Gamers walk the line for PS3s

It was not all fun and games at the 48-hour PlayStation 3 line outside of the Best Buy store on Harrison Street.

Police had to be called in Thursday afternoon to expel line cutters andto mediate between an angry mob and a man who slept in his camper while a bag of potato chips “held” his place in line.

Alexandra Micuda was one of the hundreds of die-hard video gamers who built mini towns as early as Tuesday outside their favorite electronic stores around the Bay Area for a chance to buy the limited PlayStation 3 video game console, which was released today in the United States for as much as $700. About 40 people were lined up outside the Best Buy store Thursday afternoon with tents and lawn chairs. The line wrapped around the building for a system that claims to have lifelike graphics and Wi-Fi capability.

Micuda was supposed to return to the East Coast on Wednesday after school closed for the Thanksgiving holidays, but the Skyline College student spent $100 to change her train ticket and sleep on the streets of The City.

“I thought it was going to be all geeks here, but it’s real people,” Micuda said. “Everyone here is so friendly and nice.”

The smell of cigarettes and the sound of generators filled the air outside Best Buy as some anxious customers passed the time by “borrowing” Wi-Fi connections on their laptops while others grilled chicken on hibachis. Some did homework as they took time off from class.

Vlad Mikshanksy held the coveted first spot in line outside Best Buy. He said he set up his lawn chair Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. — 48 hours before the sale — “because I knew there was going to be a line.” The pre-med student wanted to sell his console and use the money for school. In an attempt to keep order in the line, Mikshanksy made a list of names to keep track of who was in line and in what spot.

The majority of the 40 or so people outside of Best Buy on Thursday said they planned to sell their consoles. About six men heckled Micuda, who said she would never sell her PlayStation 3.

Josh Humphrey, a spokesman for Best Buy in San Francisco, said the store last saw lines like this when Xbox 360 was released last year. But he said the gamers came out earlier this year.

“The hype of the PS3 coming out and the limited quantity makes it definitely one of the most anticipated releases,” he said.

Guillermo Flamenco said he figured out a better way to beat the system. The self-described “hustler” paid a neighbor between $200 and $500 to wait in line for him so he can resell the console for up to $5,000 on eBay.

“For someone who’s unemployed and needs some cash, it’s a good way to make everyone happy,” he said. “I come by and check on him and bring him food and just stuff to keep him alive and to make sure he has company.”

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