Sony fans play the waiting game

Dozens of would-be PS3 owners have begun camping out at Sony's official PlayStation store in San Francisco in the hopes of being among the first to buy the new system.

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First in line, Chris from SF.
First in line, Chris from SF.

SAN FRANCISCO--It takes a unique brand of dedication to line up and wait for the privilege of lining up and waiting somewhere else.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, a line of about 65 people had formed across the street from Sony's flagship PlayStation and SonyStyle stores in the Metreon at the corner of Fourth and Mission. While there's no doubt the line is for the PlayStation 3, Sony corporate mandated that no "official" line was allowed at the Metreon before 8 a.m. Thursday, so this line formed on Minna St. as a place to wait until there's an official line to join.

Counting down the hours at the Metreon.
Counting down the hours at the Metreon.

The line was a calm affair, most people lounging in beach chairs or milling about in the balmy 60-degree weather. They were hunkering down for the long wait until the following morning, when what they hope will be an orderly transition to official status is expected to be facilitated by Sony staffers.

To manage the transition from rogue gathering to official PS3 queue, the fifth person in line, Gieson from the East Bay, had created a list. "As long as no one bum rushes, it'll be fine," Gieson said.

With tent, cards, and cooler, these UCSF grad students wait out the night in relative comfort.
With tent, cards, and cooler, these UCSF grad students wait out the night in relative comfort.

Sony staffers inside the PlayStation store made it clear that they could disperse the currently building line at any time, but privately added as long as those in line remained peaceful and orderly, breaking up the line was unlikely.

The first in line, Chris from San Francisco, said he and his friends decided to start the camp out on a whim. They came by the Metreon today at 5 a.m., and noticing there was no one waiting and no lines formed, they quickly went on a supply run--securing tents and food--returning around 9 a.m. to camp out in the pole position. Most of the crowd had made no more preparation than wearing heavy coats and lugging some additional clothing and food.

Milling around, with the PlayStation store in the distance.
Milling around, with the PlayStation store in the distance.

A group of five grad students from the University of California San Francisco passed the time playing cards and tossing a football. The group, all biophysics researchers, planned to sleep in shifts and keep an eye peeled for foul play. However, once in line, plans have a way of changing. One of the group expressed concern for how they would pass the time until the 8 a.m. transition to a Sony-sanctioned line, saying, "I don't know if sleep's a realistic option."

Those in line signed a list to preserve their spot.
Those in line signed a list to preserve their spot.

The line members' vigil should come to an end Friday at 12:01 a.m., when Sony's PlayStation 3 game console officially goes on sale. And while Sony's big launch event is taking place at SonyStyle Plaza on Madison Ave. in Manhattan, there will be plenty of activities happening in San Francisco to report on.

Expect more coverage from the PlayStation Store in San Francisco as well as the New York City launch party tomorrow night.

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