced boxes might feel, sooner or later our dream machines would stop working.

At the end of 2005, at the dawn of a new generation of consoles, I intellectually realized that over time, some of the new, cutting-edge Xbox 360s and not-yet-released PlayStation 3s would one day die. . Maybe after another decade this store would be filled with hourglass-shaped white monoliths and shiny black Foreman grilles. But not yet. It was the start of a new era, after all.

Back then, my teenage social circle was busy bickering about stupid console wars, arguing in fast food joints over whether or not Killzone 2The E3 2005 demo was real, or our PlayStation assurances from friends that once we have seen the next generation SOCOMwe would leave Halo and Xbox still. But we all agreed on one thing: we were all excited about the crazy new possibilities these new machines promised. HD graphics, better personalized music playlists, a conclusion (finally!) Halo 2and the promise of true next-gen experiences like armament of war. What a time to live.

And in an age of expensive texting plans and limited social media, the online functionality of new HD consoles would soon mark a shift in our social lives. In fact, this is the very reason that many of us have sought out high-speed internet. United online, our circle would surely remain as bright as the flashy rings of the Xbox 360 itself.

We all saved enough from all the random jobs we had at the time to buy 360s and satisfy the desire to escape that beckoned us after the last period. Our afternoons were filled with round after round of Halo 2 (ultimately Halo 3), talking trash, arguing about whether Korn was better off without Head, figuring out the best way to apply armament of war cover tactics for Haloconvince someone to give lost planet a try, ordering Chinese takeout (leaving one particular friend stuck with the bill. We’re good now, right?), swapping burnt Incubus and HIM discographies to rip onto our 360 hard drives, blasting Lamb of God Sacramentand say things like “oh my god, did you see that Mass Effect game coming out?Oversight Sounds crazy!” and “Would you kindly die so I can take your sniper rifle?” Solo or multiplayer, gaming has never been so exciting or promising.

Marcus Fenix ​​shoots the Locust soldiers.

Who knew day E would be the least of our fears?
Image: Coalition

But between howls about the killings and the chainsaw aliens, the discussions sometimes turned to the rumors surfacing on the forums about the sudden failure of the Xbox 360. It always happened the same way: a black screen, a bunch of red lights around the power button and silence. Soon this failure had a name: The Red Ring of Death, or RRoD for short. I started out as a skeptic and quickly became a denier. This can’t happen to us, I thought. We all relied on 360 to stay connected and play together as we grew into adulthood. This could not happen to us.

The apparent cause always varied: different people playing different games for different times. Eventually, it seemed like the only thing these stories had in common was that three-quarters of the power button glowed red like a stoplight. I thought people just needed to take better care of their machines. It was not good. It made no sense. Now was not the time for the 360s to start dying. We all thought he was still at his best. Even in our best days.

We thought wrong.

The first of us who fell victim had the worst. Over the course of a few years, one particular friend will go through four Xbox 360s. At that time, our social circle was in panic mode. We tried to become experts on the models shipped when, trying to match the internet anecdotes with what we heard from the victims we knew personally. Which 360 were the most sensitive? Were the launch models correct? The Halo 3 editing? The elite? Does horizontal or vertical orientation matter? The panic of losing our machines made it difficult to be sure. But it wasn’t just about missing Halo nights. The 360 ​​had become central to our socialization.

We all started physically separating after high school. Sure, MySpace was one thing, but it was Xbox Live that really kept our social circle intact. This is where we not only played, but also talked about music, movies, life. All. Live became something of a safe digital space as we faced the challenges of becoming adults.

But the red rings followed us online. When one of us stumbled upon them, part of that social circle, like the error sign on the machine itself, was extinguished. Microsoft’s repair program was generous, but we also couldn’t get rid of the fear of having to spend an extra three or four hundred dollars. We worried about the time we had to spend on the machine. How much time we should spend with each other.

We were all worried about playing on borrowed time. A game of Capture the Flag could be interrupted in red. Some, like me, have tried to dig into denial. How can the problem be so widespread? But when someone with a Halo 3 edition finally got the error, the inevitability of death was too bare bones to deny. Eventually, someone even did an RRoD on an Elite, which we were sure was bulletproof. I remember a brief exchange of text messages. “I did everything to keep him safe! I had three feet of space around it and an intercooler! How does this continue?

The repair time took weeks. And in the hectic buzz of moving from high school to college and getting a full-time job, those weeks made it hard to keep up with each other and keep in touch. A 360 death meant you wouldn’t talk to anyone for weeks. Forget the tricks of Halo. We weren’t just deprived of our favorite game, the red rings were actively pushing us away from each other.

A lone Spartan stands on an empty Halo 3 map.

Grenades were swapped for tumbleweeds as my friends fell through the rings.
Screenshot: 343 Industries / Kotaku

The red rings of death became a mist that engulfed each of us, one by one. Somehow my launch pad remained free, but the fear of it hitting me grew too strong. Towards the end of the decade, I started exploring the PlayStation 3 library and tried to convince friends to do the same. But the damage was done. Time continued to pass and the Xbox 360, once the center of my social circle, did not fail us. He killed us, one by one.

In the blur of the years in which everyone I knew suffered from dark circles, things started to calm down. The newer Xbox models seemed to fix the underlying overheating issue, but our online social circle was smaller then.

Even so, the 360 ​​generation was far from over. We had come through the worst and still had some amazing matches to look forward to. One evening I, the only survivor, sat down to start a new Mass Effect playthrough to prepare for what’s next.

But it was not to be. A series of eerily familiar lights appeared on the face of my Xbox, denying me entry into the future world of the sci-fi RPG. After ripping all my friends apart, the red ring of death had finally come for me.

#red #ring #death #stalked #friends

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