Midnight ass: Why Ben Wilson will never attend another 12am gaming launch

Ask me to make a list of the people I most admire for their achievements in 2012, and Zohaib Ali would be close to the top. (Right next to the production crew on The Voice, for somehow managing to avoid locking Jessie J in a cupboard and ‘accidentally’ losing the key.)

Who is Zohaib Ali? Why, he’s the gentleman who spent three days queuing for PS Vita’s midnight launch back in February – making him the first person in the nation to own Sony’s sexy new handheld.

Why do I find this particular show of devotion so admirable? Because I, too, once queued for a midnight launch, and it panned out very differently. It was a Thursday in the summer of ‘99, and the object of my affections was PS1 game WWF Attitude. Despite being all of 19 years old, I shamelessly guilted my mum into dropping me off at Sutton High Street at 9pm, and the wait began.

Biggest mistake: I took with me absolutely diddly squat. Fearing a queue of gamers attracting the town’s blaggards and scoundrels, I decided to play it safe and only carry my pre-order receipt and 50 quid to pay for the game. No brick-sized mobile. No magazines. Nothing.

I stood still for three hours until the store opened, then occasionally shuffled forwards (but mainly stood still) for another 90 minutes until – yes! – I finally owned the hottest wresting game around. Practically skipping to the nearest phonebox I called mother, who duly raced out to chauffeur me home. Finally, at 2.20am, I shoved disc into machine and got playing. For a grand total of two matches.

That was all it took to discover that each wrestler had three alternate outfits, accessed by holding L1, L2 or R2 while pressing X on the character select screen. As an editing junkie, this was sensational news! So instead of actually playing the game I’d queued for 270 minutes to buy, I spent the next two hours… starting matches, writing down what each wrestler was wearing (you couldn’t actually view the outfits on the character select screen), quitting out, and then going through the whole process again.

By 4.20am I had a perfect list of every character’s alternate costumes across two sides of notepad paper. By 4.25am, I was out for the count.

And boy did I sleep. Knackered beyond belief, I kipped for an eternity, waking after midday to reflect on exactly what I’d achieved: seven-and-a-quarter hours devoted to a videogame that I actually played for all of about eight minutes.

A handwritten list of wrestler costumes that,I quickly realised, would be available on the internet in days – if it wasn’t already. And an equally shattered mother who, without complaint, had ferried her eldest son around in the early hours of the morning in order for him to buy a videogame he could just as easily have got on a bus to collect the next day.

It was enough to convince me that I’d never repeat this farce, and in the 13 years since I’ve stuck adamantly to that promise. So while I admire Zohaib Ali for his dedication, there’s no way in the world you’ll find me queuing outside my local Gamestation for Black Ops II come November. Particularly as I now live in Bath, and it’d mean at least a four-hour round trip for mother to drop me home afterwards…

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