The Road Home: PS4 And The Rebirth Of A PlayStation Fangirl

My, what a difference a generation makes.

A console generation, in the case of Sony’s PlayStation 4. After a well-crafted press event at E3, Sony’s console has even Xbox diehards peering over the fence – and me too. It took Sony’s bold offensive approach to the future of gaming to make me remember, but it all came crashing back.

I’m a PlayStation fangirl. And until this week, I had altogether forgotten myself.

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A Simpler, More Pixelated Time

Back when life was simpler and populated by considerably fewer bits, I owned a PlayStation. It wasn’t my first console (My dad bought me a Nintendo for making straight As in the first grade. Later, the Sega Genesis and I had more than a casual dalliance), but it became my special portal into the sprawling fantasy worlds that absorbed my attention in a way that my then-understimulating environment seldom did.

In 1995, Sony’s new console was a cutting edge slab of hardware. My first games were terrible and few. I spent a disproportionate amount of time playing kind of awful titles, but it didn’t matter – ESPN Extreme Games and its jerky control system had me occupied for months.

I want these hours of my life back.

WHY?

Worse, I may be the only person to have ever played Bubsy 3D – a perennial favorite on “worst video games ever made” lists – to completion, which inspired in me both a feeling of closure and a vast relief that I’d never have to look at the jagged platforms of its awkward 3D hellworld ever again.

But with the PlayStation’s hardware chops, 3D worlds were immersive in an entirely new way. Bubsy 3D was a particularly cruel embodiment of the growing pains from side-scrolling 2D gaming to 3D gaming, but something about moving around on that extra axis gripped me nonetheless.

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A thousand times yes.

In 1999, my mind was blown again. On a whim, I rented Final Fantasy VIII from the gas station that I could walk to at the front of my neighborhood. And as anyone who’s ever played a Final Fantasy title knows, it isn’t the kind of game you rent. After a bleary-eyed 48 hours with my new PlayStation gem, I reluctantly pushed it into the returns slot.

That day, my love of gaming turned a new, more mature leaf – one with more side quests and sleepless nights. From that point on, the PlayStation became synonymous with the open-world gaming that made my imagination itch.

(Further nerding: Video Game Maps: An Ode to Overworld Cartography)

A Gaming Dark Age – And A Renaissance

My love of gaming flourished for a while, but the summer before I started high school, I quit playing cold turkey. Video games didn’t seem like a thing that girls did – straight ones, anyway – so I tried to reinvest my energies elsewhere, like shuffling listlessly around the mall. That seemed more socially acceptable than obsessing over plain text online RPG strategy guides and flawlessly executed boss battles.

NEVER FORGET

NEVER FORGET

So I did normal “girl stuff,” casting sidelong, apologetic glances at my trusty PlayStation, quietly collecting dust on the shelf it’d rested on for years.

Fast forward to college. No longer boxed in by the social mores of being 16-ish, my passion for gaming was back on. I’d moved to New York for school and started dabbling in World of Warcraft after a few friends introduced me to the whole online RPG phenomenon, but my nostalgia for the PlayStation still burned bright.

By 2008, we were still dutifully playing it in our East Village apartment, wrapping up elaborate quests for rare items on rainy days when we didn’t have work or school.By winter break of my sophomore year, with falling snow turning to grayish sludge, I made my 15-block pilgrimage to the used games store on Broadway where I bought a slightly worse-for-wear PlayStation 2. My then-girlfriend and I holed up in my dorm for days on end with that thing. We never had the newest games, but we loved whatever we played.

To The Dark (Green) Side And Back Again

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By 2009, I was a full console generation behind and suddenly faced with a choice. I was a PlayStation person — PS games renewed my love in vast, imaginary worlds time and time again. But it was the seventh generation of gaming consoles, and now people were playing with and against each other, all online.

In the end, I betrayed my deep PlayStation roots and bought an Xbox 360 (as documented in a rather disgruntled holiday Autostraddle post circa 2009). All of my friends were playing on a thing called Xbox Live, and the PlayStation was a hundred bucks more expensive anyway. I bought a 360, but to this day, it’s never felt quite right. The console feels designed around shooters and Kinect-era casual games rather than the kind of epic titles, like the Final Fantasy series, that lured me in way back when.

Now, on the eve of the next-gen PS4 and Xbox One, the choice seems just as clear again. Impressed as I am the bells and whistles of Microsoft’s living room conquistador, Sony nailed it on price ($399), DRM (none) and the meat of what matters to its core gamer demographic (gaming).

I may have skipped a PlayStation generation, but from the looks of things, I should be headed home soon.


th21 100 readwrite logoThis story was originally published on ReadWrite.

ReadWrite is one of the internet’s best-respected sources for news and analysis on all things web, tech and social media. Coincidentally, it is a place where Taylor also writes things.


