Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Waiting in Line For Halo, With the Salt of the Earth

Waited in line last night, at GameStop in Brier Creek Shopping Center.

Reminds me of the LAST time I waited in line to buy Halo 2. Pretty funny then, too.

This time....my older son Kevin and I had an interesting talk about the problem of "wait-minimizing arrival time." The object is NOT to minimize the amount of time spent waiting after the store opens, at 12:01 am Tuesday. The object is to minimize TOTAL wait time.

We decided that arriving at 11:35 pm on Monday was a good guess. When we got there, the line was pretty long, stretching around the block. But the GameStop boys had it set up well. You go in (you had to have pre-ordered, and we did, four months ago) and pick up your pick up slip. That ticket is then to be exchanged, in seconds, for the copy of the game AFTER midnight passes and the game goes legally on sale. So, all the financial/ID stuff is done beforehand.

Games start flying out the door at 12:01. We were about 100th in line, but had our game by 12:10 am, amazing. Headed home, let the mayhem begin. "FINISH THE FIGHT!" Total wait time: 35 minutes. We should have arrived at 11:50, would have had the game by 12:15, for a TWT of only 25 minutes. Live and learn.

Highlight of the waiting: For some reason, people in line were really scornful about, as they called it, "the helmet." As in, "I hope I don't see anybody over 12 carrying THE HELMET."

I didn't know what was meant, but my sons told me that THE HELMET is this. Comes with the "Legendary edition," which is a lot like the regular edition, only twice as expensive.

Since it was pretty clear that most of the unshaven, overweight 35 year old men around me who were shouting at anyone carrying THE HELMET had never had the thing called THE DATE in their lives....well, it was a little pathetic to see these permanent bachelors criticize others.

Several 13-14 year old kids tried to hide THE HELMET as they walked by, but THE HELMET is pretty big. Forever scarred.


Dirty Davey said...

Sounds to me like the optimal arrival time is not 11:55 but rather 12:15.

Anonymous said...

I confess; the benefits of having a spouse working for the company that sells this game. I picked my wife up at work and she hands me a video game and asks "heard of this?" (TWT=12 minutes, including drive, but I did have to wait until 5:30 pm). The company gave every employee a copy. But many in the building are technically outside contractors. These contractors do not know anything about signaling games and asymmetric information. By the time a second contractor came to her desk to ask if she planned on keeping the game, she figured it must be something worth keeping (or giving to a sibling?).

Adam said...

Thankfully you went to a store with a well-prepared staff and shorter lines. I went with a friend to the midnight selling of the last Harry Potter book and it was the same situation, check-in before midnight and then books sold at midnight. Because of the number of people buying the book, we actually ended up waiting in line from about 11:15 until close to 1 am before my friend got her copy. It turns out there were about four different lines depending on when you checked in and the staff wasn't fully prepared for where the lines would go. Unfortunately for us, we didn't realize that it was possible to check-in around 3 pm that afternoon and then come back close to midnight and get in the earliest check-in line.

Anonymous said...

PS She hadn't heard of Halo 2... And, does not own an XBox

Anonymous said...

The company you keep...

“This is the Mecca of the video game world right here, right now,” Carl Gunther, a 23-year-old marketing researcher from Brooklyn, said Monday night as he joined hundreds of other fans in a long line outside a Best Buy in Midtown Manhattan.

“Halo is the ‘Star Wars’ of this generation,” Mr. Gunther added. “Thirty years ago my father waited in line to see ‘Star Wars,’ and I know I’ll tell my kids I stood in line to buy Halo 3. It’s like saying you were at Woodstock or something.” (NYT 9.26)

Yeah, right, Woodstock or something.

Mungowitz said...

D. Davey is right, of course, as the problem is stated.

There was a constraint I didn't mention: have to arrive BEFORE midnight. It's a school night, and you want to have some playing time before 1 am bedtime curfew.

Still, something wrong with the way the problem is formulated. How to specify the trade-off between waiting before and waiting after? My "constraint" approach is ham-handed.

Davey wins again!

Shawn said...

so, they were mad that the kids had a bigger helmet than they did?

you never can hide a big helmet. See: Spaceballs.