Heroes of the Storm ANZ Launch: Prelude
It is three hours before the launch,
and I am in a hostel room that isn’t mine.
We had spent eight hours seemingly doing nothing but walk around Sydney. Our feet hurt, and we are flopped like sloths around the room.
I had been awake since 4am.
I had crossed state lines, and I am satisfactorily exhausted.
The news is on TV — the news I would usually work on at my job — and I watch it with narrowed eyes, like I’m seeing it for the first time. I am scrutinising and picking out errors, errors that wouldn’t happen if I was at work.
But I am not at work.
I am here.
We talk, I think, about how I’m going to write about the event.
“I will ask the most important question,” I say.
I clear my throat.
“Do you heed the call of the nexus? Because, if not, we can not be friends.”
A girl is in the room, a girl I had only met that day, and she plays another popular MOBA, you see. “I do,” she answers, “I do heed the call of a nexus.”
The only mirror in the room is mounted on the back of the door into the room, and I lazily get on my knees to look into it. I reach into my leopard-print backpack, retrieve my make-up bag, and start reapplying eyeshadow.
I look like shit.
In the week prior to this event, two things had happened that had made me feel like a husk of a human being. I was lost, confused, empty, and sad. I had even debated whether I should come to Sydney at all for this event — I was worried I would just get drunk and cry a bit, which isn’t a good look at the best of times.
Alas, in front of the mirror I kneeled, far away from home. I had brought my favourite lipstick. It’s red, the MAC signature colour of Rhianna. I put on red lipstick only when I feel like I need strength, protection and courage, or when I’m tired and sad.
I get that this is maybe not a normal use of make-up, but it is what it is.
Red lipstick is my human suit.
It’s important to pretend to be a human.
As I carefully press the lipstick across my lips, I tell my friend Steve that Arthas is a top-tier tank hero, although I’m not entirely sure about that this patch. I haven’t really checked.
I am in a pub next to the venue and it’s an hour before the event starts. They’re selling $5 whiskies, but there’s a $10 minimum on using a card to pay. I ask the bartender of I can just drink one now and pick the second one up from him later. He looks confused but agrees anyway,
It’s ended up being mostly people I don’t know at this pub, which is weird. But PiG is here, fresh off the plane from his analysis duties from WCS in Europe. He is always the same — he smiles all the time, is very friendly, and I like him. We always greet each other like bogans, and that familiarity makes me happy.
Steve and his mates leave fairly quickly to go play pool, and I find some friends and polish off my second whiskey.
It’s starting to feel normal here.
It’s starting to feel familiar.
At 6:30, I head down to the pool hall, find Steve and his friends, flop myself on a chair and declare that I want Steve to fight me. He says something like “My hands are in my pockets and you’re lucky they’re not coming out,” which makes me laugh maybe harder than I should.
We had heard the doors opened at 6:30, but they weren’t open. We are standing in line on a tall, long, wide staircase, corralled to the side like excited nerd cattle. I watch the end of the line snake down the stairs and around the corner until I couldn’t see it anymore.
There were cosplayers — amazing cosplayers, a Jaina and a Nova. To me, they looked perfect. They went slowly down the stairs, stopping for pictures with people.
I hate lines.
I would rather do anything than be in a line,
but this is OK.
We are finally let in and I have to get a wristband because I’m on The List. Marie, who’s a mate who works at Blizzard locally, is giving them out in a separate line. She acts like she doesn’t know me and I faux pout.
I see PJ, another local Blizzard mate, by the snack bar. He hugs me and seems nervous. I tell him everything looks amazing, because it does — there are pictures and monitors with Heroes gameplay and cosplayers and people everywhere, all bathed in perfect Heroes blue light.
Something is starting to build inside me, like a foundation being laid.
I’m starting to feel human again, instead of pretending to be one.
I go into the cinema and two groups of friends are sitting in different places, and none of them have a place for me. I shrug and hunt down a Kerrigan Funko.
Kerrigan is bae, and I needed a Kerrigan.
My Melbourne contingent of friends make a space for me in the middle of the group, and I swap the Diablo Funko there for the empty space I’d left by stealing Kerrigan.
I realise beer is being served, and I quickly duck back to the snack bar for two — I knew the presentation would be longer than the length of one beer, and I wanted to be prepared so I wouldn’t have to leave.
I see the Jaina cosplayer on the way back.
“You looks so beautiful,” I tell her, a beer in each hand.
She says thank you and seems genuinely happy.
“I like your cardigan, “ she says.
It’s black with sparrows on each shoulder.
“Thank you,” I tell her, “But you are gorgeous.”
“Not as comfortable as you, though,” she answers,
and she is more beautiful by the second.
I stammer, gesture with my two beers, and shuffle back to my seat.
I’m settled snugly between two good friends, Infeza and Rez, and I obnoxiously nudge Rez force him to make room for my second beer on the arm rest.
Together, we settle in.