Saturday, March 21, 2009

Five Things I Learned About Playstation Home

There's been a lot of to-do about Playstation Home these days, and exactly how many PS3ers are actually logging on to Playstation's attempt to merge the narcissistic thrill of creating a Mii with the empowerment fantasy of Warcraft with the creepy consumerism of Second Life. Five million have joined, but does anybody actually hang out?

I decided to overcome my crippling fear of anything resembling Second Life and check out P3's digital realm from corner to corner. Here are the five most interesting things I learned.

5. Someone Had a Lot of Fun Turning Resident Evil 5 Into Universal Studios

When you log into Resident Evil 5 World, not only do you get to take your Home avatar on a sightseeing tour of the first level, you get to pretend you're on on the game's  actual"set", complete with director's chairs, lights, scaffolding, and gigantic green screens.  Artificial artiface....we media studies nerds love this crap.
This is an awesome idea.  I wish they would take it even further, with zombie extras walking around half in costume, drinking coffee and eating off of craft service tables.  What if they had a NPC Chris Redfield walking around, out of character, and you could line up and take your picture with him?  Also there should be a snack stand.  Basically, I just really like Universal Studios, and I would like to see it pulled even further in that direction.  Some sort of water rollercoaster would also be cool.

4. Lots of People Use This Thing as a Dating Sim

I saw so many people on avatar-dates. It's scary how easily people can transfer stereoyptical social interaction, like hanging out at a mall, into a virtual setting. In the main plaza of home, there's a movie theater you can enter to watch trailers for terrible movies, like Knowing. While looking around the theater, I saw a boy and a girl sitting down in seats, watching the trailers, and chatting to each other about their feelings and stuff. I also saw another couple seemingly in a fight, perhaps on the verge of breaking up.  The guy was apologizing a lot, I'll say that much.  

It's all well and good to date a computer character, but my question is; why would you conduct your internet relationship in a public place, where any 12 year old nerd can interrupt your deep emotional conversation by humping your leg or breakdancing in the six inches of space between you and your sweetie? I guess what I'm saying is, get a room, people.

3. Red Bull Land Has A Terrorist Training Program!

The Red Bull world is a nice place - it's a beautiful sunlit island with a boardwalk surrounding a lovely white beach that you can't actually walk on.  You can also rent a Red Bull glider and race the pros around this tropical paradise. Or if competition isn't your thing, you can veer off the course and crash you plane into the public square in a magnificent fireball, over, and over, and over again. Surely I am not the only person who thought to do this.

2. There Are Way Too Many Options For Character Creation

I am something of an artiste when it comes to creating avatars. All my friends come to me to design their Miis, or their Rock Band characters, or their Xbox Guys, or whathaveyou. But the character creator in Home is freaking out of control. You can basically make a near photo-realistic CG model of yourself, if you feel like spending 45 minutes to do so. And once you do, what then? Do you really want to see a scarily accurate version of yourself running around the uncanny valley, bumping into walls and getting leg-humped by people wearing street fighter costumes? I certainly don't. Besides, gamers have enough trouble drawing the line between the real and unreal. This is going to make people jump out some windows.

1. Home Is A Soulless Dystopia

What does one's life consist of in Home? Looking at placid bodies of water, staring up at towering white architecture plastered with ads, buying things for your apartment, and having short conversations with other CG people, and trying not to stare too hard into their cold, lifeless eyes.

So that's my impression of Home. Some hits, some misses. The level of tolerability of any online community usually depends on the median IQ of the people who inhabit it, and the people I saw on Home struck me as surprisingly polite (saw almost no griefers or heavily censored text balloons) and not too set on making waves, adding to the overall dystopian effect. There is definitely a lot of room for home to become much more interesting and much more creepy, and I don't doubt it will get there. Just don't get hooked by buying pretend yuppie furniture and clothes with real money. You will be tempted. Resist.

1 comment:

Degan said...

Heh, made me think of this penny arcade comic a while back: