Return of the Kid

Sometimes, I think I've never really grown up. Sure, there are plenty of times that I feel like an adult, like
when I'm in meetings or enjoying time with my family. But there are other times that I feel like I never got past
age 10. Today was one of those days. Nintendo has a new console coming out called the Wii which has a revolutionary
new controller. Rather than load up the controller with more buttons than you have finger, the controller looks
like a television remote with a couple of buttons on the face and a trigger on the bottom. The innovation in the
controller is that the game console knows where the controller is in the room, and it knows how the controller is
oriented. So if you run from the right side of the room to the left, the console knows. If you tilt the controller
up or down, or right to left, the console knows. It presents a new and exciting way to interact with games. For
instance, in a baseball game you can swing the remote like a bat, or "throw" (don't let go) the remote like the ball.
For golfing you could simply take a swing, or swing your arm for bowling. In fact, these are games that come with
the console.

I'm really excited about this new system. I'm excited about enjoying games in a new way. I mean, I love video
games already, but something that allows me an entirely new way to enjoy my hobby really piques my interest. Not only
that, but Nintendo has come to the press with the message that the Wii isn't meant for the "hardcore" gaming set.
No, instead they are looking to introduce video gaming to the masses. They are interested in the casual gamers:
the folks that play a couple of games of solitaire or mine sweeper each day, the folks that enjoy crosswords and
word searches. Certainly there will be blockbuster games for this system like any other, but you are also going
to find an entirely new set of games that are aimed at folks you wouldn't typically consider gamers. If this works,
there is a chance that I might be able to truly enjoy playing video games with Jennifer!! This is so exciting.
Jenn really doesn't care for video games. Firstly, she is totally correct in her position that most video games are
just too complicated. One of my favorite games is the SSX series of snowboarding games. These games require such
a strange contortion of the hands to master that it can be vexxing for a new player to pickup and try to do well.
Not only are the controls hard to understand, but most games are aimed at the gamer who has hours and hours to
invest in exploring and playing. Someone who only wants to play for 30 minutes or less isn't going to be interested
in the kind of time investment. Games for the Nintendo Wii are going to break that mold. These games will allow
for casual gamers to pick them up, enjoy them for a short period of time, and put them back down again. No
long-term committment necessary.

So the reason I'm going on and on about this is that today EB Games / Gamestop offered pre-orders for the Wii
system. The Wii is scheduled to release on Nov. 19th, and today is the first day that you can pre-order a system
in the U.S. Yesterday I saw an article in one of my favorite gaming news blogs that mentioned the pre-order, and
it was quite clear that pre-orders would be in limited supply. Games stores were seriously burned when they took
more pre-orders for the XBox 360 than they could supply before Christmas '05, so they cut way back on the number
of pre-orders they would take for the new PS3 and Wii systems. On Wednesday customers were able to pre-order
the PS3, and folks were camping out all night just to get a pre-order slot. In many cases, only a couple of units
were available for pre-order. I made up my mind that I would drive by my local EB Games on my way to work to see
if there was a line to pre-order the Wii. I really want one, and I don't want to wait until next year to play one.
Yeah, I'm a spoiled, greedy kid that way.

I drove through the parking lot of the EB at 8:15am, and saw that several people were already in line. Yesterday
I called ahead and was told that they would have much fewer than 30 units for pre-order. I also cleared it with
my boss that I might be in late for standing in line. He kind of chuckled, but said it would be okay. So I hopped
out of the car, donned by jacket and gloves, and got in line. I was #11 at the time. The folks in the first few
slots looked worn and ragged from too much time out in the cold. The store opened at 10am, so I figured I'd be out
here for at most a couple hours. I learned later that the first folks in line had arrived at 5am, and were looking
to take their pre-ordered system and sell it on eBay at a significant markup.

The people around me were in pretty
much the same state in life: 20 and 30 somethings with technical careers and a penchant for gaming. Some folks
were reading books, others were playing games on their cell phones. It looked like three people were engaged in a
heated multiplayer game on their Nintendo DS. About every ten minutes a couple more folks would assemble. These
folks were high schoolers on Fall Break who had driven from Anderson. Apparently the Anderson store wasn't committing
to doing their pre-order sale today, so they drove down here to a store that definitely was. Next was a customer
I mentally named "Loud Guy". He was a clerk at the Blockbuster next door, and had this overpowering loud voice and
laugh. Apparently this guy missed his dose of brains, because he started some of the most moronic conversations I had
heard, at one point getting into a debate over whether monkeys had thumbs or not. At the conclusion of the debate,
he was quite sure that he would be willing to trade his own thumbs for a pet monkey. This started a conversation about
what other folks might trade their thumbs for.... which revolved around all of the things that teenage guys would
consider worth their thumbs. I was a little surprised to hear one say he would like to be involved in a bank heist.

As nine o'clock rolled around, about 20 people were in line. At the tail of the line were a couple of moms who
were looking to get a system for their kids. The store manager had arrived and was going through the opening
checklist, which got everyone excited for a while. The guy from Anderson had a buddy with him. His buddy wasn't
getting a system, but was there to drive since his friend couldn't. He was gracious enough to purchase some of the
folks in line coffee. I had already talked with Jenn, and she was going to drop by with some hot mocha and a camera
to capture the hilarity of it all. Apparently I wasn't the only one with a caring significant other, as around 9:30
some other ladies joined the line with coffee and breakfast. One brought some Egg McMuffins.... man they smelled

The EB Games store is in a strip mall along with a QDoba, a nail and hair salon, a "I sold it on eBay" store,
and a Hallmark shop. We got quite the looks from folks coming in to either open their stores or go shopping. They
must have thought there was a nerd mob forming for some bizarre ritual. In truth, I guess we were.

At 20 minutes to ten, the store manager came out and handed everyone in line a sheet of paper. The sheet had the
list of games that were available for pre-order, their release date, and price. It also had a number, which was
your number in line. He had 18 sheets of paper, and this is when the folks after #18 learned their unfortunate
fate. I think about 5 people had to leave. The manager went back inside to open the store while the crowd let
the excitement build. Some optimistic folks were just arriving to get in line, and it took a bit of courage for
the folks at the end to give them the bad news.

At precisely ten the doors opened and everyone filed inside. As the first folks were going through their paperwork
I noticed a DS download poster, and downloaded the demo of the new Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. It's a
Lemmings type game, and filled the time to place my order. I put in an order for the Wii console, two extra remotes,
and the new Zelda game. I left at 10:30am and headed back to work. Now I get to wait like a little boy for the
next month to pass so I can play with my new toy!!!


Anonymous said...

I hope you never grow up completely
ha ha love you GG

Jade Mason