The first time the PlayStation really caught my attention was back in 1998. I was in Spanish class and talking to the guy who sat next to me, Michael, rather than working on my assignment like a good student. It was freshman year of high school and, with Christmas on the way, my brother and I were looking to ask the big guy in the red suit for a new video game console. Little did I know that, in deciding which game console we hoped to find tucked under the tree, I would be setting the stage for a love affair with PlayStatoin consoles that would last to this very day.
Like many children of the ’80’s and ’90’s, I grew up on Nintendo consoles, spending an unsettling number of hours helping Mario lower flags in front of castles, guiding Donkey Kong through the jungle and taking Link on one epic quest after another. Sega never really clicked with me and I didn’t really know anything about Sony’s first offering, the PlayStation.
We didn’t have the internet back then and I didn’t watch all that much TV—and, thus, no commercials—so I didn’t really know too much about my options at the time. All I knew is that I had been raised on Nintendo and, after playing Super Mario 64 in the local Walmart’s demo kiosk, my brother and I had decided to stay loyal to the brand.
But, then in walks Michael with a copy of Official PlayStaton Magazine, showing off a feature on an upcoming game called Resident Evil. I was a sucker for all things horror and, according to Mike, this game would actually let the player experience the nightmare of battling zombies in a spooky mansion for themselves. I ran to the grocery store after school and bought my own copy of the magazine, reading it cover to cover half a dozen times.
At that point, I think that the PlayStation became to me what punk rock became to the kids of the ’70’s and ’80’s. It was counterculture. It was the underdog. It was a smaller community that the rest of the world just didn’t understand. Screw Nintendo, I thought. PlayStation is where all of the cool kids hang out.
By the time Mike loaned me his own PlayStation console, a copy of Resident Evil and a demo disc containing the opening sections of Metal Gear Solid, there was no question that my allegiances had shifted. My brother agreed that PlayStation looked like a winner and, eventually, Santa came through for us.
I was a teen hellbent on being taken seriously, which probably had a lot to do with my decision to step away from the Nintendo brand that had always been there for me through childhood. PlayStation’s games and their mascots looked more mature. They were edgy. They were “adult,” which I think only heightened the console’s appeal.
From that point on, I became what you could rightfully call a PlayStation fanboy. While I’ve owned many other consoles over the years, the vast majority of my gaming time has been spent on a Sony. The original PlayStation and games like MGS, The Legend of Dragoon, and the Crash Bandicoot series helped get me through the angst-ridden years of confused teendom. And then there was the PlayStation 2, with games like Silent Hill 2, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, and Shadow of the Colossus keeping me company while I learned about love, life and all of that other emo junk during the college years.
The PlayStation game consoles were a big part of my formative years. They helped me through a lot of times when the load felt too heavy to bear. They helped me become the person I am today. It was PlayStation games that made me more interested in the industry and the people who make these games. I guess you could say that, while Nintendo taught me how to play games, the PlayStation taught me how to be a gamer.
So now I’m a grown-ass man standing on the brink of yet another console generation, pondering the known and unknown factors of the next decade of gaming. Nintendo has already shown its hand with the Wii U and, sadly, I continue to feel like it’s a gaming experience that no longer has me in mind. The social aspects are too restricted and limited, the game selection isn’t compelling and, honestly, I just can’t get fired up anymore for the umpteenth iteration of one of Nintendo’s iconic franchises.
By the time the original Xbox came out and offered a middle finger to the norms of video games, similar to what Sony had done with the PlayStation a few years prior, I was already too firmly rooted in my new console family of choice to be budged. As such, I’m not sure what Microsoft would need to do with their newest console to win me over at this point. PlayStation still feels like home, and I don’t think I’m ready to move just yet.
My faith in Sony isn’t as strong as it used to be and I don’t follow them as blindly as I did back in the day. I’m a little older and a little bit wiser these days and, thanks to this bizarre need I have to follow the industry like a bloodhound tailing a rabbit, I’ve witnessed a few too many boneheaded decisions to just throw my money at any publisher/developer, Sony or otherwise. Still, there’s little doubt in my mind where my first “next gen” dollars will be going.
Last night’s presentation on the PlayStation 4 further cemented that resolution. Again, I’m not so naive as to assume that all of those wonderful features (background downloads, video sharing, instant demos, control migration, ridiculous social features, full game streaming) will be available right out of the box. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those bells and whistles never actually make it to the console (See, I’ve learned from the past!). But the idea of a next gen console that offers creative interaction opportunities, apps and features I crave and, from the titles on display, games that are as much about unique experiences as they are about bleeding edge graphics, has me quite giddy.
For the record, I hate the term “fanboy,” if only for the negative connotations it usually carries with it. But, call it what you will, I’m a big fan of the majority of what PlayStation has offered these past 15 or so years and, yeah, I’m pretty damn excited to see what this next console truly has to offer.
About the Author:
Ryan Winslett is an Arizona-based journalist and freelance writer. He is a contributing writer for Gaming Blend and his work has also appeared on Joystiq, Gamasutra and Joystick Division. His only crime is loving too much.
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