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November 16, 2006

PS3: Lines long, patience short

Posted by Kim Peterson at 3:14 PM

I've seen the angry video gamer in action at several E3 video game conventions, particularly when the food runs out, when the shuttle buses are full, or when models are told to cover up their bikinis.

All those years of killing zombies, jacking cars and vaporizing aliens have got to leave some inner rage issues for some. So when you put hundreds of people in line in cities around the country waiting to buy what may only be a handful of Sony PlayStation 3s per store, it's entirely possible that some angry gamer channeling might take place. The PS3's go on sale on Friday, in many places at 12:01 a.m. And the reports are coming in:

West Bend, Wis.: Wal-Mart sure handled this one well. A crowd of 50 lined up early this morning only to learn that 10 consoles were available. A store manager placed 10 chairs by the store, pushed the crowd back and told them to run for the chairs to see who would get one. A 19-year-old fan ran into a pole instead and had to be hospitalized. Link (scroll down on page).

Palmdale, Calif: Another winner for Wal-Mart. The store actually had to shut down and called in Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies after a crowd became too rowdy. This newscast on Yahoo Video has the details.
"It was just pure chaos," said one participant. "Little kids got knocked over," said another. Some people were given a $400 ticket for setting up tents.

New York City: Unhappy people at the SonyStyle store and Circuit City. "People are just jumping the line, there were even fights last night," said one observer. "It's totally messed up."

Lexington, Ky.: A drive-by BB gun shooting hits four people waiting in line at Best Buy. It's enough to send two people home, but one stays, saying, "I'd do it again, even if I get shot again."

Want more video? YouTube, predictably, has it.

Manhattan: People cutting in line and selling their spots in line. Link.

Burbank, Calif.: People lined up since Nov. 6. Link. One guy quit his job to line up.
"It wasn't a good job," he said. Another guy said the PS3 is keeping him from buying his girlfriend an engagement ring.

There are lines in the Seattle area, too, but no reports of violence yet.

Update: From a reader who was out at a Fred Meyer:
"The first in line equals first to buy" policy of some stores seems to cause the most problems. I went to a local Fred Meyer with friends, and it was relatively peaceful despite 300+ people competing for only 4 systems. The Fred Meyer had ample security / large, muscled employees as they ran a simple lottery system - everyone was issued a numbered ticket and then a drawing was held in public, with only the 4 winners allowed into the store with a security escort.
My friend happened to have the good luck to be fourth number called and got to buy the 20gig system.

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