They came in droves to see this man, Shigeru Miyamoto, at his first public appearance in New York's Nintendo World. This was not about trading Nintendogs or collecting Miyamoto-signed DS skins; no, it was a pilgrimage. A snaking line of hundreds (probably, thousands) ran west down 48th Street, out to 6th Ave, up to 49th, back down to the south side of 48th, and west again. Some had even braved a mild September night to be one of the first to shake Miyamoto's hand. Others, arriving too late, peered longingly into the tall glass windows that surround Nintendo World.
While there, we learned that Miyamoto is left-handed. That had to have been tough for him growing up, because in Japanese culture left-handedness is loaded with negative meaning and experiences. It's considered rude to hold your chopsticks in your left hand in Japan and China, for instance. It's also a helluva lot more difficult to write classic kanji with the left hand. Top calligraphers are never left-handed, as brush strokes look wrong when pushed across a page rather than pulled across the page with the right hand. It's also considered a sure sign of creativity and artistry, according to some.
We were a little disappointed that there wasn't more full-costome cosplay going on here. Many of the fans in line were wearing some sort of gaming t-shirt or item of clothing (with pink "Princess" t-shirts very popular with the queued-up ladies).
Some folks who were camped outside the Nintendo store came from as far away as Chicago and Canada just for this event. Problem is, only the first 200 would be getting Miyamoto signatures, and there were clearly more than 200 people in line (a count earlier in the morning determined that about 500 people were in line). By the time the event started at 11 A.M., the line had grown significantly.
Pictured below: some very tired-looking campers. The remains of breakfast scattered around them, the haggard looks that come from spending a night fending off all-night attacks from NYC street vermin.
Pictured directly below is a shot of a portion of the line from across the street. The entrance to the Nintendo store is very near the right-hand border of the photo. The line wraps around the building at the left-hand side of the photo. You couldn't ask for better weather though: a comfortable 66 degrees without wind or rain.
Pictured below: the guys from Canada. That's an NES controller strapped to that one guy's head. The left-most fellow is carrying a photo of him when he was four years old opening his first NES at Christmas.
For these guys, this was a pilgramage to see a man who had influenced them greatly. The dude on the right is wearing a shirt with a bunch of NES carts captioned "home schooled." The text of the grey-colored shirt says "know your roots."
Miyamoto signed all sorts of stuff. T-shirts, miniature figurines of Nintendo characters (Link, for instance), GameCubes, Nintendo DSs, a power glove, scraps of paper, Game Boy micros, and so on.
Factoid: Miyamoto takes approximately 10 to 15 seconds to render his signature on a plain sheet of paper. It's a pretty intricate signature with googly eyes on it, so he takes care to make sure it's rendered correctly. The t-shirt he's signing in the photo above took him nearly 30 seconds to sign.
Throughout the ordeal, Miyamoto smiled and laughed a ton, even when smelly fans who had been camping on NYC streets overnight moved in for a hug. (Touching is good!) He was in a great mood, but then again, these are the people that are making him boatloads of money. Why shouldn't he be in a great mood that they're lining up outside a store chock full of products that he had a hand in creating?
Pictured at right is a shot of the special Nintendog that one of the event staff attempted to send over to the first 200 people in line.
Eventually, though, they had to give up on the idea of transferring one of these puppies to everyone who got a signature. Attempts to transfer the puppy with the Mario hat were foiled, perhaps by the noise of several dozen DSs all in the same vicinity. For a moment, Nintendo staff toyed with the idea of asking everyone in the vicinity to turn off their DSs, but this idea went nowhere. How silly would it be if they had to shut off every DS in the Nintendo store in order to get the transfer function working? This will probably be addressed in a future patch to the operating system for the device.
Despite the high level of civility of almost everyone involved (no riots, no shouting) there were numerous reported problems with people cutting line. Wrote Mike, "I was number 140, people cut me or met up with friends. I went into the 90's. Then. I hit 200. I was 207 and I didn't get to meet him after waiting outside for over 12 hours."
Event staff need to be more proactive about managing their queues to prevent this sort of issue, or they're gonna have a fanboi riot on their hands, replete with cardboard swords brandished about violently and NES controller garotting. And stuff. Try as we might, it's hard to make a horde of video gamers sound fierce or mean. Here are some other reports from the event, posted by readers:
Also posted by Greg, a heartbreaking tale of great personal tragedy:
"I was to be there. I was to fly all the way over from Spain. I had saved up to buy tons of DS games and a GBMicro for months, even though I have all the previous systems. I even made myself a custom tshirt for the Revolution, which I designed a mere 10 hours after the controller was revealed. Here's a picture."
In case you're wondering, the Zelda tat pictured at right cost its owner $160. He had one on the other shoulder too.