Over the weekend I spoke with one of the Microsoft brains who hatched the idea for the Zero Hour party in the Mojave desert. He told me that Zero Hour's resemblance to Burning Man is entirely intentional (check out these structures). Judge for yourself how well they pulled it off from the pics on the Zero Hour roundups listed below. There are alternate theories about the origins of this Zero Hour event idea, naturally. Dean Takahashi unearthed a fascinating tidbit from the 1999 book "Renegades of the Empire" in which Alex St. John (co-creator of DirectX and now CEO of WildTangent) planned a huge Area 51 alien spaceship landing in an abandoned aircraft hangar. Microsoft zapped that plan, but the Zero Hour event—which took place in a hangar that was used to film one of the Mission:Impossible movies—bears an obvious resemblance to St. John's old 1996 plan. There is also a rumor circulating that the Zero Hour hangar is owned by some Microsoft millionaire. Not true, I'm told. But it's always possible that I myself am being used as a way to further cloud the truth—how dastardly!
Needless to say, it took an enormous amount of planning to pull the event off. There were Xbox-ers from 30 countries in attendance who not only flew out on their own dime, but still had enough left over to purchase a system. And Microsoft spent a good deal of effort making sure that the right number of 360s were on hand to ensure that if you were attending from the UK or Timbuktu you were buying a system with the right kind of power cord (remember, the 360 doesn't go on sale until Dec 2 in Europe and Dec 10 in Japan). A good number of people arrived on Sunday and played straight through until 9PM Monday night when a fleet of Best Buy trucks arrived to begin dispensing the consoles. After that, all the scantily clad women, krump dancers and media personalities were reduced to mere piffle.
Tags/Zero Hour [Flickr]
Krunker - Xbox 360 Zero Hour Event [Krunker]
Xbox 360 Zero Hour Event [Mobilewhack (but written by Krunker)]
More Zero Hour Coverage [Major Nelson (not Krunker)]
Xbox 360 Zero Hour Event: A Wide Swath Of Humanity [SJ Merc]
Xbox 360 Is Launched [Hunterstrat]
The Missing Nin's Pagoda of Gaming [Photo Album]
Zero Hour (+3) [Gwaggle]
Xbox 360: Zero Hour Launch Event [Official Site]