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Release of the Wii: Live Report at Butler Plaza

The week of November 13, 2006 was unprecedented in the gaming world. With the Playstation 3 and the Wii's release date only two days apart, the madness can only intensify. I went with a friend who was buying the Wii. The location was the Rhino Games in Butler Plaza of Gainesville, Florida.

Nov. 17: The Night of Horror

My friend was going to make a trip to Butler to check out the situation at the game store that evening around 8:30PM, as well as eat out with another friend. Seeing there were already people lining up, we decided to start camping out there completely unprepared. Rhino Games only had 19 Wiis in stock and my friend was #17 on the list. We split up to buy blankets and food from the 24hr Walmart next to Rhino while other went back for more blankets at the dorm. The sixteen people ahead of us were taking turns playing on a GameCube someone had set up. The list holder did periodic roll calls. The game store provided hot cocoa for free until closing. As the temperature dropped drastically, most of the people, including me, drifted off to sleep. Sometime around 2:30AM, everyone was woken up by a loud exploding sound. The alarm in the store immediately began to blare. No one was sure what happened and some people even left to camp at Best Buy instead. Half an hour later, the Sheriff and two fire trucks rolled in front of the store. Apparently, two guys had thrown a soda bottle bomb at the campers before taking off. The evidence was taken and the store own came back to turn off the alarm. For the rest of the cold, cold night we were plagued by noisy street cleaners and water sprinklers.

Nov. 18: "What are you waiting for again?"

The day as much warmer, a gift for us who almost froze in the night. In the morning, there were a few people who drove by and jeered at us, throwing some nasty insults. However, the campers remained behaved and organized despite all that. They were all pretty friendly and willing to help each other. When the evening set in, many people were rather curious and asked politely what we were waiting for. Since the Playstation 3 was released not too long ago with huge media attention, 90% of the people asked if we were waiting for the Playstation 3. One man asked if we were protesting the war. Finally, when 10:30PM came around, everyone packed up and formed a line. The store owner checked off the names and what each person was purchasing. We were allowed to linger in the store and warm ourselves until 11:45PM. Buyers were lined up according to the list. At 12:00AM, they were let in two at a time to buy the Wii. All the buyers came out with victorious smiles, clutching the system very tightly. My friend was one of them.