If you're a gamer living in South Africa, chances are that your visual periphery was dominated this past weekend by Microsoft's Xbox 360 launch and its accompanying marketing campaign. Nearly a year after the system's first-worldwide launch, the Xbox 360 became officially available to eager shoppers at the stroke of midnight on Friday, 29 September. Playable in-store kiosks, radio advertisements, campus tournaments and vaguely sinister cardboard stands announced not only the arrival of "the next generation of gaming," but the expansion of choice.
Unless you wanted to import the original Xbox or stick your hand into the awkward and tangled mess of Gamecube distribution lines, the PlayStation 2 was the only console the average gamer could reliably and affordably find in game stores. The merits of Sony's system have long since been established and it's easy to argue that South Africa got the best console out of the bunch, though "best" loses much of its meaning when it becomes interchangeable with "only." Consider for a moment how your gaming habits might be affected if two out of three consoles weren't readily available to you.
For comparison's sake (and because we didn't have much else to do) we attended one of the midnight launches at BT Games (Northgate) in Johannesburg, taking care to snap pictures and generally harass people who simply wanted to pick up their pre-orders in peace. Several midnight events took place all over the country, coinciding with the beginning of rAge -- a gaming expo we'll tell you about later.