Kalamazoo's Daniel Smith is used to playing video games, just not in front of a couple thousand people.
Smith, 19, may get the chance Tuesday if his luck continues. The avid gamer was randomly selected to be one of three national finalists in Nintendo's First-to-Play Sweepstakes. On Monday, he'll be flown to Los Angeles with a chance to be the first to play Nintendo's new game system, Wii, during the Electronics Entertainment Expo.
If his name is selected Tuesday, Smith will sample Wii (pronounced “we'') in front of thousands of gaming-industry professionals, insiders and reporters at the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards.
“It would be cool if I won, but I'm just happy to go to L.A.,'' said Smith, who graduated from Allegan High School in 2005 and is attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
“I've never been to L.A. before. I might check out Hollywood, the beaches and just be a tourist.''
As part of the prize, Smith received a round-trip ticket to L.A., a two-nights stay, a Nintendo DS and a video game, a T-shirt and $200 spending cash. He was also allowed to bring a guest.
Smith said he plans to take his friend Wee Min Joh, of Malaysia. Joh is studying at the University of Michigan on a student visa, Smith said. The two met through MySpace.com.
Joh sent him the link to the AOL.com contest, and Smith said he filled it out because “I was like, `OK, what do I have to lose?'
“I thought it was only right to invite him,'' Smith said.
Smith said they'll remain in L.A. through Friday to take in the gaming conference and visit the area.