The line starts here...
With the next-generation in full swing, and publishers scheming to separate us from our holiday cash, it's inevitable you'll be tempted to take part in the ancient gamer ritual known as the 'Midnight Launch'. Originating with the release of Grand Theft Troglodyte, back in 50,000 B.C., the practice of queuing for hours to play a game for 20 minutes before passing out has long been a staple of gaming culture. And while some wonder if midnight launches are worth the effort in this brave new age of online retailers, the sheer number of modern gamers at midnight releases indicate they aren't going anywhere soon.
I'm not here to tell you whether or not to join the crowd. That decision is up to you. But if you are planning to line up at your local game store the night before launch day, I can at least prepare you for the people you'll meet...
As well as marking the start of the launch line, the Long-Hauler stands (lounges, squats, sleeps) as a monument to fanboy resolve. No wait is too long. No local news station too condescending (see slide #4). They'll happily brave poor weather and snide remarks to see their names etched into gaming history. And while outsiders may mock the Long-Hauler for their monk-like dedication (to an admittedly non-monk cause), they still command a quiet respect from those who line up in their shadow. Long live the Long-Hauler, I say.
The Condescending Reporter
And yet, rather than treat a midnight launch with at least a sliver of respect, the Condescending Reporter is often spotted singling out the most awkward gamer in line and (barely) holding back a smirk as they ask them about queuing up for a silly game. Worst yet is the on-air segment, which typically ends with the main anchors farting out something like Don't think you'd ever convince me to stand in line for a video game, how about you Donny? before checking in with weatherman Chip Friendly.
Locating the Bro is easy. One need only sniff out the skunky aroma of the Bro's favorite body spray, scan the line for their stylishly askew hat, or listen for their poetic words of wisdom (Man, fuck this fucking line... I need a smoke). As the morning approaches, the Bro will make his alpha status all the more clear, through useless acts of defiance against hired security, or mumbled threats about that fucking guy's starting to piss me off. And if you think leaving the line will mean an end to your Bro encounter, you're sure to find them again online...
*Bros depicted in image may not actually be Bros. Please don't beat us up.
But is the Regular really so bad? Perhaps it's jealousy that makes the Regular a launch line nuisance. After all, wouldn't we all appreciate an 'in' with the Game Store Soldier? Don't we all wish we had an advantage over the hundreds of others in line, no matter how meaningless? Let's face it, if we knew Carl, we'd totally be asking him to sneak us in through the back.
One can't be too hard on the Comedian, though. Like everyone else, the Comedian is excited for the gaming nirvana ahead and simply seeking a way to kill time that doesn't involve refreshing Facebook every three minutes. From a certain point of view, they're the social glue that keeps the line in good spirits. Thing is, as time marches on, the Comedian's laughs become half-hearted chuckles, and soon their wry observations and oh-so-timely references start to grow stale. Yeah, we know it'd be hilarious if we were all standing out here for the wrong game. You're right, that guy who got the first copy does look like a crackhead Justin Bieber. Now shut up and be miserable like the rest of us!
Photo: Daily Mail
The Game Store Soldier
Launch Soldiers come in multiple varieties. First, there are the sparkly-eyed rookies who embrace the opportunity to show their bosses how well they can handle a horde. Then there are the stoic warriors who know all the stock answers and look minutes away from abandoning their post to walk slowly into the nearest ocean. In each case, the Soldier is a natural target for the Bro, Comedian, or Regular, and everyone else itching to take their boredom out on the nearest sign of authority.
Photo: The Daily Telegraph
You can spot the Veteran by their glazed eyes and slouched posture. They're the ones counting the heads in front of them and calculating the time between each step--all the while wondering if they'll even play the game at all when they get home, or if they'd be better off installing the updates and resting up for that 9am video conference. Make no mistake, the Veteran is just as hardcore as anyone else in line. They're just usually the first to question whether waiting another 12-hours--like the rest of the world--was a smarter bet.
Whether it's out of sheer loyalty or the lack of anything better to do on a Monday night, the Tag-Along is a common sight at a midnight launch. Typically, they're the quieter members of the pack who can be found smiling politely while quietly planning their escape. There are the odd Tag-Alongs, however, who will adopt the role of Comedian and use their captive audience to remind everyone how charmingly out of touch they are with gaming culture and how sticking around to the bitter end with their mate means this guy totally owes me a foot massage when I get home. Odds are you know a Tag-Along. If so, hold them tight and never let go. They're keepers.
Photo: Digital Spy
The Reluctant Parent
Sometimes you'll find the Reluctant Parent in the line asking the Soldier how long the whole mess is going to take. Other times, however, the Reluctant Parent will watch from the comfort of their heated vehicle, occasionally cruising down the line to pick their offspring out from the crowd and yell something incredibly awkward and... "Holy crap, Dad, just shut up! I'll call you when I'm done!"
Photo: Digital Spy
You can spot the Cosplayer... well, you can spot the Cosplayer pretty damn easily. If their costume is really good, they'll be the ones posing for fan pictures and getting interviewed by the Condescending Reporter. If the outfit is bad, well, the Cosplayer will still look 100% more interesting than everyone else. Either way, if you're going to spend a night with complete strangers at (or outside) a vacant set of shops, you might as well have some fun doing it.
The Game Rep
It'd be nice to think that the Game Rep comes to midnight launches because they truly want to interact with fans who are probably Googling their names seconds before pretending to recognize them. In reality, it's more like they drew the short straw at a studio meeting. Regardless of the reasons, the Game Rep usually does an admirable job of looking excited and rewarding attendees with something special for their dedication. Now, enough small talk. Can you sign my hat, shirt, arm, strategy guide, dog bowl, magazine cover...
Photo: Digital Spy