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Back in the day, Taylor Hatmaker was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle's tech sister site, Technostraddle, may it rest in peace. Now, Taylor writes about technology for ReadWrite.com and Entrepreneur Magazine. For Autostraddle, she writes essays, takes pictures of thing and draws comics on occasion too, if you ask real nice.

taylor has written 109 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. Thumb up 5

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    I’m really excited for the PS4. Thankfully I have an older brother who loves spending money on consoles and games :D

    As a kid I always inherited his old consoles once a new one came out. My favorite game will always be Final Fantasy X for the PS2.
    So many good memories :)

  2. Thumb up 2

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    I’ve never really understood Xbox hype…
    Far as i could tell, they broke, made you pay extra for online, then broke again. At least the was my friends experiences.

    Then with the latest stuff, despite failing to actually give pictures of the console at first, sony seemed to do everything else about it right, whilst microsoft fails and flaps around.

    Sonys ‘how to share games on ps4′ video was perfect though.

  3. Thumb up 0

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    I played Nintendo systems for years until it got to the point where all the games I wanted to play were on Xbox and Playstation so I finally had to buy one and I bought an Xbox 360 like you because most importantly it was cheaper, but also because I’ve never liked Sony. Back in the late 90s early 00s they put out weaker consoles and glutted the market with loads and loads of crap games whereas Nintendo had stronger consoles (N64,Gamecube) and high quality first and third party games. I always had to play the new Zelda, Metroid and Mario.

    Anyway, I enjoyed my Xbox for the most part but like you I’m now going to buy a PS4. Cheaper, more powerful and more open in every way. It’s a really easy decision.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    FFVIII was the shit! Everyone seems to forget about it and instead only talk about FFVII, but that stupid Faye Wong song romance saga set my little heart afire. :)
    On a super nerdy side note, if you have fond memories of that internal card game within FFVIII, someone actually made a version of it you can play online against an AI or other players: http://www.tripletriadflashonline.com/

    But back to the point, Microsoft made some really weird decisions this generation and I honestly just can’t wrap my mind around it. I think the only thing that could save them now is if the DRM games have a DRAMATICALLY lower price than the PS4’s version. That could potentially tip the scales, since even gamestop keeps their prices pretty high for most worthwhile games… But I’m talking 20-30 for a new game and that seems pretty unlikely.

  5. Thumb up 2

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    I’ve never quite seen the look of happiness on my girlfriend’s face quite like the one she had when they revealed Star Wars Battlefront at E3.

    And Mirror’s Edge 2. Of course Mirror’s Edge 2.

    And MAWWWWWIGGGGAAAANNNNNNN.

  6. Thumb up 0

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    I have owned pretty much all of the consoles at some point in my life. Every Nintendo console(as well as Gameboy), Playstation 1 and 3, Xbox and Xbox 360. I sold my PS3 a few years back because I needed the money and that thing was worth about $400 at the time but I am definitely getting the new PS4. I want to get an Xbox One because I generally prefer Xbox games(I play a lot of shooters) but Microsoft is really on some bullshit this time around. Everything I keep hearing about it makes it not want to buy it even though I’m a big Halo fan.

    Oh, and how awesome is it that we are not just getting one new Final Fantasy game this gaming season but THREE? Final Fantasy X-3:Lightening Returns, FF XIV, and FFXV. Between all those titles and the new Elder Scrolls game I will probably loose a lot of my friendships because I am not going to have time to talk to anybody.

  7. Thumb up 0

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    Well-crafted press event?

    I watch E3 with my friends as a tradition (all varying degrees of gamers) and 90% of them thought Sony event was a dud save for 3 very well-placed announcements:

    1. The console reveal (PS2 + PS2 = PS4)
    2. Square Enix’s announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy Versus XIII (renamed FF XV)
    3. The price and their used game policy (which was later clarified to be somewhat similar to MS’s policy once the developers say they want it that way)

    Other than XBOX One’s anti-rest-of-the-world vision(offering services only available in the US, their focus on sports, war and DUDEBRO games), it seems to be a good multi-media device. Between the two “cool guys” of console gaming (itself and PS4; poor Wii U, it’s just quietly doing its own thing), they appear to be offering the most “next-gen” experience.

    PS4 so far has only told me that it’s going to make prettier games and support indie developers (a wise business strategy as indie games have the capacity to become multi-million dollar enterprises, and they also fill in the spaces between giant first party titles). Telling me the specs of the system doesn’t mean anything unless the launch games fully utilise the hardware for their software. Which rarely/never happens because developers take time to learn the hardware.

    Their launch line-up looks solid but I don’t really see anything so far pulling me away from my PS3 to embrace the PS4. I didn’t see any game that made me immediately want to go out and buy this system. And Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts 3 are years ahead in the future. Though the endless amount of shooters/FPS on both consoles is a turn off. Nintendo on the other hand showed the most promising video game line-up (Mario Kart, Smash Bros, X, Bayonetta) for the Wii U system (but this console has been on the market for half a year, so they had time to get their software in order).

    PS4 is a console to eventually get, but considering that Sony wants to support the PS3 in conjunction with the PS4, I can’t see myself abandoning the previous gen yet. Not when the the PS3 is finally getting the support it needed seven, five, three years ago.

