I’ll admit that I was a little envious of those people who were out for the Xbox One X launch events, or were at midnight launches, eager to get their hands on the new goodness… but only a little.
It seems I am now, apparently, what they call “a responsible adult” which means that things like the mortgage, heating bills, clothing and food bills take precedence over a £449 console and a 4K TV.
Sometimes being an adult sucks.
However… it was not always the case.
Almost four years ago the original Xbox One launched to a totally mixed reception, and with my finances in a totally different state (no mortgage for a start) at the time I was in a position to buy my first ever launch day console.
Now fair warning here… the following does contain some stereotypes, but the thing with stereotypes is that they tend to be real… the stereotypical PC or console gamer is out there, they exist… the basement dweller PC user with no life exists, the screaming 12 year old throwing a tantrum exists… the over-weight, neck beard, fedora wearing nerd exists… and their natural habitat is the midnight launch.
My (long suffering) better half had accepted that I was about to pay £429 for a games console, she had accepted that I had taken the day off to collect the console rather than go to work and ruin the mood… she was unaware that I had other plans.
Through total coincidence the evening before we would be in town, not exactly the centre of town by any means, but comfortable walking distance from the store where I had pre-ordered… we had tickets for a comedy gig that would end around 10pm and we’d have to walk most of the way to the centre to catch the bus home… so, I casually mentioned one evening, we could, you know, sort of… go to the midnight console launch.
That she didn’t slap me or respond with a four letter word that rhymes with “truck” is just one of the reasons why we’ve now spent close to 22 years together.
Bribed with a coffee and a Big Mac along the way we turned up around 11.15pm and observed a weird sub-culture of video gaming and it’s participants… it was an eye opener for sure.
Now I’ve been around long enough to know that those who were present are in any way representative of all video gamers… but they do tend to be the sort that are front and centre on TV coverage of midnight console launches, or in the paper when they decide to cover a launch event because local papers are grateful for anything to report on that isn’t a cat stuck up a tree, or a suspicious looking dog having been seen near the park… when non gamers look at media coverage of consoles they get the social inept thrust in their faces without fail.
We step into the store… who had, in fairness, done a sterling job of the whole affair… you were allowed, even encouraged, to pay earlier in the week to speed up the process, once you paid you were given a numbered ticket and all you needed to do was turn up with the ticket on the night and you’d be good to go… this allowed people to trade in anything they wanted in advance rather than having 100+ people turning up with bags of games or old consoles on the night… my number was somewhere in the low 50’s.
It soon became very, very clear that I was the oldest person in the building… possibly the only one there who had ever spoken to a women… and, having breathed in a couple of times, clearly one of only a few people who knew what deodorant was.
It was not a pleasant place to be at times, depending on who you found near you… my other half had to leave a couple of times to get some fresh air… it was, honestly, horrific… until you worked out who not to go anywhere near and we started to pray to any (or all) non-existent deities that there people did not have a numbered ticket anywhere near me.
The staff were great, a couple were walking among us allowing people to get a feel of the new controller, answering any questions we might have had, letting us know that any games we wanted were being reduced by 20% for launch day and pointing us in the direction of the cards you could buy which would give you a code for any of the downloadable titles.
Time ticked on… someone walked in the store who was actually older than me… but this was ruined when they said they were buying the console for their daughter… more neckbeards arrived… one couldn’t tell enough people that he’d pre-ordered the £250 edition of Titanfall to get the huge model titan… well… it’s not like he’d be spending the money on soap, razor blades or shampoo.
As time moved relentlessly on (it has a habit of doing this) the staff started to heard us towards forming a queue based on our ticket numbers… and here was a measure of how well they’d planned this…
This particular GAME store is small, and the storage space is above the main store… every person who had prepaid had their own bag, dependant on what games (if any) you’d ordered with it they were packed in the bag, so as each gamer was called forward with their ticket a bag would appear from the door to the storage area with their ticket number on it… my bag contained just the basic console, prepacked with FIFA 15 and I was out the door inside 10 minutes… taxi home.
The unboxing and setup took a little longer than normal, I’ve a friend in Mexico who was very keen to see the unboxing (even though he’s a massive Sony fanboy) and as each part was taken out the box a picture was Whattsapp’d to him… including the obligatory pic of my shiny new Kinect unit first coming out of the box and then going into the bin… mandatory console update done, gamertag transferred over and code used to get the “Day One” achievement.
And then my tight fisted nature came home to roost.
My usual online retailer tends to despatch games early to guarantee release day delivery, usually this means they tend to arrive early… my bog standard edition of Forza Motorsport 7 landed on the Saturday before the Tuesday release for example… but here the one game I had ordered had not arrived… I was left with a shiny new console and no games to play.
Not even the FIFA 15 pack in title as I’d already sold this on Ebay as I haven’t touched a FIFA title since 2002 and had no desire to start again now… at least I had time to explore the menus, transfer my Gamertag and set up the colour scheme for Achievements and notifications.
It wasn’t the best experience I’d ever had… but it was something I could cross off my bucket list… I’d been there at the launch of a new console generation and reaffirmed just why I try and avoid game shops as much as possible… not all gamers are socially inept, unwashed, unshaven, basement dwellers that TV news reports would have us believe… but go to a midnight launch of any game or console and you’ll know for definite that they exist.
Based in the heart of the United Kingdom and old enough to remember when “old school” was just “school”. Multi-console owner who has never understood why some people feel the need to defend one console just because of the name on the box. Former IGN moderator (but much better now thanks) who has come out of that with a much improved outlook on video games. Can be found on Xbox Live or PSN under the name TTDog666