The window to the epic then expands. Once the audience has connected with the individual(s) in this first stage of discovery, the scope of the world is revealed, and the universe opens up. This can be a very rough stage. It’s a change of view, and depending on one’s perspective, it either works for the fan or it doesn’t. The discoveries have been made, mysteries have been answered, and the goal now becomes one of finding a place in this new revelation, while learning of a much grander conflict that would soon become the most important problem to resolve. Where the first stage would be a victorious battle, the second would be the revelation of the greater war. Some people want more battles, but others are drawn to the war.

I Love BeesBefore Halo 2 was released, an event took place that ensured my place in the ranks of Halo story enthusiasts. Master Chief’s role was already solidified as the destined heroic savior for a world struggling to survive in a war against the Covenant and the Flood. In 2004, however, a new story was revealed. This one told nothing of the Master Chief beyond a single vague reference, and took place in parallel to his exploits but from the perspective of a number of average citizens on Earth, leading up to the Covenant’s arrival. It took its audience to an entirely new location, telling another engaging story from an alternate perspective within the same universe, while at the same time having the audience directly interact with its own story, playing out essential story events actually occurring in 2004. This was the viral Alternate Reality Game “I Love Bees“. And it made people answer payphones around the world.

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I was immediately hooked by the story that was told and introduced to the genre of ARGs, and it was then I really began to realize the potential in the expansiveness of the Halo franchise. Bungie had set up a dynamic, thriving universe, containing hints of many stories and battles that were still waiting to be told, plus the intimation of countless other side stories surely not yet revealed. It was then that I suddenly saw the Halo science fiction universe on par with that of Star Trek, Star Wars and The Matrix – to name a few.

During The Matrix’s theatrical run, for example, a small collection of animated shorts was released called The Animatrix. As fans had explored the potential scope of characters and events within the Matrix, some were officially created and compiled in this release, helping give much more flavor and depth to the Matrix universe.

In the same way, I Love Bees, along with creations in other media such as novels, comics, and fan fiction, opened the door for alternative storytelling within the Halo universe. Not only was the Master Chief the iconic hero with whom people could connect, there were now numerous sources for literary engagement, including the Halo Graphic Novel. The universe became alive – not only by creations of the original authors and artists, but also by the fans, the audience.


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