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      i definitely think the main beef i have with the Xbone is the whole DRM thing, in addition to always having to be on, in addition to the Kinect camera always having to be on and unobstructed in order for the console to work.

      that is some super creepy 1984 bullshit.

  8. Thumb up 0

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    XBOX One’s whole “always online” bullshit pretty much killed it for me.

    Also, PS4 is region-free, which is nice when you live outside the US! Many of XBOX One’s “REVOLUTIONARY NEW FEATURES” won’t even be available to me.

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    Hearts in my eyes when you mentioned FFVIII! Did you ever get to play it in full? Final Fantasy VII might be a better game and it’s certainly got more of a following now, but nothing ate my life like exploring every corner of FFVIII (three hundred hours! I am jealous of my school-age self for having that damn much time).

    I haven’t owned a TV-connected console since the original Playstation; it’s been handhelds (now an iPad) and PC/Mac gaming for me since leaving home. The strong positive reaction to the PS4’s announcement is intriguing though: if it follow through, galvanise players and get the kind of dev support the original PS had, it’ll be worth the buy.

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      It’s one of the great shames of my life that I logged around 180 hours on FFVIII and could NOT defeat the last boss. I always made my team with all of the hot chicks so I now understand that I was woefully missing a tank. I got nearly an hour into the battle so many times only to die… :(

  10. Thumb up 1

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    XBox One just has too much bullshit attached to it for me to want to it until I see what happens after launch and if they will fix some of these properties. Lets just run down all the things XBOX ONE is doing this time around. I don’t give a damn about watching sports or television on my XBox. That’s why I have cable. I want to play games. It is supposed to be a gaming console is it not? XBox One has to be online at least once a day. What if you play for a couple of days then what happens? Their used game policy is completely ridiculous. I usually buy used games because who really wants to pay $60 a pop for these things in this economy. Now I can’t do that. Kinect is always on? Why? I don’t give a shit about Kinect! There aren’t any good games for it unless you are a little kid and just really love Kinect Sports. If you actually want to let people borrow your games, which I often do to my baby brother and his friends because they can’t afford it, I can only do it once? Why? I own the damn game. I should be able to do what I want with it! And now lets talk about those games. I wasn’t impressed by most of the Xbox exclusives they announced at E3. Most of the really fun games look to be multi-platform. So for me, why not buy the PS4? It’s $100 cheaper. I can still play all of the games that actually interest me. Their DRM policy isn’t as bad. And I can let anyone I want play them. The only Xbox exclusive I really care about these days is Halo, which is probably a year and half away from being released anyway. That’s when I will get an Xbox One. By that time I’m sure the price will go down and based on the fact that Microsoft is getting a TON OF SHIT from the gaming community about their new policies I’m sure they will fix some of these issues by then anyway.

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    I’ve always been a Playstation kind of girl. I still have my Playstation 2 and play on it regularly. I hear good things about the Playstation 4, better grpahics specs, cheaper, awesome titles, etc. I don’t get what Microsoft is trying to do with the Xbox One. Are they testing their fan base? Cause what they’re doing sounds like suicide to me. As if paying $60/year for Xbox Live wasn’t enough, now you have to be connected to the internet all the time to log in every 24 hours. They want people glued to their console. It’s pretty cool that they have all this extra stuff, but honestly, who wants to be on skype and checking out tweets in the middle of a game? Plus, Kinect has to be on all the time- why? I have no idea. It’s more expensive, no used games…the Xbox One comes with a lot of bullshit attached. I’m thankful for Xbox though, because if it wasn’t for bullshit console, then Playstation would just monopolize the gaming market and then Playstation would suck. Cause let’s face it, things are looking better for Playstation than Xbox, or even Nintendo, whose Wii U sales were unimpressive. I’m going to wait before buying anything though, I want to read reviews after both consoles have been released. Things will be interesting. Anyway, what I’m super psyched about is Star Wars: Battlefront!!!! oh my gawwwwd finally.

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    FFVIII was my first Final Fantasy as well, though not my first RPG (that goes to Super Mario RPG). I always wondered if loving video games (and being born male) made me a man, but I’ve personally discovered that love of gaming has nothing to do with gender (or sexuality) beyond effective marketing.

    As for PlayStation, I’m totally sold on PS4, although I already own a Wii U. Then again, I’ve always double (or even triple) dipped on consoles.

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    I can’t even properly express how excited i am for the PS4 to come out, and how happy i will be to get it 3 months after it comes out because i didn’t have the foresight to do pre-orders. All i want to do is play all of the gorgeous indie games (see: Journey, Flower, Flow…) and their exclusives (LAST OF USSSSS).
    i grew up with PS — staying up until 4am watching my older brother play Final Fantasy 7, and being really terrible at every game i tried except Jumping Flash. It wasn’t until this latest xbox incarnation that i decided to jump the Microsoft ship and go back to a company that can actually manufacture amazing hardware and phenomenal games.

    I can’t waittttt!

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