Joel Burtney doesn’t think of himself as a computer gamer “I use my home computer for e-mails and online banking. But whenever Blizzard Software releases a new title, I’ve got to be first in line to get it.” He told me from his tattered old sleeping bag positioned on the hard cold concrete just outside the door of a local computer games store in his home town of Kingston Ontario. “I could have bought a digital copy [of Starcraft 2], but waiting outside in a line for weeks is all part of the experience for me.”
The forty-three year old took time off from his job as a corporate auditor to wait in line for a computer game many are already calling one of the greatest ever created. It may sound like an odd move for someone whose hobbies don’t include playing computer games, but his hobby is the reason he’s here.
Joel is a masochist and spends most of his free time being beaten and humiliated by tall women at a local Sadomasochist club. His interest in StarCraft 2 (like all games from Blizzard Software) stems from the infamously frustrating experience of trying to play any of their newly released games online, on or around the day of their release. “For me, it’s even better than slowly running my scrotum over a cheese grater while Mistress Lefay delivers electric shocks to my earlobes. I’ve never had a contrast of ecstasy and pain like that anywhere else!”
StarCraft 2 is the highly anticipated follow up to Starcraft a hugely popular game released in 1998. The upcoming July release has masochists like Joel all over the world needlessly upgrading their computers in preparation for a day or two of blissful frustrating agony.
“Because their games are so highly anticipated and fun to play, trying to get one of them to actually work the day it’s released is perhaps the most excruciatingly painful experience in the world.” Bjorn Demulder 29 of Stockholm recently posted on his blog.
“And Starcraft 2 will deliver the best release day let-down yet!” he rejoiced to his readers. “You’ll actually need to sign onto Battle.net just to play the single player campaign. So when the servers are down (like they always are at first) you won’t even be able to play the game at all!”
While the notorious failure of Blizzard’s multiplayer platform Battle.net is the big draw for people like Joel and Bjorn there are some masochists hesitant to invest. Jack Gillard, 33 of Nambour Australia voiced his concerns to me over the phone “Occasionally by the time a new Blizzard game is released here Battle.net is kind of working okay. But hopefully the match making system still won’t. I reckon it’ll lie to me about the wait time, making me wait 20 minutes for an opponent.” He added “Then when I get one he’ll be 8 levels higher and I’ll get Zerg rushed right away. I can’t wait!”
When I asked Joel if he’ll play Starcraft 2 when it’s fixed his answered summed it up “No. When Blizzard finally gets their games to work they’re way too fun so I’ll find something else to make me want to slam my face against a concrete wall. I’ll probably just spend more time with my wife.”
Starcraft 2 hits the shelves on July 27th … but unless you’re a masochist you might want to wait till August to play it.