The Wait for Halo Reach: a Gamer-Mom’s Perspective

Do you see this store? This is what it looked like at 6 AM when my son and I arrived for a stake-out. The reason? Operation Halo Reach, the Special Edition Game.  

I am not a gamer, but my fourteen-year old is a passionate one. He’s awaited this game’s arrival with singular enthusiasm, fretted it would sell-out before I could drop him at his school and return to the Best Buy to line up. This weekend he made an impassioned but rational plea about all the reasons he should play hooky to secure a spot. And though I’m a third-generation educator and my grandmother would be rolling in her grave, I agreed. See, this kid wants to design video games for a living, and that vision is one of the reasons he tolerates school.  

Halo: Reach

Image via Wikipedia


Also, in exchange for my complicity, I’ve extracted commitments I wouldn’t have otherwise. I think it’s fair to say I now own his soul. 😀  

Anyway, this morning he put on his parka, packed up the camping chair, and grabbed a backpack of books for the Big Ordeal. And this is what the store looked like at 9:40, twenty minutes before it opened:  


I know, huh? No drama. From the warmth and comfort of our minivan, he grew ever more glum.  

I think he thought I’d be annoyed with him for hauling me out of bed so early. (Wrong, because it’s impossible not to perceive it as an adventure. I’d had fun. Also, while he waited, I’d gone to the local Starbucks and written a ton of words, so what’s not to like in that?)  

I think he’d envisioned the opportunity to chat with his peers. Alas, when they arrived, they were all men in their mid-twenties and up. With the exception of one kind man, there on behalf of his son, they ignored him in a silence I now think of as foreshadowing.   

I say that because I have a few thoughts about humanity, at present: Not impressed people. NOT.  

A kid — a tender kid — first in line. He waited for four hours. He’s anticipated this for weeks. Yet somehow you feel it’s right and okay to push past him the second the door opens for a freaking game? I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it.  

In the end, though, Frank got his game and an education about mob mentality. And me? I got the memory of a lifetime and my son’s gratitude.  

As for the pushy people, I have something to say to them: “Honey, you might feel like you’ve got something in your pants right now because you got your precious Halo, but sorry. You sure ain’t got the wings.”  

How about you? Have you ever stood in line for hours only to be usurped by those who are bigger, stronger, and possess a sense of entitlement? Have any strategies to share with a newbie to this world? 



20 thoughts on “The Wait for Halo Reach: a Gamer-Mom’s Perspective

  1. What a great mom! You created a memory for TWO lifetimes – yours and Frank’s. But jeeze, Best Buy should have mastered mob management by now. Hand out numbers, people!

    Dave used to go to the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee daycare center in the dead of night just to be able to nab a two-mornings-a-week spot for our kids. The waiting parents were civilized and organized, assigning unofficial numbers that everyone respected.

    On the other hand, back in college, we went to Chicago to see the Pope say Mass in Grant Park. When it came time for communion, hordes of little old ladies fiercely elbowed their way to the front of the line to make sure they got hosts consecrated by His Holiness. We laughed; it was part of the adventure.

    Again, good for you, Jan. And glad to hear about those words making it to the page!

  2. Never buy a game on release day, or if you want it that badly, reserve a copy. Also, the game I’m looking forward too is Fallout: New Vegas. It’s rated M due to the nature of the game world (grim post-apocalyptic/alternate 50’s futuristic) with undertones of sex and violence that go beyond shooting aliens. Then again, I’m not a 15 year old nor would I recommend a kid that age to get the game.

    But the story telling is great, as are the visuals/atmospherics. Games have come a long way from gobbling dots or shooting descending pixilated alien invaders.

    As a writer I would recommend Mass Effect (again rated M for one sexually suggestive themed scene). It is a third person shooter (camera is “over the shoulder”) but the story telling…fantastic.

  3. MJ, LOL about the little old ladies. Their elbows are sharp! And yes, Best Buy could have handled it better. According to someone I know who works there, they anticipated a significant turnout, but aside from having a lot of counter staff, they were not organized. I gather a free t-shirt comes with the limited edition game, and half the people who butted in front of us left without receiving one. Oh, karma, sometimes I love you. 😉

    ralfast, we did reserve a copy. Alas, they had no idea what to do with the slip. LOL, we’re having issues. I’ve seen the original Fallout, and it is grim, but I haven’t heard of Mass Effect. Thank you for the heads-up. Frank is partial to shooting games, so I’ll pass the information on to him.

