You Know, For Kids!
Leave it to Microsoft to render my original XBox obsolete, and to make me get a new XBox 360. Leave it to my friends' kids to introduce me to the expensive XBox habit in the first place.
I was first exposed to the XBox years ago, when my friend Juan bought one, ostensibly for his son Carlos. I say "ostensibly" because Carlos was about three at the time, and could no more play XBox than he could drive Juan's car or write Haiku. But I spent many an afternoon at Juan's house, playing Project Gotham Racing and other games, while Carlos held an unplugged controller and thought he was playing along.
By far the most engrossing XBox game was Halo. This is a futuristic "single shooter" game in which the player takes on the role of the Master Chief, a body-armored cyborg who uses special powers and an array of weapons to lead a bunch of soldiers against a cavalcade of intergalactic evil creatures and viruses, to save the world. Putting our heads together, Juan, myself, and, eventually, the fast-learning Carlos become thoroughly absorbed in strategies for the Master Chief to navigate successfully through his harsh, high-tech environment.
I must not have hidden my enthusiasm for Halo and the XBox, because Juan's family bought me one for Christmas that year. Eventually, Halo 2 was released, and it was as much fun as the original Halo. Together, the Halo pair became Microsoft's killer app, selling millions of copies and becoming the benchmark by which all other games of its type are measured.
Then a funny thing happened. My XBox generated great interest among my friends' children. Whenever I told them that I had an XBox, their eyes lit up, especially if they had an inferior game player, or no game player at all, at home. When my friends came to visit with their small children, the XBox became a superb occupier of the kids' attention in my otherwise child-unfriendly home. The machine practically paid for itself when, this past July 4, I was able to lure my friends' kids and their dirty sneakers off of my yellow Rick Lee leather chair for some Amped XBox snowboarding.
The problem is that Microsoft and its game producers keep churning out new games that will only play on the second generation XBox 360, a machine that costs hundreds of dollars even without some of the nifty accessories (such as hard drives and wireless controllers) that many users find necessary. The last straw was when I found out that the long-anticipated Halo 3, which will be released this September 25 (to a consumer frenzy, I assure you), will only be playable on the stunning-looking XBox 360. My plain black original XBox will be officially useless.
So, when I purchase my new XBox 360, as will invariably happen before the 25th, I will probably say what my former girlfriend, a child psychologist whose office was near my home, used to say when she stayed over on weeknights: "it's for the sake of the children."