Fan Service: In The Midnight Hour

Is the midnight launch really as loser-ish as people say it is?

By Mel Turnquist. Posted 09/18/2012 10:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Mel Turnquist's Fan Service masthead column

Hey, boys and girls, and welcome back to yet another edition of Fan Service, where the best of fandom gets its props and the worst of fandom gets its knocks. After a quick break due to some real life writing that had to take priority, I’m back again, so for today’s edition I’m going to talk about one aspect of fandom that I have never experienced but have always found fascinating: the midnight launch. This is mostly an outsider’s perspective so it’s highly likely that something may be off, but feel free to tell me in the comments how wrong I am!

For the uninitiated, midnight launches are pretty much the video game equivalent of a midnight movie premiere. For those who can’t wait for daylight to get their long awaited game or console system, there’s an opportunity to appear at midnight to get what you want. This is in no way an insult since in a lot of cases it’s the only necessary way to obtain what is needed.¬†I’ve heard stories from friends about midnight launches and I’ve seen clips on TV and Youtube of midnight launch shenanigans, but never have I actually had the opportunity to experience one.

I guess the reason why I’m interested in this aspect of fandom is because this year may be the first time I ever get to experience a midnight launch– this time for Wii U. I was one of those folks who lucked out by securing a Wii U Deluxe for myself come November 18th. I’m sure most of the folks there will be fighting tooth and nail for whatever consoles are made immediately available… unless if they’re doing reserved copies only. Nevertheless, it will be fascinating to see what will happen. Of course, this also depends on whether GameStop will actually go ahead with this. I’m not sure if my dinky town is actually going to have one, but I’ll be sure to ask when I make my next payment towards Wii U. There were rumors that GameStop weren’t going to do one at all for Wii U, but this was back in August, so they may have changed their minds since then.

Reggie takes time out at Wii’s NYC launch for a spot of Wii Sports with the crowd.

But as I was reading up on midnight releases, the one thing I noticed the most was just how condescending people can be about these events, calling those who attend them a big bunch of losers. I’ll admit that I used to think so and I still sometimes believe that people who get up at 3am for Black Friday shopping is flat out ridiculous, but on the other hand, why should I judge? I know families who do Black Friday as a big traditional post-Thanksgiving thing. It’s something they have memories of and hold dear to their hearts. It’s a sentimental thing, and it’s the same with midnight launches. People have memories and fond sentiments for whatever it is that’s being released, and it’s not fair to pick on someone just because they like to get their consoles as early as humanly possible.

This is probably what I find the most interesting about the midnight launches– the sentimental value. When people look back at the video games that they hold dearly, usually the stories aren’t about how they beat Luigi’s Purple Coins in 2 minutes flat, clearing Boss Battles in Intense Difficulty, or even getting through that one level of Battletoads. Okay, sometimes it is, but the main heart of those stories often isn’t the achievement– it’s the story and the memories. It could be about staying up till 3am playing Goldeneye 007 on Slappers Only with your cousin and brother, rushing out to Game Stop first thing in the morning the day after your college graduation to buy Super Mario Galaxy 2 as a graduation present to yourself, scrounging up your birthday money to buy Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time which became the first game you ever really could call your own, or the first time you ever laid eyes on that opening title screen for Pokemon Blue. It’s these kind of memories and sentiments that stick with you.

There’s nothing quite like holding the real thing in your hands after months and months of waiting…

For some folks, they have sentimental memories of staying out late, standing around GameStop, talking to fellow fans, and waiting to get whatever game or console they’re seeking. This is the kind of thing I’d love to experience– the sense of community and belonging that these folks may not always experience on a daily basis, and the sheer anticipation for the moment the clock strikes midnight. There’s just something about it that really draws me to it. Of course, I know the moment the doors open, all hell will break loose, but I’d be more than happy to deal with that (just so long as nobody tries to pick a fight with me!). The last thing I want is someone to try to kick me in the shin and steal my Wii U the moment I paid for it. I may not be very tough, but if I’m provoked enough I will kick your ass.

Some people are probably a little too hardcore about this and are likely gunning to be the first person in line so they can be the first person in the area to get one. This is all well and good, but to be honest, I don’t get this appeal. So you’re the first person to get one in the store? That’s great but odds are you probably won’t be the first one in the world. Speaking of which, how would they measure that? There’s so much to factor in like time zone, clocks that may not be entirely synced, reserved copies… the list goes on. If you go by those factors, then the first Wii U owner in the world would likely be someone in Newfoundland. I don’t want to be the first. I wouldn’t mind being a solid third or fourth, of course, but it’s all about the memories and the act of obtaining of the game for me.

And so as the clock strikes midnight on November 18th, the Eighth Generation of consoles will dawn with the official release of Wii U. Nobody really knows what the new era will bring, but we’re all looking forward with eyes wide open, hearts a-fluttering, and in my case, asses a-freezing as I wait outside GameStop to get a new Wii U. Hopefully I won’t look like an absolute fool and be all alone.

One Response to “Fan Service: In The Midnight Hour”

  • 22 points
    Luke Brown says...

    I have often wanted to attend a midnight launch but, like you, I was always too embarrassed as I thought it was simply too geeky!!

    However, I totally agree with you. It is often the experience of and build up to the actual purchase of a game that stay with us, more so than the game itself. My fondest gaming memory is when my brother and I saved all of our xmas money together to get an N64. I can remember the total excitement of waiting to get home from an xmas trip and then literally running to the shop together. We got the console and Starfox 64 (with the rumble pack). GOOD TIMES!!

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