Reflecting on two years of Home

By NorseGamer, HSM Editor-in-Chief

What does PlayStation Home mean to you?

When you think of Home, what emotions or experiences come to mind?

Amazing to realize that Home just celebrated its two-year anniversary. Even more astonishing to think of just how much Home has evolved in the last year alone. Remember the egregiously long loading times? The old navigator format? Heck, just pause for a moment and consider how much new content was introduced into Home in the last twelve months. Both in terms of infrastructure and entertainment, Home is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was twelve months ago.

But this is all window dressing. Home is not, as some contend, “just a game.” Home is a living, breathing virtual reality. It’s the human element, not the gaming element, which is at the core of Home’s addictive nature.

Any fan-journalism project devoted to Home can commentate on what Sony announces on its blog. All the shiny bells and whistles. And yes, that’s fine. But HSM has a different approach:

We don’t care about the shiny new toys and features. We care about how they make you feel.

So: what does Home mean to you?

I think, perhaps, it’s time for a more personal article.

Here’s what Home means to me:

I was never the popular kid at school. I’m not blessed with a lantern jaw or innate athletic ability. My fashion sense is in no way trendy. I was a bookworm with mousy brown hair and a taste for science-fiction. I’m not much good at making small talk, and I’d prefer the company of nature and books to the capricious and specious harshness of other people. Over the decades, I’ve done what I could to compensate — learned (and taught) martial arts, played a ton of sports, and generally tried to “fit in.”

Except I don’t. And that’s painfully obvious.

I’m now a grown adult in my thirties with two college degrees and a successful  career. But to a large extent I still feel like a geeky suburban beta-male kid watching my favorite cartoons while waiting for dinner. With chocolate milk.

A friend of mine commented that you have to be slightly damaged in some way to find Home so addictive. Who knows. Maybe he’s right. But here’s why Home is special to me:

In real life, I’m very uncomfortable trying to make casual conversation. I’m not great on my feet. I’m not particularly suave, witty or at ease. If it’s business, I’m in my element. If it’s chit-chat, you might as well talk to my cat. Yet on Home, everything’s inverted: he who is the most interesting to read is the winner. And in a world of text bubbles with acronym salad (for the love of god, STOP TYPING “lol” AT THE END OF EVERY SENTENCE!), absolutely horrific grammar, casual rudeness and a general lack of enculturation, I suddenly have the advantage.

On Home, you are actually rewarded socially for being able to communicate with the written word in a literate, intelligent, properly-punctuated manner. People seek you out and want to hang out with you. Girls find you interesting. People compliment you for not dressing like a thug who just got out of prison.

And here’s the best part: when some doorknob in a tank top, baggy trousers and a bandanna comes up to me and tries to tear me down, accusing me of being gay, insulting my method of communicating…I get to mute him.

Oh. Hell. Yes. I’ll take “The Penis Mightier” for $500, Alex.

Home is special to me because it lets me have a social life.

My ex-wife was a social butterfly. She loved to go party, have fun, and mingle. To her, Home was a minor amusement. It was, to her, “just a game.”

Not to me.

I have a successful business career, but I have no life. Home gives me confidence to be social. No anxiety. No awkwardness. Home is my comfort zone. On Home, I can go to a discotheque and dance like John Travolta. I can surround myself with people and not be uncomfortable. Home hits dopamine pleasure centers of my brain that have long been dormant.

Home lets me be the popular kid on the playground. On Home, I get to have the last laugh at the bullies and jocks. Frankly, Home lets me put to rest a lot of the demons I’ve carried since I was a child.

That’s why Home is special to me. And why I’ve invested a considerable sum of money into it. Some of you reading this perhaps might think that this is rather sad: that I should go get a life. I would counter that we all geek out over something. Picture someone who follows a particular group, buys their merchandise, dresses up like them, and attends regular gatherings all over the country to support them.

Did I just describe your typical anime/video game geek? Or did I describe an NFL football fan? Or a rock band fan?

See what I mean? We all geek out over something. For me, it’s Home. Home lets me have a life.

…Wow. That was all quite hard to write, actually.

So, we now come full-circle, back to the original question: what does Home mean to you? I’d genuinely like to know. Because that, to me, is interesting. Not the gee-whiz new features, items and spaces. Not the incessant procession of new mini-games. The community. This is a community that interests me, because it’s a community I can be a part of, and hopefully give back to with this magazine.

What does Home mean to you?

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