Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Waning Hours of PlayStation Home (3-29-15)

PlayStation Home, circa March 2015

Sony’s virtual world experiment on PS3, called PlayStation Home, hit the gaming scene on December 11, 2008, bringing its own brand of massively multiplayer fun to a community of millions. Sony recently announced that it will be shutting the game down on March 31, 2015, some seven years after its debut.

These are the waning hours of PlayStation Home.

Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 6 p.m. – about 80 hours until the end

Central Plaza has made a bit of a comeback in comparison to the ghost town it had become two weeks ago. I think nostalgia is bringing a few players back for one last hurrah. Also, I noticed at least one individual in the default Home outfit. Imagine starting a new game two days before the server is taken down. You’d be a n00b forever. Bummer.

But the real party is in the Hub, Central Plaza’s smaller spiritual successor. The music – including the unofficial PlayStation Home theme song, “Chain Swing” – is pumpin’ and the giant transparent robots, half naked fairies, and bespectacled hotdog men are dancing the night away. Or lurching for some of them. Ugh.

Some dude runs past asking for help with the “Welcome Home” trophy, which requires one player to invite the other to their apartment. I do it for him, because collecting my trophy was a huge pain. I got mine… differently… then intended.

March 29, 2015, 1 a.m. – about 72 hours to the end

Party’s still hopppin’, and I decide to spread the love with the “Welcome Home” trophy, inviting two strange men to my apartment late at night. In hindsight, I probably could have worded that better.

Nice wiener, dude.

Then I received a message from a player named le619 that read, “hey damn girl very nice ass.”

Sometimes I’m not sad that PS Home is going the way of the dinosaurs.

But I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

One of the reasons I’m so interested in the death of Sony’s bizarre virtual world is that despite spending hours roaming its nooks and crannies, but I never really “got it.” Thanks to most players using a stock gamepad, talking to anyone is the equivalent to texting on a track phone. Load times are slow, and even with a direct Ethernet cable connection, you're hanging out with ghosts for your first few minutes in any new location.

This old Penny Arcade cartoon really sums it up:

My latest attempt to make PS Home meaningful (aside from writing this series of articles) was to get all the trophies. I figured it would be cool, years into the PS4 era and beyond, to have a record of my time with this oddity. Seeing that last trophy pop was satisfying enough, but only in the way that completing any game is. It still didn’t justify PlayStation Home’s existence, as least in my mind.

My search for PS Home’s purpose is nothing new. Years ago I’d play it when I was feeling lonely, but the interaction wasn’t exactly human enough to lift my spirits. I’d play when I was board, and wind up just as bored when I was done. One time a player talked to me at length about her feelings. I’m sure she thought I was someone her age, but I didn’t bother to correct her. Instead, I listened and responded as needed, but I don’t think she felt any better about things when we were done.

That’s why I have a soft spot for PlayStation Home, the junk food of the gaming world. As much as I’ve tried to figure it all out over the years, it evades my understanding.

What a waste of time.

I sure will miss it.

I’ve Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway

So Home is about two days away from Sony pulling the plug, and I plan to be right there when it happens. Will the screen go black and kick me out of the application? Will I suddenly lose my internet connection as Sony knocks everyone offline for maintenance? Or will it allow players who are still logged in to continue for a while as Sony denies others if they try access the game?

I’ll let you know in my final update April 1.

Green Pedobear knows where you live. Well, at least until Tuesday.

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