Last night as I made my way across Manhattan in the rain, I had to push my way through 1,500 angry wet customers standing outside the Sony Plaza store on Madison Avenue. Some of them, I’m told, had been there for days, waiting for a Sony Playstation 3 . As the wind caught my umbrella and cold water lashed across my face, I thought to myself, “These people are crazy.”
The angry mob on Madison was just one of thousands across the country. Eager Playstation worshippers lined up outside Wal-Marts, Best Buys and Circuit Cities to be first in line for the game console when it went on sale at midnight. The shoppers I witnessed began to push and shove when a store supervisor announced over a megaphone that only 400 consoles would be sold that night. Patrons at the end of the barricades began to shout, and before I could make it across the street, two men had come to blows, and a few had fallen into a gutter. Only this morning did I learn that what I witnessed paled in comparison to events in Connecticut and Kentucky.
In Putnam, Connecticut, two armed men demanded money from an entire line of customers waiting for a Playstation outside a Wal-Mart. One man, 21, refused, and was shot in the chest and shoulder. A similar situation developed in Kentucky, when four customers were hit by BBs in a drive-by shooting. In Wisconsin, the hysteria continued when a 19-year-old knocked himself unconscious by running full-force into a pole between a Wal-Mart parking lot and the storefront.
I understand that gaming is popular, but it’s horrifying that people are getting shot in real life for something that allows them to shoot people virtually. Given Sony’s announcement that many of the original Playstation games aren’t compatible with the new system, I’m genuinely surprised that all 400,000 consoles released last night were sold for a retail price of about $500-$600.