I've gotten dangerously into Halo 3. It's an ENORMOUS amount of fun.
It can be involving, crushing, frustrating and joy-inducing.
Playing with sane strangers is okay, and playing with people you know or get to know is a good laugh.
I have a group of friends and coworkers I've played with a lot.
Playing team games without friends online is a lucky dip. You can get insane, singing, pot-smoking fools, or you can get pleasantly witty, serious players. If I play a few games in a row there's a meta-game I play in which I try to accrue a team of sane people. Sometimes this can take a while.
Last night I was playing teams alone. I think most of my other Halo 3 playing friends were either working or sleeping off a heavy night of gaming the day before. I played and won a game with some good, sane-sounding players. They might have been a bit young, but hey! If they play well that's to the advantage. I partied up with them. They knew each other from school, it seemed.
There was a between-game discussion about an English teacher's stash of Fruit Loops, and then one player asked us to wait to start another game while he went and got some Fruit Loops from the kitchen. I waited.
In the middle of the next match, one of them was on a score of 6 for a very long time, and he wasn't responding on voice chat. Sometimes players get disconnected, so I asked the other one, "Is your friend okay, is he lagging out or something?" and he said, "Nah, I bet he's gone to get more Fruit Loops."
I was laughing, but only half-laughing because I take the Halo ranking system far too seriously and if we had one player off getting fruit loops we were in danger of losing. It was beyond belief to me that someone would get up in the middle of a frantic game of Halo where other people were relying on him, and walk to the kitchen to grab some sweets. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"No way, come on, maybe he's just having a rough time with his connection."
We played for a bit longer. After about four minutes, the other kid's voice came back on the headset:
"If I get more than 10 kills in this game, I'll be impressed."
"I just went and ate a cheeseburger."
Apparently I take this game far too seriously.