Midnight disease: Gaming culture at its finest

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

There were two girls at the party – if you could call it a party.

Video game junkies, myself included, began filing into a Gamestop in Sandy at about 9:30 in the post-meridian. We began milling about the store, waiting for midnight release of Dead Space 2, a third-person shooter with a horror twist. I paid off what was left from when I had pre-ordered the game months ago, got my receipt and began to wait.

There really were two girls there. It’s strange, but true. One lucky lady was a Gamestop employee. In a store that caters primarily to pallid, awkward boys who never leave their basements, it’s like blood in shark-infested waters.  It’s nice that girls and games are becoming less antonymous terms; however, it gets really aggravating when you want to buy something and you can’t get to the register because of the crowd or nerds trying to hit on the poor girl behind the counter. As the night progressed, it got harder for people to pay for their games.

Eventually more people started wandering in and preparing to pick up their copies of Dead Space 2. After they paid, they all stood around the store unsure of what to really do. Eventually we ended up in a group talking about games, what we most enjoyed about the original Dead Space and what games we needed to play in the future.

11:45 approached. We all began to show small signs of fatigue. The chit-chat had died down a bit as the interim had gotten the better of us. We were walked outside the store so the employees could get all the games out and ready to hand out to us. Just ten minutes left now. We stood outside in the cold at 11:50 on a Monday night. Some of us were going to school the next morning. Some of us had work. The midnight hour couldn’t come fast enough.

And it did, as we grabbed our copies and triumphantly left the store heading to our cars, maybe to go home and sleep, maybe to stay up all night playing a newly received treasure. No one said goodbye. It’s not in the vaguely autistic nature of the gamer. “See you online.” That’s all that needed to be said.

These nights are a celebration of everything it is to be a nerd – someone who will forgo sleep and warmth for something they enjoy. All fifteen of us stood around, rejoicing in what we all held nearest and dearest – a new video game. It wasn’t a big crowd, but it really showed the full spectrum of vagabonds who wander within this strange culture.

All the stereotypes were there. There were the kids who definitely didn’t look old enough for an M-rated game. There were guys who have deceived the rest of the world but, in their heart of hearts, are as socially arrested as Boo Radley. There were the guys who are the textbook definition of “nerd.” Then there was me, a guy who floats in the middle of the stereotypes, a huge fan of games, but not that huge of a fan.

Midnight game releases have always been the best time for the diverse strains of geek to mix and mingle, like very non-threatening lions mixing with slouching, mumbling tigers.

Games are a great unifier. So if you like video games, even just a little bit, a midnight release might be the social event of the season! In the post-arcade era, it’s one of the few ways to meet people who share your hobby, talk to them and learn more about games from someone else’s perspective. We share a weird midnight disease, a mix of insomnia and monomania that lends itself well to spilling blood on the screen and not much else. It’s nice to spend just one night partying with people who are afflicted like you.

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