November 19, 2006 marked the day of the Nintendo Wii launch, and many Seattle–area stores held midnight launch parties to pacify the many Nintendo fans. Many Toys ‘R’ Us and Gamestop stores opened their doors before midnight, but would not allow anyone to purchase a console until 12:01am on Sunday. Gamestop only opened their doors to those who pre-ordered and were able to show their sales slips.
The story was the same with Fred Meyer (a semi-national grocery and department store), who did not take pre-orders. Several people started forming a first-come-first-served line early Saturday, and the line grew to over one-hundred as the witching hour approached. Management confirmed that there were 90 consoles available, and those in line quickly counted to see which spot they had. As I took interviews down the line, I noticed that several 8 to 9-year-old boys had dragged their parents out for the midnight party, so there was not a 1-to-1 ratio of people vs. consoles… there was still hope for those in the back of the line.
Several parents stood in line with their children, who somehow persuaded the escort to the midnight party. When asked how they felt about standing in line, some responded that it brought back memories of standing in line for Duran Duran, Rock Monster, and other concerts when they were their children’s ages. Many of the children were unable to sleep last night, knowing that they would be playing the new console in less than 24 hours. For them the experience is something they will always remember: this is their Star Wars, their Kennedy Assassination.
Although there were several elementary-aged children in line, there were many other high-school and college students. One group of friends (Kevin, Max, Chris, Koichi, and Theo) all went to the University of Washington, and grew up with the original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). Kevin even took the time to study up on his Biology class while he waited in line.
Another group of friends, Ana, Dennis, and Andrea, got in line around 7:30pm. They were line veterans, as they stood in line to watch Star Wars Episode I when theaters opened their doors several years ago.