A Middle-Aged Geek Reports from the Front

I just got back from Target where I managed to pick up one of the new Nintendo Wii systems. This as it turns out, was quite a bit of luck, as apparently they are in short supply. Now I'm not much of a console gamer anymore. For the last several years the only computer games I've played have been MMORPGs such as Everquest, City of Heroes, and World of Warcraft. Playing these just doesn't leave much time for playing other computer games. I've read lots of articles about the current console wars, X-Box 360, Sony PS3, and Nintendo Wii, but had not gotten very excited over any of it. I had no plans of buying a console. I got caught up in the hype however. For the last few days on the tech news sites I read there has been a steady barrage of stories about how the Wii is the most extraordinary thing to hit the world of gaming since the invention of 3x t-shirts. It really does sound like a cool system. Many, many years ago when I had to play lousy games on Atari 2600 and even the original Nintendo, I had always thought it would be very cool if you could have a controller that you could swing like a sword or aim like a gun. It would be so much more fun for the type of games I play. Now it appears Nintendo has started us down that road. This is a first gen product as far as that technology goes, so I'm not expecting miracles. I do however want the chance to try it.

I'm not the type to camp out for a day to get the latest piece of tech. Its just not important enough for me to expend that kind of effort. However I had to be up late last night and early this morning to get some updates done for servers at work so I decided to check out the local stores and see what I could find. I arrived at the Bonner Springs 24hr Wal-Mart about 11:30 PM last night to find over 30 people waiting in line for 20 consoles. No problem, go home. This morning when my server updates completed at about a quarter to 7 I decided to head over to the closer Wal-Mart that opened at 7:00 AM. I ended up being 22nd in line for 20 consoles there. So, deciding to take one last shot I headed to the new Target by the Legends, knowing they opened at 8:00. One of the guys behind me in the line asked if he could follow since he didn't know the way. I said sure and we arrived to find nobody in line. So being fairly jazzed we stood around while a few more people came and got in line behind us. The guy that had followed me was actually standing in line in front of me, we figured it didn't matter as we were the first ones there. It turned out we weren't. The manager came out a little later and asked who was first. I said we arrived at the same time, but the other guy very graciously said that he had followed me there. It turned out there had been a line earlier and they had given them all tickets for the systems and sent them away. They had one left, which I got.

I almost feel guilty, when all the ticket holders showed back up to get their stations it turned out most of them had camped out for at least 5-6 hours in freezing temperatures. One guy had waited 10 hours. I strolled up a half hour before the store opened and scored. Of course, I probably won't get a chance to play it until Thursday, but at least I have one and won't have to wait in line during the second release. I'm half tempted to sell it on eBay. I got mine for $250 and I see them selling from $500-$900, I could make a nice profit. That just seems unethical though, people doing that kind of thing is largely what drives these release day shortages. I don't want to be part of that problem. Besides, my wife would just find a way to suck that extra money from my budget anyway.

A few observations about the people I saw trying to get a Wii. First of all, everyone was very nice and polite, didn't seem to be any jerks like I've heard about in many of the lines for the PS3s. Secondly, I was about the fattest guy in the the places I went. Not something I'm proud of mind you, but I was kind of surprised to see so many relatively thin gamers. And third, Ritalin. They need more Ritalin. Most of the young people I spoke too talked so fast, and so incessantly that I probably couldn't have followed the conversation, even if I had been trying to (ok, maybe the first point only applied til I showed up). Even when they had numbered tickets that dictated when they would get their system they were still bouncing off the walls and trying to get the store to open early. It could be I'm just jaded and don't get that excited about much of anything anymore, save a short line at the Chinese buffet.

Anyway, I made my foray into depths of geekdom and lived to tell the tale. Its good that I got this today. This weekend is essentially the last day I can go to any shopping center until the middle of January when the holiday insanity has passed.