  4. Bigger, stronger, more entitled…sort of describes my classmates in elementary school. I was a year younger, a bit smaller and physically slower; last to be picked but first to be picked on. Most of that dissipates around high school and once you get into grown-up life but not all of it. It can be a shock when it’s the first time you experience it, though. The bullies are still out there.

  5. Jan, as a player of World of Warcraft (or WoW) and having a husband that’s is absolutely obsessed with it, I have to say that if you reserve a copy, but at a smaller store like EB Games, they know what they are doing. Plus you will get a line up and halkf the time there is a midnight release just for the people with the reserved copies. I’ve played for about 5 years now (oh the wasted time.. but it’s fun!) and we’ve been through 2 expansions with pre-buy midnight releases. Hubby willingly goes and lines up, but everyone is friendly and chats. And it’s funny because you almost never meet someone else that plays on the same server as yourself, but you all have the game in common.

    Anyways, hope the next wait in line for a game is filled with happy chatty people!

  6. Shanna, thank you! We live close to the Best Buy and my vision has grown limited to think of them alone. *head-desk* I never even thought of EB games. Will pass the information along to Frank and go this route for the next time he needs an adventure.

  7. My son is 31 and so . . . but, I do remember a certain Robot Toy my son talked about and I was going to get it for Christmas – oh, they weren’t anywhere! I’d waited too late – it was like Arnold Swartzenegger’s movie where he’s looking for that “doll” – finally, I find one and a month later, they were recalled because they had lead or something *SIGGHHHH* by then, he wasn’t even interested anymore – huhn….learned my lesson *laugh*

  8. Unfortunately, *those* types of people are ever more frequently with us these days.

    Just an FYI, but you can also pre-order through Amazon and they will deliver them to your house on release day. I order all my DVDs that way and they do games, too.

    And as an adventure for Mom? You never know where that will take you. I used to have to stay up on the latest games for my son. When the editor of the local magazine found out that I knew games, I became the proud writer of a monthly video game column! Life is funny that way, huh? I hope Frank enjoys his game!

  9. Kat, that’s the universe’s foul sense of humor at work, isn’t it? And BTW, you do NOT look like someone old enough to have a 31-year old.

    Glinda, you are right! I checked Amazon and they had the edition he wanted. I’ll definitely keep that in mind for the future, although the experience itself was worthwhile. And how neat about your column. 🙂 Are you still doing that?

    1. No, the magazine went defunct when it tried to change to an online format. 🙁 But it was a great experience for me. My point was that we never know what might lead to an opportunity! 🙂

  10. Don’t worry, your not alone in the cool moms department. Ya it was cool for you to wake up in the morning and get the game. But my mom took me and my friends at midnight the day before. We got there at 10:00 and waited 2 hours for the midnight launch. it was so fun! One guy dressed up.

  11. Absolutely love this article and I believe I know your son’s doppelganger. I have a 14 yo son who LOVES Halo, had to have Reach and it was coming out right around his birthday (hello, Legendary edition). When his Xbox died last week while we were snowed in (in South Carolina this is not normal, at all), he was heartbroken. I marched into Best Buy with him on Saturday morning, the replacement policy and a lot of impressive words (Tweeted Xbox support, checked the hard drive, cleared the cache…). When I was done I walked out with a brand new Xbox and a grinning, appreciative teenager. He’s a good kid who does well in school, behaves well, so if this is what he enjoys, I will be right there for him. Good for us – our kids will remember this stuff – hopefully while we can still remember them, too!

  12. colt, as I learned, I’m not the only mom to do this with her kid. You sound like you had a great time! Hope the game was everything you wanted.

    Evelyn, how funny! Our kids really do sound alike. You know, I wrote this post a while back, so it’s neat to have it resurrected and recall his gratitude at the time. Since I’ve forced him to attend an overnight band camp, his ardor has cooled at tad, LOL. I bet you’ve earned your heroine status for a while, though. Congrats!

    Kelly, aw, thank you! I’m still laughing a bit about how many parents agree that there are good reasons to play hooky. My ‘rents would be shocked, LOL.

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