In the year 2552, Troy Dunn and his BR55 Battle Rifle are all that stand between free life in the universe and its total obliteration at the hands of alien religious fanatics. In the year 2009, Dunn is still a hero, just not galactically recognized. Revered as “Snake” among the regulars at  Gamers Lounge in Santa Fe, the 23-year-old security guard is also a state champion in Halo 2, the second in a series of multiplayer shoot-em-up video games for Xbox.
SFR: Tell me about the world of Halo and why you’re so into it.
TD: I was actually, at first, a really hardcore Sony player. As a matter of fact, I didn’t want an Xbox until I started playing Halo 1. You come onto this planet and these aliens called Covenants are coming to take over and you’re just blasting them away. The whole story line just got me sold on it. And the weapons were great.
How long ago was that?
I’m 23 years old. I started playing Halo when it first came out when I was 15 or 16 years old. I never thought I would get as far as I did in Halo. It was just amazing. I chose Halo 2 because it is multiplayer; you get to play against other people on a headset. Playing against someone else across the world is just awesome, smack talking and stuff like that. I never thought I would get five kills in a row.
What does that mean, five kills in a row?
Five kills in a row is a killing spree. It’s like going five and 0; you get five kills before you die. I started to get really good at Halo 2, and so I went down to Albuquerque and played in a couple tournaments. I did OK. Then they had a big tournament at the Albuquerque Convention Center and I came out in first place in FAA or Free-For-All, where there are six players, so it’s you versus everyone else. They gave me a little title, No. 1 in state. That’s what really got me onto it—just the thrill of beating somebody in a multiplayer and just being good at something.
Do you find yourself going into a different mode when you’re in a tournament setting?
Absolutely. I go in to win. I’m all balls-to-the-wall and ready-to-go. ‘Don’t step up if you can’t keep up,’ that’s what I tell a lot of people. On most games I try to talk smack. Usually I can’t back it up. That’s what I love about Halo: I can back up most of it.
Hit me with your best smack line.
‘It’s on like Donkey Kong.’
Do you have trouble finding people that can match you?
I did. I’ve had all kinds of people come up to me and say, ‘Hey! I want to play you.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, let’s play.’ I didn’t know anybody in Halo 2 that would ever beat me. I did find one eventually. He’s named Jordan and he’s based here in Santa Fe, which really surprised me. He’s pretty damned good. I don’t know if he’s better than me. I hate to say that, of course.
Do you think playing Halo helps you at all in, you know, the real world?
It does! It helps me think a little bit faster. It’s almost like an art, playing the video game, because you’re sitting there and you have to have reflexes, you have to decide what you’re going to do: Where am I going to throw my grenades? How many shots am I going to hit him with before he goes down? But it’s definitely also a stress reliever. I work in security and I am a supervisor so it gets stressful. I deal with a lot of stuff, and I go home, play video games and unload on that. It’s where I unwind, just there sitting in front of the TV pressing buttons.
Is Halo like World of Warcraft, where you design your own character?
No, you just are a regular Master Chief going against other Master Chiefs. What separates you from them is your gamer tag and the kills to the right. There’s a little board that shows how many kills you have when you hit the select button. I’m Snake7700.
What’s the 7700 stand for?
It was supposed to be 0077, as in double-O-seven, because I like James Bond. But that was taken, so I had to switch to 7700.
And how many kills do you have?
In the first year it came out, I probably had close to 200,000 kills.
Do you ever get worried that you won’t be as good at the next game when Halo 2 is obsolete?
That happened when Halo 3 came out. I was worried at the fact the weapons were different. I’m still pretty good at that, but it’s like a star that burns twice as bright only burns half as long, So, with Halo 3, I’m just wondering when I’m going to fall because there is going to be a lot more better people out there.
Fifty years from now, will you pull out the Xbox to show your grandchildren what you’ve got?
Yes, I would. I’m going to have an old Xbox and, actually, I still have my first Halo 2 [Limited Edition Xbox]. When the time comes, when I’m a grandpa, I’m going to bust it out when everyone else is playing basketball, and I’ll be like, ‘I may be older, but I can still move my thumbs.’