I could barely sleep last night. Laying in my bed, I thought about (of all things) my Google Calendar, and how for months now, the date of September 20th had been emblazoned with the title “GEARS OF WAR 3 RELEASE”. I remembered how I had even typed it all CAPITAL LETTERS, signifying a level of typographic excitation I almost never achieve, not even for special occasions like Christmas or National Fellatio Week.
|Fuck you, Fred Savage. Fuck. You.|
I don’t remember ever being this excited about an upcoming video game as a kid. This could be because I have an absolutely terrible emotional memory; perhaps I actually was this excited about every new release, but don’t remember because the 1990’s happened more than a week ago. One of the only cases I could recall was Super Mario Bros. 3. I remember relentlessly begging my mother for a copy, a tireless saga whose finale doubtlessly involved her slugging it out with other guilt-crazed parents in a K-Mart somewhere. I even dragged her to a showing of The Wizard just for a glimpse of the game. In the end, I finally got my copy of SMB3, and learned an important life lesson in the process: watching an autistic kid play video games for 90-minutes does not make for compelling cinema.
To be honest, I’m not even sure how (or even if) my friends and I found out about upcoming games back then. This was in the Dark Ages before the Internet, so unless we saw a television commercial or read about it in Nintendo Power magazine, we usually didn’t know about games until after they were already on the shelves. Our usual approach to gaming was to goad our parents into heading to Video World, our local “video rental store”. (For you youngsters out there who don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine Netflix were an actual physical store, except with VHS tapes and Nintendo games instead of DVDs and disgruntled customers complaining about price hikes.) Once there, we would descend into intense deliberations over which game we should get, based on esoteric criteria such as coolness of cover art, whether it came with a photocopied instruction manual, and whether they even had a copy available to rent. Then we would go to one of our houses, start playing the game, realize that it was Back to the Future and one of the worst NES games ever made, and go to bed disappointed. Good times.
Looking back, I realize that the difference between this approach and the current pre-order paradigm is like the difference between awkward teenage sex and that crazy tantric stuff that Sting is into. For months I’ve read the press releases, watched the gameplay trailers, and played the beta, and when I finally get home from work and open that lovely little package from Amazon, it’s going to be amazing. Don’t get me wrong… like any high-school sweetheart, I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Video World. However, I think both Sting and I prefer the status quo.
Merry Gearsmas everyone!
PS – I just remembered, Netflix doesn’t have DVDs anymore either. I guess now it’s just disgruntled customers.