The evening of November 12, 2008, was cold, wet, and dreary, and it
truly set the mood for one of the biggest launches in computer game
history. There I was, standing in line at my local Gamestop in
Evansville, Indiana, and I couldn’t have been happier. After
moving to Evansville only a few months prior, it was heartening to hear
and listen to the many stories that were being passed around by the
other WoW players.

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employees watch the door.

Approximately 100 other gamers, all of them eager to
grab their copy of target="_blank">World
of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
, were
waiting in the queue with me, waiting for the employees at Gamestop to
open their doors and give us our first opportunity to see the final
version of Blizzard’s new content. Although it was nowhere
near the size of the href="" target="_blank">New
York City event, it was still impressive to see a hundred
gamers from a city of 350,000 citizens converge on one store to insure
that they received a copy of a video game. Even with the regular
drizzle that pissed on our heads, all of the gamers were in high

To be honest, the night felt like just the first of hundreds of quests
players will participate in while journeying through the new realm of
Northrend. With the chill night air adding atmosphere to the event,
players were locked in, and they could see that golden
“?” only a few dozen yards away. Strangely, no one
seemed to mind, even the few folks that had been waiting for hours by
the Gamestop doorway. According to these patient individuals,
they’d been waiting at the door since 8:30 and still seemed
ready to hold out a few more hours on top of that. “I just
want the game,” the first guy in line said. “I
don’t care about the Collector’s Edition, I just
want to play.”

Indeed, most of the gamers that I saw leaving the store that night were
merely carrying the standard WotLK boxes. Although the contents of the
Collector’s Edition were tempting to some, the majority of
the gamers simply couldn’t see the point in spending a few
extra dollars for features they might not use.
“It’s a pretty box,” one woman said.
“I’m not here to get a pretty box.”

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A pair of
happy Collector's Edition buyers.

Yet those that did buy the Collector’s Edition were more than
happy with their purchase, and many of them were gamers cut from a more
“old school” cloth. The two individuals pictured in
the photo to the right were discussing corpse runs back in the old days
of target="_blank">EverQuest. “There
weren’t any arrows pointing
you in the right direction, or graveyards to give you a quick
resurrection,” one individual said. “You just had
to go out and find it.” Even though I also played my fair
share of EQ, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the idea of
today’s gamer trying to find a corpse without help. The
community support staff at the developer would be swamped within

Eventually, as the line began to move, I had to settle into a space at
the end of the line. Since I was one of the few people in the store
that hadn’t pre-ordered, I was relegated to the back. Whoever
claims the life of a journalist is akin to a rockstar’s is
dead wrong. Luckily, the folks at the end of the line were cheerful,
and a bit of playful banter broke out regarding the Horde vs. Alliance
competition. “I’m going to ‘demoralizing
shout’ you!” one Horde fan spat. “Then
I’ll feign death so I won’t feel so bad when you
kick me.”

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The line for
Wrath of the Lich King was enormous.

As geeky as it may sound, we laughed for a long, long time. Murloc
sounds were then imitated, and comparisons between href="" target="_blank">Age
of Conan,
, and target="_blank">WAR also came up.

But the night wasn’t without its own set of trials and
tribulations. Although most of the individuals in line had fully paid
for their pre-order, meaning they could just walk in and grab the game,
the unlucky few – myself included – that
hadn’t paid were met with the dilemma of a credit card
machine that wouldn’t submit data. That meant quick runs to
the ATM for a number of us, and several disgruntled individuals who had
waited in line for hours only to be turned away by the technology that
brought them there in the first place.

At around 12:45 Central Standard Time, the teller at my local Gamestop
handed me a fresh copy of Wrath of the Lich King, took my money and
wished me a good night. It’s been a long time since I felt
the rush of buying a video game, but I felt it that night. The Burning
Crusade is dead. Long live the Wrath of the Lich King.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016