With a male to female ratio of 20 to 1, gamers waved a controller in front of a giant flat screen in the semi-secret private bar Sole Repair, across from Neumos. You move your arm and on screen, you appear to paint a stripe. In another game you use the controller as though it were a swatter, hitting bugs flying across the view.
If it looks like a Wii, and it plays like a Wii, and it feels like a Wii, and you've had four mint juleps, it's totally not a Wii!
If you've ever played the Nintendo Wii, this should be sounding familiar. But Sony, who is hosting this party, insists that the controller they are debuting, the PlayStation Move, is completely different.
"See that," Sony staffer Jeff says, spinning the controller in his hand while on screen the fly swatter spins around simultaneously. "That's something the competition couldn't even dream of doing."The "competition," as Nintendo is referred to throughout the night, also doesn't have a camera sitting on the television, Jeff points out. Rather than an avatar, it appears that you are playing inside the game--think of it like seeing a hi-def Wal-Mart security camera version of yourself swatting at cartoon bugs. Plus there's a big, neon bulb at the end and the controller is black. See, it's completely different.
Also to help convince the techies and nerds that they should wait in line for hours for the Move at its as-yet-undecided release date this fall, Sony offered free themed cocktails like the Move Julep. So we asked the important question. How many of these would you need to drink to convince you that the Move is, like, totally different, and way awesomer than the "competition?"
A key ingredient in PlayStation's marketing strategy.
"Two drinks in, I think the tech demos I saw weren't enough to distinguish it from the Wii," says Doug, who doesn't give his last name. How many Move Juleps would it take to get him to pre-order the new toy? He raises four fingers. Halfway there.
Alan Au, a freelancer for a gamer trade rag, is much harsher. He's skipping the cocktails, sipping his second IPA. Like many people at Sole Repair, he already owns the Playstation 3, the game console with which you'll use the Move, and is happy with the standard controller. Even seeing the Move used in PlayStation's marquee shooter game Special Operations Command 4, he's not convinced he has to have one. How much would he have to imbibe to get there? "Probably a lot of beers."
Later in the evening, Playstation opens up the bar to the general public. Devoted fans have been lining up down the street and are more forgiving than the techies invited in early. Ballardite Ryan Counter gets in the door early in promptly slaps on a "Hello My PSN [PlayStation Network] ID Is" nametag. He goes by "Hush 505."
Sony game producer George Weising gives us a close-up of the device. See the light on the end? The Wii doesn't have that.
One screwdriver in, the diehard Hush 505 is already sold. "This is one of the nicest launch parties I've ever been too," he says, before actually commenting on the Move itself, which he thinks is more accurate than the Wii.
As the booze continues to flow, talk turns from both the Wii and the Move to Microsoft's Project Natal (pronounced NayTALL, they really need help in the "naming things" department) which has no controller. The nerds are really wetting themselves over the prospect of a game system that recognizes your entire body's movements. But then again, Microsoft isn't throwing swank parties with free juleps.