Gamers. An underground species of few number. Typically males, with unwashed hair. People who spend their lives sat in front of a TV, entering unknown virtual worlds, saving the day and defeating the bad guys. They don’t need a social life, nor do they require someone to have a ‘relationship’ with. They venture outside purely to purchase more games, before venturing back home.

That paragraph, of course, is complete rubbish. A statement reserved for the school playgrounds of yesteryear. The image below possibly gives a bolder statement of gamers today:

That image was shot in the small town of Crewe during the evening of Monday 7th November 2011. The occasion? The midnight release of one of the most anticipated iterations of the first-person shooter genre ever, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.

I think its pretty apparent even just by that shot, that more and more people are engaging in videogames as a hobby, or even as part of a social routine. So is it now cool to play games?

The point with games at the moment is that you don’t have to be ‘cool‘ or really ‘geeky‘ to enjoy them. Games have never been as accessible as they are nowadays. They are everywhere…your phones, your TVs, even popular social networking sites are crammed full of them. Ranging from simple platformers, running your own basic farm, a browser based first-person shooter…the list is endless. And the beauty of it all is that many of them are very user friendly, meaning that even people who have no idea how to operate an Xbox can sit down and enjoy a game. To those people, perhaps they do now consider themselves cool while matching coloured gems to complete the next challenge?

Going back to the image from the midnight launch, you’re not going to find many Farmville or Bejeweled fans amongst the crowds of people, but even still from my experience you don’t just get the everyday gamer collecting a copy, you’d also find folk who don’t play games very often..of whom just like the odd 30 minute a week on games waiting for a copy. Why do people go to such lengths to buy a videogame?

From conversations I’ve had with customers during the past few years, the main draw is being involved in an ‘event’. Turning up at midnight to queue and pick up a game turns a regular purchase into something more. It’s an occasion..something to tell your friends…a sign of dedication to a product you haven’t played yet. You’ll find most people who buy a game at that time of night don’t even get to play it until the following evening, with probably only a handful of people willing to start the game up as soon as they get home. They just wanted to be there to buy the game they’ve been waiting ‘X’ amount of time for.

And lets not forget, its not just your Call of Duty fans that want to brave the dark evenings. More and more people are approaching me and asking if we’re holding midnight launches for a variety of other games, such as the recently released Elder Scrolls Skyrim and the upcoming Assassins Creed. While CoD has proved to be the biggest launch of this year, other midnight launches have also been successful (Gears 3 seeing a large number of stores opening).

Joining in on the experience of a midnight launch is just that…an experience. Some publishers even go that extra mile to promote a launch…I mean…just check out the lengths Activision went to this year…

The important point I want to reach in this post is that the old opinion on geeks has passed. Your mum could be a geek, or your sister…hell…even old Frank down the road may enjoy a round on Battlefield. And more importantly, whoever they are…they want to engage in the hobby, even if it means leaving their house at a silly hour, to queue inside a store to purchase a game.

Do you enjoy attending midnight launches? Or do you think people are sad for doing so? Let us know by commenting below!

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