Some video games are so hotly anticipated that stores will open at midnight to satisfy the thronging masses. Sure, you could wait and get the game the next day during regular business hours, when you’re fully awake, but not only do you want the game NOW, but missing out on midnight releases means missing out on all the excitement and pageantry of a late night, outside, with fellow gamers. Without further ado, here’s a timeline of the highs and lows of a waiting in line for any video game.

11 PM: Every store that has midnight game releases gives out different incentives for getting the game at their store, from T-shirts to downloadable content, so recheck your options one final time before deciding on Best Buy.

11:15 PM: Pick out some appropriately obscure and referential video game clothing to wear, as it’ll be one of few places that such gear will be appreciated. Add a hoodie, and then a coat on top of it. It’s cold out!

11:35 PM: Arrive at Best Buy to see that a line of approximately 45 people has already formed outside the store, which will remain closed until midnight exactly. Debate with your crew about whether you should try another store, and ultimately decide to join the line. Spirits are high. High-fives are exchanged.

11:40 PM: Feel slightly superior to the people who arrive after you. Take joy in the crestfallen looks on their faces as they notice how long the line is. Pat yourself on the back for the hoodie/coat combination.

11:43 PM: Count the number of girls in line. Including you, there are three. Nod to the other two in solidarity.

11:45 PM: Get into a spirited discussion about how ridiculous it is that every store offers different incentives, which means you can’t get them all unless you buy four or five copies of the game. Decide that all of the stores suck.

11:47 PM: Spotted! The same Super Mario/Gears of War mashup T-shirt on two different people! Yahtzee!

11:50 PM: Some guys prowl the line with surveys about gaming habits in exchange for sodas and snacks. They are cheesy and use phrases like “What’s up, gamers?” They are ignored.

11:52 PM: “Are the doors opening yet? No? It looks like they totally are. There are definitely employees by the door.”

11:54 PM: Get into a discussion about Community with the group in front of you, and notice that a guy who came by himself has glommed onto your group. Exchange glances with your friends, silently calculating whether he’s a creep, decide that he’s harmless and just looking for someone to hang out with in line. High-five him and compliment his Zelda tattoo. New friends!

11:57 PM: Discussion amongst strangers of what video games we’re playing now, and why we’re excited for the game we’re in line for, a discussion that is cut off by THE DOORS FINALLY OPENING!

11:59 PM: “Oh my goodness, is that a Best Buy employee dressed as a character from the game? That is unflattering.”

12:03 AM: The first person in line exits the store, game in hand. Clap for him (it’s almost definitely a him; see 11:43 above). He takes a bow and then sprints to his car.

12:12 AM: Waiting fatigue sets in. The line is moving, but not fast enough, and the people leaving the store before you suddenly all seem like jerks.

12:15 AM: Gasps are heard as someone leaves the store with the super deluxe edition of the game, a $300 bundle that includes action figures of the characters, art books, and a special controller. Applaud him, and then make a joke that you will rob him before he makes it to his car. Morale improves.

12:23 AM: Get close enough to the store to be able to see inside, and see that it looks like well-organized chaos. Barriers keep shoppers from going any further than 15 feet into the store, and there are stacks and stacks of games that are being handed out as quickly as possible.

12:27 AM: Note that the holdup seems to be coming from customers being indecisive about picking between two unannounced prizes: a foam weapon from the game or a hat with the name of the game on it. Start hotly debating this surprise decision with friends, old and new.

12:36 AM: Step your first foot inside the store and get giddy. Enjoy the warmth.

12:44 AM: Reach the counter and decide against jokingly asking if you can buy a printer. Decide on the foam weapon.

12:50 AM: Exit the store, game in one hand, foam-fighting with the other. Congratulations! Say goodnight to your crew as everyone goes home to play.

1:20 AM: Put the game in your console and say goodbye to sleep. ♦