Me and Trevor are playing something that’s already come out. But our minds are elsewhere.
“Are you excited?” I ask while we’re playing something else.
“I’m excited about being excited.”
“But you’re not actually excited?”
“No,” he says. We like to think we’re jaded. “No, not yet.”
It’s less than a week away. Five days, to be precise. Maybe less, if we go to one of those midnight sales I’m pretty sure they’ll have for a game this big. This is the biggest thing since Doom 3. Or maybe, the Burning Crusades expansion for World of Warcraft. No, wait, the Nintendo Wii was bigger. Come to think of it, the Playstation 3 was really big before, you know, it actually came out. It’s hard to think back to that time. I guess the most recent one we were totally psyched for was Halo 3. Actually, this one might be bigger than all those. With this game, it’s hard to have perspective.
“When will you get excited?”
“Soon. Maybe in a few days. Right now, I’m looking forward to it. Maybe in a few days, I’ll be excited. Probably the day before it comes out, I’ll be psyched. That night, and waiting to pick it up that day, I’ll be totally psyched. Driving it home will be almost unbearable. That’s how it works for me: looking forward to it, excited, psyched, totally psyched, unbearable, then – bam! – Quake Wars!”
“Yeah, I guess I’m the same way. The totally psyched part is great. The unbearable part is just about traffic getting the fuck out of your way.”
“And waiting for it to install.”
“Yeah, the totally psyched part is better than the unbearable part,” he agrees. “It’s probably better than the actual game is going to be.”
“Yeah. Wait, what? Really?”
“Well, okay, not really,” he tells us. He pretends to be thoroughly interested in the game we’re playing. The one that’s already come out. “But still, Quake Wars might not be as good as we’re hoping.”
“Quake Wars? Come on. If ever there was a sure thing.”
“There are no guarantees. I mean, it’s not like I’m some hardcore Quake fan. I’m still excited. I mean, I loved the demo and all. But still…”
“It’s Quake Wars! Don’t you want to know what happens? There’s a story. The earth gets invaded.”
“Wait, I thought the earth was already invaded. Didn’t that happen in Quake 4? And now it’s, like, the retaliation?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really remember that stuff. I guess this isn’t the kind of game you play for the story.”
“Good point. The gunplay’s the thing.”
“The multiplayer’s the thing.”
“The Hammer Launcher’s the thing.”
The waiting’s the thing. The waiting, unsullied by anything actual, is the easiest part. As a kid, it was Christmas. Now, it’s game releases. The prospect of things yet unknown delighting us, mysterious things assigned their particular Tuesdays, which are sometimes Wednesdays. A Tuesday release isn’t always a Tuesday release. Me and Trevor have EB, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target on speed dial, and Tuesdays are all about the hunt.
“So you’re not actually excited?” I ask. We’re playing the game that’s already out, but thinking about Quake Wars.
“Okay, maybe I am. But I’m definitely not psyched yet. I have to pace myself. When the beta first came out, I was totally psyched for a while. Then I went back down to excited, then back down to looking forward to it. It helps when there’s another game like this to keep me busy.” He gestures at the game we’re playing, the one that’s actually out.
“Yeah, this helped a lot,” I agree regarding the game. “I almost didn’t even care about Quake Wars for a while. I was all like, ‘Who cares? I’m digging on this now. Get back to me later’. But still, Quake Wars. Come on, admit that you’re excited.”
He chews his lip. He plays for a moment. He shoots me a look. He takes a deep breath. “Yeah, I might already be at psyched. There simply isn’t anything like Quake Wars. This is big, isn’t it?”
“And we’re just biding our time with this. I mean, this game here is great, but it’s no Quake Wars.”
“No, it isn’t.”
We go look around online to find which stores will have midnight sales. We make plans to be free on Wednesday so we can play all night Tuesday. We read a few previews and click through some screenshots. And we didn’t even bother to pause the game we were playing, the one that’s already out.
Tom Chick has been writing about videogames for fifteen years. His work appears in Games for Windows Magazine, Yahoo, Gamespy, Sci-Fi, and Variety. He lives in Los Angeles. Shoot Club appears in this space every Thursday.