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What is a halo moment?
September 30, 2008 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Does the phrase "halo moment" have any particular meaning outside the context of video games? How about within the context of people who play Halo? Does it simply describe a memorable scene from the game?
posted by Jeff Howard to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It seems like this phrase is used much more to describe Halo than other video games. A search for "halo moment" returns more hits than "metal gear moment" or "zelda moment" or "grand theft auto moment" so I thought it might be an popular phrase within that subculture.

There was also an article from last year in Digital Cinematography magazine with the following quote about the advertising campaign for Halo 3:
New Deal Studios took on the task of building the set, and it was there the diorama was shot in a room 75 feet long and 60 feet wide. The diorama was built as a historic "Halo moment" from the Battle of New Mombasa. The miniature included the vast landscape, still-frame explosions, buildings, debris, freeway sections, banshee, scorpion tank and warthog vehicles.
If you had never played Halo and you heard the phrase, how would you interpret it?
posted by Jeff Howard at 11:02 AM on September 30, 2008


Might it be in the sense that a "halo moment" is a moment when someone involved should be WEARING a halo? Or that the moment ITSELF should be wearing a halo, to differentiate it from other moments?

That was the sense I got from your example, that "The diorama was built as an historic highlighted moment from the Battle of New Mombassa."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2008


I have heard people in marketing talk about the "halo effect" or "brand halo" - where a positive attribute creates an expectation of future positivity. Imagine the iPod having a halo effect over the entire Apple brand.
posted by skylar at 11:31 AM on September 30, 2008


Halo moment means in the heat of battle, where the experience at that moment is very Halo specific (map, weapons, vehicles, game mechanics, whatever).

In similarity, I'd say that the playing Beach Assault map is very much a Return to Castle Wolfenstein "moment".
posted by wongcorgi at 11:42 AM on September 30, 2008


The Battle of New Mombasa is a pretty prominent part of the opening two hours of Halo 2. Hence, it's a historic Halo moment-- it's a major part of the game's canon and worldbuilding.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:43 AM on September 30, 2008


Halo has that saccharine soundtrack that allegedly enhances the thematics of the gameplay.

(not a big Halo fan, but that's my take on "Halo moment".
posted by troy at 11:43 AM on September 30, 2008


See also Halopedia's article on New Mombasa.

oh god, why am i such a halo canon geek
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:44 AM on September 30, 2008


Sometimes with migraines?
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:48 AM on September 30, 2008


The diorama was built as a historic "Halo moment" from the Battle of New Mombasa.

I'm pretty sure the quote is using the phrase "Halo moment" to mean "a moment in Halo", i.e. a specific point in time during the Halo game/continuity. The scene in the diorama wasn't actually one that occurred during any of the Halo games, so maybe it's just meant to showcase a typical "moment" during the "Halo experience".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2008


fairytale of los angeles: "The Battle of New Mombasa is a pretty prominent part of the opening two hours of Halo 2. Hence, it's a historic Halo moment-- it's a major part of the game's canon and worldbuilding."

I'm about as big a Halo fan as you'll find around here, and fairytale of los angeles is right. "Halo moment", at least in this context, literally means "a moment from Halo." You could use it similarly to describe, say, a Daily Show moment, or a Lost moment, or even a Biblical moment.

fairytale of los angeles: "See also Halopedia's article on New Mombasa.

oh god, why am i such a halo canon geek
"

The second time in as many days that one of my Halopedia articles has been referenced on Mefi! My geeky waste of time is vindicated.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read and listen to a ridiculous amount of games journalism, have played through all 3 Halo games multiple times, and have never heard anyone refer to a 'halo moment' before reading this. I'm sure some guy in his mom's basement just spit out a mouthful of Red Bull upon reading this so by all means, please correct me if this is a common phrase.
posted by mattholomew at 12:11 PM on September 30, 2008


In light of my earlier response, this:

The Battle of New Mombasa is a pretty prominent part of the opening two hours of Halo 2. Hence, it's a historic Halo moment-- it's a major part of the game's canon and worldbuilding.

Made me feel a little dumb.

In my defense I wouldn't know Halo if it bit me in the butt.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:15 PM on September 30, 2008


I'm pretty involved with games and gaming culture (Up until recently I developed them) but I have never played Halo.

