SAN FRANCISCO -- A sharp ocean wind blew through downtown Wednesday night, but that wasn't enough to stop Richard Roth, 23. He was the very first in line at the Metreon for Sony's big PlayStation Portable, or PSP, launch.
"I've been here 33 hours," he said. He had started the line Tuesday morning at 8 AM with a chair, a sleeping bag, and a backpack of supplies to endure the drizzling rain. His friend Jossle Sison, 18, was by his side. "I didn't have to hear about the games to know I wanted one."
Roth, it turns out, is something of an expert at camping out. He was there for the PlayStation 2 launch in 2000. "That was bigger," he said. "It was a console."
Dan Maxwell, 20, took his place in line at 8 AM Wednesday morning. "This is the first time I've camped out for anything," he said. "But if you don't get it now, you can't get it for a month."
Why wait in the cold for something you can pre-order?
"Because most stores bundle it with six games you don't want," Maxwell explained.
Mike Jeffries, 24, was playing games on a mobile phone--and complaining about the poor visuals. He's looking forward to the new graphics engine of the PSP. He was also at the PS2 launch. "It's more organized this year," he remarked.
Gamer mom, Robin Wrablewski, 30, waited in line with her young son Isaiah: "He's the reason I'm here!" Isaiah has all the consoles, although his mom confided that the "Xbox is for me." Isaiah is looking forward to playing Twisted Metal on the PSP.
Wrablewski is one dedicated mom--and, perhaps, a closet gamer.
Concepcion Solis, 18, of Oakland, was also here for a loved one: her brother, Arturo, who had to work that day. "I've been here since ten," she said. "My brother is so excited, he's been counting the days, counting the hours."
When her brother showed up, he had a gleam in his eye. Why so excited? "It's the graphics, it's portable--I mean, you can take it everywhere, even to work," he said.
As the day grew dark, helpers wearing PSP-branded jackets handed out knit hats and water to fans, and later, food. There was a real sense of camaraderie in effect, which seemed to deepen the colder it got.
At midnight, the floodgates opened, but there was no mad rush. Organizers escorted customers in groups of three or four into the store, where they filled out a menu of exactly what they wanted, which was then pulled from stock. Obviously Sony learned a thing or two from the PS2 launch.
No craziness this time, just happy customers finally going home clutching their coveted PSPs.
And as the first customers left, some were still joining the line. Tim Griggs, 36, from Hayward, California, left home telling his wife he was going to the store. He showed up at 12:15 am to be the final person in line.