The parking lot of Fry's Electronics in Fountain Valley last night looked ready for a rock concert. Nearly half of it was cordoned off, in front of a stage scaffolded with lights, amps and a big ole' screen behind it. This wasn't just any fan event for midnight release of Starcraft II. Rather, it was the event--officially sanctioned by Irvine's Blizzard Entertainment, guest starring the company's top brass.
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The thousand or so kids lined up haphazardly in the white-chain queue in front of the stage weren't there for pageantry. They were there, of course, for the game. And so they listened attentively during an interminable Q&A session with Blizzard's top developers. They jumped on each other's shoulders and took off their shirts to be selected to play in one of the exhibition matches on stage. They oohed and hooted and laughed derisively at the appropriate moments while watching those games, which were narrated by a microphone-wearing boy-girl duo who brought with them plenty of ESPN-worthy jargon. "David's going for the expansion," observed official commentator Robert Simpson at one point, referring to one of the players. "Okay, this is not a cheese strategy." Maybe you can't imagine the chuckles that went up.
Turns out, dressing up is more of a thing for fans of Blizzard's flagship, World of Warcraft, Lee says. Starcraft, while huge, is a little less mainstream, and the community it has created appears to be secondary to the actual experience of playing the game.
Besides, many of the people there had a hangover of sorts. In the line for autographs from developers in the Frye's after midnight, Mission Viejo's Ken Tran scoffed when I asked him why neither he--who had camped outside of the store a full 12 hours earlier--nor anyone elese had bothered to dressed up. "It's not Comic-Con," he pointed out. "And that was just last weekend."