I've never heard the phrase "Halo moment" before. I'm not sure I would get the intended meaning in context, I'm not aware of a single identifying moment in Halo, or in what qualities "a moment reminiscent of Halo" would have. Used outside of a gaming context I wouldn't associate it with the game at all and would probably think it had been miscapitalized and look up "halo" in the dictionary to see if there was a secondary meaning of the word that was being used.
posted by Ookseer at 12:18 PM on September 30, 2008


EmpressCallipygos: "In light of my earlier response, this:

The Battle of New Mombasa is a pretty prominent part of the opening two hours of Halo 2. Hence, it's a historic Halo moment-- it's a major part of the game's canon and worldbuilding.

Made me feel a little dumb.
"

I don't see why -- it's pretty much accurate. The combined levels of Outskirts and Metropolis (Old Mombasa and New Mombasa) make up the bulk of the game's opening story arc, and I think they're superb examples of video game worldbuilding, one of my favorites. Their design of Old Mombasa in particular just fascinates me: "ancient" 21st-century office buildings mixed in with traditional Muslim architecture and built over by looming futuristic tech. Loudspeakers blaring Swahili over the roars of spacecraft and lasers. A wartorn retro-futuristc slum, basically. It's very evocative.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:25 PM on September 30, 2008


> I read and listen to a ridiculous amount of games journalism, have played through all 3 Halo games multiple times, and have never heard anyone refer to a 'halo moment' before reading this. I'm sure some guy in his mom's basement just spit out a mouthful of Red Bull upon reading this so by all means, please correct me if this is a common phrase.

People seem to be using it in the sense of "that was a CLASSIC moment" when they record clips of their gameplay to circulate on YouTube. So a particularly good kill, or a particularly embarrassing mistake or anything that is noteworthy.

It helps to know that it isn't official; there isn't a part of the game called a halo moment. I thought it might be connected to Cortana moments, but I've never played Halo.

http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Cortana_Moments

I heard the phrase "halo moment" used in connection with architecture the other day and I was trying to figure out whether the speaker was using the video game as a metaphor in a way I didn't grasp; above and beyond the normal angelic halo metaphor.
posted by Jeff Howard at 12:33 PM on September 30, 2008


Jeff Howard, those "Cortana moments" are a special case, referring to a narrative device Bungie used in the third game. According to the story, the protagonist's AI assistant, Cortana, has been taken prisoner by the big boss brain of the zombie-like hive mind called the Flood. Every once in awhile during the campaign, the player is halted by a staticky "transmission" from Cortana, screen-filling visions imparting cryptic messages peppered with references to the Halo backstory and to Bungie lore.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:12 PM on September 30, 2008


See, I thought it meant High Altitude, Low Opening, a fun thing to do when you're wearing a parachute. I reckon there'd be a few moments in that.
posted by b33j at 1:21 PM on September 30, 2008


I had sort of split reaction to the phrase "halo moment" - I'm an avid Halo 3 player, and I just finished a degree in Psychology in June. My first thought was that it could be a moment that is so common as to be cliche in Halo multiplayer games (ie getting killed/killing someone on The Pit level by camping the sword spawn). Either that, or a moment of the above-linked "halo effect", but with people (ie you meet a new person who cracks a great joke; you may be more likely to think better of that person in other areas.)
posted by DulcineaX at 1:31 PM on September 30, 2008


A "halo moment" is a "moment that matters", the key moment that influences all the other non-moments in a particular sequence of actions. Apparently Brian Walker of IDEO's Smart Spaces referenced it in a talk recently.
posted by Hogshead at 2:54 PM on September 30, 2008


That's precisely the reference I'm trying to unpack.
posted by Jeff Howard at 3:26 PM on September 30, 2008


In that case, I read it two ways:

1. Nothing to do with Halo. Instead, Walker is talking about the "ah-AAAAHH!" moment when the clouds open, the shaft of light from heaven strikes you and your purpose on Earth is made clear, except he's a designer and so he's talking about opening a hotel-room door and walking into the interior for the first time. That's how I read it, and I work in the games industry. It didn't occur to me that he might be referring to the game.

2. If Walker is referencing the game, then he is probably talking about the fact that the Halo trilogy's design philosophy is based upon the concept of "thirty seconds of fun". To quote from Wired 15.09:

"The idea was to have Halo repeatedly immerse players in hectic battles that would last for half a minute — just long enough to create heart-thumping chaos and the risk of death — before offering a respite."

If a non-games designer is going to talk about a capital-h Halo Moment, that's almost certainly what they would mean. However, that doesn't fit with what Walker is describing in the write-up, which leads us to a third possible interpretation:

3. Walker is an arse.

I don't know if any of that's helpful.
posted by Hogshead at 4:51 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


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