Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Final Moments of PlayStation Home (4-1-15)

Sony’s virtual world experiment on PS3, called PlayStation Home, hit the gaming scene on December 11, 2008. And after six-plus years, the game finally closed its doors on March 31, 2015 (April 1 in EST).

These are the final moments of PlayStation Home.

I was FROZEN today!

The closure of PlayStation Home leaves many unanswered questions. Why did they call Home players Homesters? Why not Homebodies, Homers, or Home-os? What do the lyrics to "Chain Swing" mean? Why were there so many ghosts haunting in the PS Home landscape?

The world will never know.

March 31, 2015, 3 a.m. – 24 hours until the end

My eyes shoot open in the middle of the night. I’m sick as a dog and can’t sleep. Stumbling out into the living room, I pour a glass of diet Pepsi and boot up PlayStation Home, because part of me is afraid they already shut it down.

What I see brings a smile to my face.

Conga lines like this were common in the early days of PlayStation Home. It’s a nice bit of nostalgia.

My game freezes and I have to reset. When I come back, the conga line is gone. In fact, Home freezes three more times in the next hour and a half. I wonder if it’s the servers dying already.

The freezes aren’t limited to me, as someone I was speaking with reports getting frozen at the exact same time.

6:30 p.m. – nine hours until the end

After work, I come back to PlayStation Home and find a guy saying goodbye to the water fountain in Central Plaza. Another is just sitting there with a sign that says “The end of the world is nigh.” Rather apropos.

The party is raging in Central Plaza, so that’s where I decide to spend the final moments when they come.

10 p.m. – five hours until the end

A friend from real life dusts off his Home account and hangs out with me for a while. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone I know in real life on PSH. And he’s also the last. He has a sweet hover board. I’d be jealous if PlayStation Home wasn’t going to die in a few short hours.

11 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. – two and a half hours until the end

In Home Square – still festively decorated for Christmas – I meet a player about twice as old as me. I have more in common with him than the 20-year-old walking eyeballs and snake women dry humping each other, so we talk for quite a while. It’s the most significant conversation I’ve ever had on PS Home, and in the end, he tells me that I’ll be a “great mom.” Oops, forgot I was playing as a woman. I didn’t correct him.

April 1, 1:30 a.m. – an hour and a half until the end

I discover “Quest for Greatness 2,” a long, drawn out card hunting game. My personal quest for greatness is abandoned 90 seconds later. Gonna guess I don’t have enough time.

I spend the next hour and a half dancing in the Central Plaza as planned.

April 1, 2:59 am. – the end

Like Tears in the Rain

Now that PlayStation Home has officially retired, I’m left to reflect on it one more time.

An avid collector, I own about 1,500 games spanning more than 30 years. But as a predominantly console gamer, online play was something I rarely encountered until the PlayStation 3 era.

PlayStation Home is the first online-only game I ever put a significant amount of time into, and now it’s gone. Up until now, my favorite games of yore have remained at my fingertips. But not Home. I can’t take it with me. I can’t put it back on the shelf and whip it out in ten years later when I’m feeling nostalgic. (I can’t even copy it to a thumb drive.)

That’s one of the reasons I preserved my experiences through photos and blogging: It’s the only way I’ll be able to remember it. Otherwise, to quote Blade Runner, “all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.”

PlayStation Home brings to mind another uncomfortable question: when will ALL PS3 titles will be stripped of their online capabilities?

PS3 fatality?

Home’s closure is just the beginning of the end for my beloved PlayStation 3. I’ve made the jump to PlayStation 4 and of course it’s great, but I doubt the online landscape will have the same Wild West-style appeal that the PS3 did.

Also, I don’t think we’ll see anything like Home again for quite a while. And maybe that’s not so good for more than just nostalgia’s sake.

Pretty Woman

Logging in after a long absence about a year ago, I discovered that my two male avatars had vanished. Inexplicably, the lone survivor was a woman I refer to as “Red.” In the early days, I used her to toll random dudes. You know, for the lulz.

But maybe the joke's on me.

As Red, I’ve gotten catcalled, told I have a nice ass, and asked repeatedly to be someone’s “girlfriend.” Generally I ignored it. But every once in a while, I responded.

To anyone reading this who is looking for a date: If a potential mate responds to your advances with “You have a tiny p3nis,” do not reply “do you want to see it?”

Seriously, some dudes are dense as hell. Also, a video game is probably a bad place to look for love.

Some PSN dudes. Mask guy in the foreground hit on me.

On the other hand, male players would often send me gifts or treat me with a respect that they never afforded to Lenny, my African American man avatar, or to my rough interpretation of my real-life appearance.

PlayStation Home, it seems, was a microcosm of society.

Who would ever have thought I’d learn the ups and downs of being a woman through a video game?

There’s No Place like (PlayStation) Home

I took a lot of photos for this series of articles (see the first one here, and the second here if you missed them). I also took a bunch for my first PlayStation Home article way back in 2010. That one is much more lighthearted, BTW.

They’re not doing me any good just hanging out on my hard drive, so I thought it might be nice to share my photos. Here’s two galleries to see off all you Homesters. Or Homebodies. Home-os?


PlayStation Home was a lot of things, and even if it wasn’t functional, or well-programed, or even fun, sometimes it could be really pretty.

Here’s one last shot I took from my Harbour Studio apartment, which for a lot of people, represents their first moments with Sony’s strange cyber society.

I’ve always found it satisfying end things the same way they started.

Goodbye, PlayStation Home, you confusing, lovable waste of time.

UPDATE: 3:40 a.m. April 1, 2015

Sony released a mandatory 19 megabyte update to Home less than an hour after it shut down "for maintenance." Trying to open Home after the update produces this photo:

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