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Xbox addicts spend hours in line for their prize in Lodi

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Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 10:00 pm

Alex Clardy wasn't doing his homework Monday night.

The Lodi High senior was in line more than seven hours at Wal-Mart to make sure he got one of the precious Xbox 360 consoles that went on sale at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Clardy arrived at Wal-Mart between 4 and 5 p.m. Monday. He was happy that Wal-Mart employees allowed the 50-plus customers to stay warm inside rather than brave the chill outside.

The student got his prize possession, forking out $430 for the video game console and another $60 for a game to use with the Xbox. Then he played with it until 4 a.m.

And yes, he made it to school Tuesday morning.

The new consoles, which also can play music, display photos and show DVDs, are at the center of a strategy that will eventually tie in elements of Microsoft's new online initiative, called Windows Live, said company Chairman Bill Gates.

But could anything be that important that you have to wait in line several hours to buy it?

You see, as three Lodi High students explained at lunchtime Tuesday, the memory is substantially greater, you can download movies and music much more quickly, the controllers are wireless and the graphics are beyond belief.

"It's something to do in Lodi instead of getting into trouble," Lodi High junior Sharif Abu-Shamsiyh reasoned.

Clardy said he plays five to seven hours a day.

And what about that homework?

All about Xbox 360

Manufacturer: Microsoft
First sales: 12:01 a.m. Tuesday
Weight: 7.7 pounds
Cost: About $400, not including games
Games: Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power, Project Gotham Racing, Fable: The Lost Chapters, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, Stars Wars Battlefront II, Call of Duty 2
Attractions: Better graphics, 10 times greater memory, faster downloading time for movies and music

Clardy said he tries to do it at school, before he gets home. Others are required to have their homework done before they can play with his Xbox.

What about dinner?

Clardy said he joins his family for dinner, but he goes right back to his room to play some more.

Abu-Shamsiyh had it a little easier than Clardy. Abu-Shamsiyh got to stay home while his older brother, Sammy, stood in line for nine hours at Wal-Mart. They split the cost, each paying $200.

"Him and Alex were the only ones to not bring lawn chairs," Abu-Shamsiyh said. "They sat on the floor."

Another attraction is that it takes two or three minutes to download music or a movie on a CD instead of the 30 to 45 minutes of downloading time with the old model.

While people stayed in line at Wal-Mart until midnight, the line across the street at Target started between 11 p.m. and midnight. That's because Target didn't open until 8 a.m. - Tuesday.

More than 30 people spent the night outside Target, said store manager Gary Boucher.

Officials at both stores wouldn't say how many Xboxes they had, but both stores sold out their supply. Neither could say when they would get some more.

Although Lodi has had some chilly evenings lately with temperatures flirting closely with 32 degrees, Xbox maniacs in other parts of the country had to endure freezing temperatures.

In New York, customers did an all-nighter in the rain with temperatures in the 30s. In Seattle, customers endured thick fog and temperatures in the 30s and 40s.

In the Big Apple, Peter Gonzalez stood on a city street for more than 28 hours, with only a blanket to protect him from the cold and rain.

"I feel amazing," said Gonzalez, 19, who was first in line at a Best Buy store and planned to play all night before heading to an 8 a.m. class at the College of Staten Island. "It's going to be worth it."

Microsoft's major console rival, Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, also is expected to offer alluring digital entertainment capabilities when it debuts next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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