If there’s something that I’ve learned about gamers, it’s that we like to torture ourselves. Seriously, it’s true. Whether it’s with a dungeon, a particularly hard boss, or maybe obtaining a certain achievement or level in a multiplayer game, we will beat our faces against the screen until we are a bloody mess in order to satisfy our goals. We’re masochists, really.
I think one of the more obvious symbols of this self-induced flaying would have to be the storied midnight launch. The midnight launch, the method of instant releases for both systems and games, brings a real life obstacle for a gamer to grind his way through. Something to set our hopes on and try to tackle. Though I’ve participated in many midnight launches in my day, none was so arduous as the quest to obtain my Playstation 2 back in 2000.
The plan was simple enough. As seniors in high school, we were going to skip the next day of class and get up early enough to beat the rush for the Playstation 2 as it released in stores across the Houston area. We were all going to crash at my place, wake up, get breakfast, and set about our glorious task. However, fate had other plans.
A brief glimpse at the nightly local news showed hordes of people clamoring like zombies over one another, waiting to get in line for the PS2, hoping against all hope to get one. At this point it was well before midnight… Never had we considered that we might actually have to camp out for one of these systems, but suddenly, the option was very real.
We immediately ran to my car and drove to a nearby Wal-Mart to see it with our own eyes, and sure enough, what we saw on the TV set was true: hundreds were gathered. And they were in line ahead of us. While I’d like to think we kept a cool head at this point, the truth is that we panicked. I remember my friend worriedly stating “We’re not going to get one,” as we sped away from Wal-Mart, trying to come up with a plan.
A quick tour of several stores showed that many people were setting up shop for the night, in some cases waiting 10-12 hours for a raffle drawing to maybe get a PS2. Eventually, we found a Circuit City. Our sources told us that Circuit City would have 14 PS2’s ready for sale in the morning. We checked out the line, and saw that there were already 7 people in it. Without hesitating, we sped back to my house, grabbed blankets and returned to the store, taking our spot in line and awaiting the 10 o’clock opening of the store. At this point it wasn’t even midnight.
The night itself was just as stressful. At one point, it poured rain on us. At another, a cop came by and threatened to make us leave because someone leaned against the door and set off the alarm. Someone that showed up early in the morning tried to cut in line. Other people tried to form their own line. People got testy and acted like douches.
In the end though, we prevailed, and managed to walk away with a PS2 each. To this day, I actually still have this launch console, and I might be the only one in the group who pulled that off. While it was a really crazy night, I can’t help but look back on it fondly. I have to say that I’m pretty proud that we had the stones to stay there all night. And come on, we all know the PS2 was so worth it in the long run.
So what about you guys? What midnight launches or video game releases have you participated in? Go!