Why This UCLA Professor Thinks She Inspired The Video Game ‘Halo’

By Paresh Dave
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Was the idea for ‘Halo’ inspired by a boy who wanted to protect a girl? Patricia Dickson, who dated Halo’s creator decades ago suggests it is possible.

LOS ANGELES

A brief friendship that began with an online chat and an awkward date may have inspired one of the world’s best-selling video games.

For two decades, UCLA associate professor of pediatrics Patricia Dickson remembered nothing of her college flirtation with Jason Jones, who went on to create the sci-fi shooter “Halo.”

But as memories Dickson said had been repressed flowed back in recent years, she has come to believe central ideas and characters in the entertainment franchise, including Dr. Catherine Halsey and the artificially intelligent assistant Cortana, reflect her preferences and personality.

Jones acknowledges his long-in-the-past relationship with Dickson, but denies her assertion that she served as his muse. Through a spokesperson for Activision Publishing, to which Jones reports, the media-shy video game luminary declined to comment further.

That leaves fans of the 16-year-old line of games, books and videos to decide whether to take Dickson, 44, at her word and where to fit her account in “Halo” lore.

She says she’s not seeking anything from Jones, who most recently has worked on the game “Destiny.” But in telling her story publicly for the first time, she wants to call attention to dissociative amnesia, a disorder she says erased specific memories and left her feeling unfulfilled after a falling-out with Jones.

“There’s people who think repressed memories aren’t a real thing,” Dickson said. “I have a real concrete example, and I feel like I should say something.”

Dickson and Jones both had just been dumped when the University of Chicago students connected online in January 1992. They bonded over their shared interest in Greek mythology. Her username was Ariadne, the overseer of the Labyrinth who helped Theseus defeat Minotaur; he had been working on the Macintosh computer game “Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete.”

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