Saturday, April 05, 2008

Let Us Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Consoles

Yesterday I got up early to pack my 360 and all my Rock Band kit into a suitcase to drag it down Holloway Road, ride with it through the Tube, then drag it into my office so we could do our first planned office morale activity: play some Rock Band. That's doubly-cool because Rock Band isn't out here yet, so no one has had a chance to play around with it. I set up the Xbox, plugged it in, got all the instruments plugged in, ran through a test song to make sure everything was working correctly, turned it off until the session was about to start, came back and turned it on, watched as the menu froze, then watched as the startup screen froze, and then got the symbol you see above.

The Red Ring of Death.

The Red Ring of Death, or RROD, is what happens when there's a critical failure inside a 360 - it flashes three quarter-circles of red light to indicate that it's got a bit of a problem. It also means your console isn't working anymore and you have to send it to Microsoft so they fix it - and wait, console-less, for them to do so.

Now it's no mystery that I worked on the 360 account in my first days at Edelman, initially on the Corporate team and then on the Community team, before moving on to other accounts (and, that takes care of my transparency disclosure too.) I was excited to work on the 360 account because I came from traditional games, I thought the 360 was doing a lot of things right, and I liked the original Xbox a lot. I don't want to say that I was chugging the cool-aid, but I did buy the first 360 I could as soon as I could.

That one lasted about three months before its DVD drive failed, scratching some of my discs.

The next one lasted about six months or so before its DVD failed.

The one you see above is my third Xbox 360.

Additionally, I packed it into a box to ship over here around the first of November, so until recently I had been Xbox-less. It took far longer to get here than anticipated, so it was sitting unused in its box for a good part of the last few months. Since it got here, I haven't put it through any use it hadn't been through before - often I'm very good about turning it off and not playing for too long at any given time - not that I have time to do otherwise.

Now I've had a lot of consoles. I had an NES. It did start to get wonky, because some NES' had problems with their connectors going bad. Fixing it is an easy open-screw job. I have a Genesis. It still works fine. I had a SNES. Going strong. I have a Dreamcast that works like a charm. I have purchased a 2600, an Intellivision, a Colecovision, a Sega CD and Sega 32X, a Jaguar, a Turbo Graphix 16, a Saturn, and and Xbox, all of which work as well as they did when they rolled off the assembly line. I also have a PS2, which I had to replace twice, both times for the DVD drive failing. If I had purchased a piece of consumer electronics that failed three times on me, I would simply not buy it again or replace it after the third time.

Except in this instance I have hundreds of dollars of games for this device, so I'd really be screwing myself. So I will wait, patiently, for my the repaired console to come back.

I offer no judgment on this situation - I leave that up to you, Puppeteers. I'm only neutrally reporting what's happened to me and the fact that I will now likely have to wait two more months to get my console back. I also have to request my specific console back, because it's a US 360 and 360 games are region-coded - meaning if I just went out and got a UK 360, none of my games would work on it. And since I have to send it to the UK repair center (centre), I run the risk of them not returning my console to me at all but instead giving me one that won't work with my games.

In the meantime, as much as I'd love to play Rock Band or Crackdown with my friends back home - sorry guys, I'm going to have to sit the next few rounds out. I suppose you could send game requests to the repair center (centre) - I hear they have a lot of consoles there.

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