This is my experience preordering the Nintendo Wii on October 13th, 2006. Yes, it was worth it.
I got up at 5:30 for family circumstances, and had no reason to go back to sleep. I had class in a few hours anyway, so I figured going down to Ohio State University campus for some extra study time would do me some good. I ate, dressed in several layers, and caught the earliest COTA bus down to North High Street.
By the time I made it down to campus it was still oppressively dark out, and the air was frigid in the grip of the early Midwest winter. I knew that the Wii preorders were taking place today, but hadn’t bothered to make advance plans—I had other, heavier things on my mind. But as I came out onto High Street, something caught my eye. A sole gamer huddled in the doorway of the EB Games across the street, playing his DS Lite. Spontaneous opportunity was not simply knocking, but beating my door down. I made a decision, and crossed the street.
The gamer greeted me with a weak smile. A small cluster of additional enthusiasts lounged in the adjoining Panera Bread, nursing coffees and hot chocolates. I presumed that this EB, secluded in the campus gateway shopping strip, would not garner much attention. Clearly, there was no rush, unlike the mad PS3 dash a few days earlier. I was wrong.
Plopping down for the long haul, I was quickly joined by the other gamers from Panera, and we began a casual conversation about Trauma Center and how ungodly hard it is. Cold as it was, I mainly kept my face away from the wind and focuses on breaking my record on Metroid Fusion.
The store staff arrived about an hour early. They entered the store and locked it up tight just as fast, refusing our pleas to be let in early. The sun had crested over a nearby bookstore and warmed my aching nose. My vision was obscured by my bulky coat and the doorframe, and I was curious as to just how many people this little EB had attracted. I peered out from within the doorframe to survey the line. My breath caught in my throat.
Nearly fifty people had accumulated behind me. Where before there had been maybe seven people, there were now dozens. They chatted. They read various gaming magazines. They played World of Warcraft, piggybacking on the free Wifi streaming from the Panera to their backs. I was the second guy in a line that stretched well around the corner. I had inquired earlier in the week, and I knew this EB had 14 preorders available. Truly, the early bird catches the worm.
The waiting grew burdensome. Certain biological imperatives made concentrating difficult, and the glare of the sun blotted out even the highest brightness setting of my DS Lite. I was almost sure I would have to make a mad dash for the Panera restroom, but to desert the line now meant failure. I held my ground. A passed-around copy of Game Informer served as only a mild distraction, and my fingers had long since grown too numb to guide Samus through the bowels of the B.S.L. space station. The EB employees milled about in the back store room, as if taunting us.
Finally, after two and a half hours of freezing, Zelda music on my MP3 player, and ignoring my insistent bladder, an employee unchained the gates. I allowed the first gamer to go ahead of me—after all, he had gotten there first. Thus, I was the second person to claim a preorder. One out of 14. I was, am assured a console on launch day. As we, the early sitters exited the store triumphantly, the less than lucky people in line either congratulated us or gave us dour glares. I didn't care. I had what I came for.
All of this happened scant hours ago, and already it's a memory I'll never forget, like the last big E3 or the first time I played Metroid Prime. These are the memories that make being a gamer special, and it’s the kind of thing I can’t explain to someone who thinks my pastime is a useless waste. Why do we do it? Why do we freeze and wait and get cramped legs? Simple--it's Nintendo.