When released last year, the Nintendo Wii became a gaming phenomenon. Lines stretched around city blocks, people searched around the city to satisfy holiday wishlists only to come up empty handed. Lane Buschel and Steve Bryant, two Brooklynites, decided to organize a Wii tennis tournament they've called Wiimbledon (like Wimbledon, see). Wiimbledon is accepting a limited number of competitors today and tomorrow (the first day was yesterday), starting at noon. The tournament is this Saturday, June 23rd from 11 am -5 pm at Barcade in Brooklyn (388 Union Ave). The grand prize is a Wii console.
First off, how did you guys come up with the idea for Wiimbledon?
LB: We were sitting at our local bar (shout out to Rope!) and Steve mentioned in passing he had registered wiimbledon.net. Pretty cheeky, I thought, and asked if he was going to hold it for ransom. After a few beers (shout out to Six Points' Sweet Action!) and a few more beers, Wiimbledon was born.
SB: I like beer.
You had more than 500 people express interest in the event, were you surprised by the interest? How many players will actually be competing?
SB: Naw, the Wii is pretty popular. And the trend in gaming is towards more sociability. That's why Xbox Live is so popular, and why multiplayer worlds like World of Warcraft kick ass. But the Wii doesn't have an online gaming component – you can't play against your friends online. Wiimbledon solves that by bringing people together. So of course all the ninjas out there, playing Wii Tennis every day and tweaking their level above 2000, are eager to get together and try their skills against other people.
Plus the Wii is so accessible. We have at least a few people playing in the tourney who've never played the Wii at all. But it's tennis. How hard could it be, right?
LB: There's this meme's been floating around for a while on the internets about how "content wants to be free." As Steve and I make our livings off of content, practically-speaking it's something that's hard to support. But it was that kind of thinking that really pushed this thing forward for us. Like, doesn't "fun want to be free" too? I think so, and so we're trying this out. If it works, expect more events from us.
SB: What comrade Buschel is saying is that we're not making any coin on this event. But if we had backing – I'm looking at you, Nintendo – this could be a two-day event with a huge competitor pool.
Do the two of you own the Nintendo Wii and regularly play tennis? If so, which one of you is the better player?
SB: I've been trying to buy a Wii for months, way before we created this tournament, but they're hard to come by. I play with friends every chance I get. That's actually a big reason why I wanted to do this tournament. I'm jonesin for some Wii Tennis action.
LB: I've been down with video game tennis since Sega Master System's Super Tennis. Real tennis, not so much.
How much Wii Tennis have you played? What's your highest rating and do either of you think you could win Wiimbledon?
SB: I'm a ninja with a racket. Lane's a delicate little teacup.
LB: Whatever, dude. When this thing's all over it's you and me like Rocky and Apollo at the end of Rocky III. I'll even let you ring the bell.
SB: That's not the Rocky where they gay it up on the beach is it? You nancypants.
LB: Why, yes. Yes it is. And may I add you'll look splendid dressed like a belly shirted bumblebee, boyo.
You've encouraged people to "dress with moxy." What kind of outfits will you be expecting?
SB: I'm sure we'll get some Tenenbaum outfits, some Squid and Whale outfits, prolly some headbands. Though I think it'd be great if somebody did a complete non sequitur, dress like a piece of asparagus
You also have a prize for "shortest shorts" - any thought that some dude will just show up bottomless? What would the prize for that be? Pants?
SB and LB: We're averting our eyes from this question.
Will there be any type of royalty in attendance?
SB: Dunno. We could crown the wanker who comes sans pantalones. He deserves something. A crown and a kick in the choads sounds bout right.
Are there any thoughts of doing other Wii Sports tournaments?
SB: Mos def. We're considering hosting Wiimbledon tourneys in other cities, perhaps leading up to Wimbledon 2008.
Please share your strangest "only in New York" story.
LB: You've got to be kidding, my moms reads Gothamist!
SB: First month I was here, I guess this was September 2002, I was on the C to Brooklyn. This huge black dude, like Michael Clark Duncan huge, walks onto the car in track pants and a black tank top and sits down with his legs spread wide. Y'know, that sitting position that says 'don't sit near me.'
So in walks this skinny white kid with a shoulder bag. There's plenty of room in the seats, but what's he do but wiggle his scrawny ass into a seat beside Gigantor and open up his ratty copy of Crime and Punishment. Then the kid said something under his breath, I couldn't hear it, but Gigantor did and he turned to the kid and said 'what'd you say?'
The kid made some kinda mousy squeaking noise, and then Gigantor stood up and repeated his question. The kid got up too, at which point Gigantor put him in a headlock and started punching him in his nose. After a few blows he let the kid go and ran out of the car. The kid, crying, asked if anybody was gonna call the police. At which point a lady down at the end of the car told him 'well maybe you shouldn't be sittin by big men, son.'
I usually stand by the doors, myself.
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York?
LB: Bring back the blackout. Not the rolling one, but the big one. That would have made me want to move to the city if I hadn't already lived here then.
SB: Mandatory 24 hour bodegas in Brooklyn.
Favorite headlines: NY Post or Daily News?
SB: Is this even a contest? Post.
LB: I'm in PR. No comment.