Rory Galvin reminisces on a long forgotten social game
If you still remember PlayStation Home, I think you should qualify for some kind of gamer’s veteran discount. For those unaware, this game was more of a social platform for gamers all around the world to play and chat with each other. This type of game is definitely more popular today: just look at titles like Roblox, VRChat and Rec Room. PlayStation Home was exactly that for people like me on the PlayStation 3. It was fun, had plenty of quirks, and was unfortunately shut down almost ten years ago.
Everybody started the game in the exact same place; after making yourself an avatar you find yourself in Harbour Studio, a personal apartment. Here, you could decorate it with furniture, invite people over, or just go out on the balcony and relax. For me, it was love at first sight. You don’t start out with much, and, as a free-to-play game, there were plenty of things you could spend your money on. Once I placed my free couches, stools and chairs - I could visit the virtual shopping centres to browse what was on sale. The whole game is littered with public plazas you could join. A lot of the time I just loved standing in one spot (usually the LittleBigPlanet world) wearing my Audi sponsored t-shirt doing the Cabbage Patch while digital people watching. Most of the free items were advertisements for other games and products, so I usually looked like a walking billboard.
I had this little chatpad attachment that clipped to the bottom of my DualShock 3 so I could talk with the speed of a 10 year old on a BlackBerry
There was always somewhere new to go, new clothes to look at, new games to play and new people to chat with. The games were never that special, but you could play bowling, chess and even F-Zero style racing all for free. I remember one survival horror game that I was never brave enough to try out. I had this little chatpad attachment that clipped to the bottom of my DualShock 3 so I could talk with the speed of a 10 year old on a BlackBerry - I got pretty decent with it. There was definitely this idea of stranger danger drilled into me from my mum, but I did my best to make friends without giving out my address. The main issue I had was the loading times. With a 20mb per second download speed on a good day, and the amount of stuff that had to be loaded on the PS3, you would spend a lot of your time waiting. I’m sure if the game was around today, it would benefit from our faster broadband.
(This is the part where I surprise you).
A small group of dedicated fans have actually brought PlayStation Home back to life, but it’s not quite ready yet. It’s too complicated for me to even understand, but from collecting donated data from everyone’s games, they have been able to piece together everything that made the platform work and bring it back online. It’s called Destination Home, and I was ecstatic when I heard of it. Some day, I look forward to wiping the dust off my PS3 and playing again.