On this fine day of September, my Facebook and Twitter feeds exploded with news of the PlayStation celebrating its 20th Anniversary. (And everyone, by the way, is Strongly Encouraged to check that link out, since the PlayStation Blog will be celebrating its big 2-0 with activities and giveaways.) I took a moment out to feel Great Shame™ at not saving the date, especially since the PlayStation – all versions of it, really – is close to my heart.
So begins the story of my life with consoles, one that eventually becomes My Shoujo Journey With PlayStation. Back when I was still a wee thing in Vancouver, most of my afternoons after school involved sitting around with another Nirvana song blowing out the play room speakers, watching my four older brothers dick around in Doom on the computer, or try to kill each other in a round of Street Fighter II on the old Super Nintendo. The SNES fascinated me, mostly because it meant that more than one person could take it for a spin at the same time. In a large family like mine where we all like to feel included in each other’s activities, that was a good thing.
The only time, however, that I started to play video games in earnest was when we bought a PlayStation (what we now call the PSX) in 1995. My parents made it a joint graduation gift between me and Older Brother Number Four (henceforth abbreviated as “Older Bro No. 4”), because conveniently he had just graduated from high school and I had graduated from grade school. The first game that I got to play was Final Fantasy VII. I still remember what it was like, at ten, to listen to that opening sequence, and descend upon the streets of Midgar.
Playing games on any console was always a collaborative experience for us. All of us siblings had a strong preference for single-player games: we had the tendency to lose interest in fighting games, racing games and other co-op experiences very quickly. What we all shared a love for, however, was a damned good story. As such, the entire lifespan of our PlayStation was drained away on RPG title after RPG title after strategy game after adventure game, with the likes of Suikoden II, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tales of Destiny, Xenogears, and Breath of Fire III becoming group experiences like no other. We’d play each other’s save files (especially when one of us managed to commit the Capital Sin of accidentally saving over somebody else’s progress), change hands on the controller whenever one of us couldn’t get past a boss fight or figure out this one puzzle, and share many a sleepless night in the common areas of the house, feelsing over particularly emotional scenes in our favorite titles. In fact, one memory that really stands out for me is the first run that us siblings ever had with Breath of Fire III. Older Bro No. 4, Younger Brother and I stayed up until sunrise in order to get through the very last sequence that you ever have of Kid!Ryu and the death of his innocence. The drama of the moment was interrupted by a cockroach flying over to casually perch on Older Bro No. 4’s shoulder, because it just had to be in on the Feelings.
The PSOne came next (the slimmer first-gen PlayStation), in the form of yet another joint graduation gift between Older Bro No. 4, me, and Younger Brother all celebrating the end of college, high school, and grade school. Because all of my older brothers were starting to get busy with Adult Life, the PSOne was left to ruin my heart, my grades, and quite possibly my social life. The PlayStation 2 (this time a reward for the website that I threw together for my father) continued this trend, especially since I could never get over the HUGE leap in graphics and gameplay that it made from its first-generation counterpart’s humble pixels and simply-toned music. Few things compare to that first moment where you saw the winds of Spira wash over grasslands that look so real that you almost want to reach through the screen and touch it, or the “be still, my beating heart” hitch of admiring Solid Snake’s beautifully rendered ass (or Raiden’s impossibly pale naked butt) shaking itself just for you on your screen…
I was probably one of the last gamers ever to get on the PlayStation 3. I spent the entirety of my college existence slugging it out on the PS2, juggling the drama llama that is university life with the occasional table top session, and having a good run in the Versus TCG and Mechwarrior strategy game scenes down in Metro Manila. Like all of the other PlayStations before it, the arrival of the PS3 marked a milestone in my life. Unlike all of the other PlayStations before it, however, the PS3 was something I acquired all on my own. And what a machine it was, given that once again, it was a huge departure from its predecessors.
(Cough, cough, boobs and ass in HD all day erryday, cough.)
While there aren’t a lot of titles that I ended up sharing with the rest of my brothers in the same way that we used to, the story of the PS3 in my life is definitely a continuing story of two siblings. At least half of the titles that I have at home were completed through a joint effort between me and the Younger Brother Unit, and each one always ended in a long session of processing imaginary feelings over cigarettes. Family car rides and drinking sessions still end up devolving into discussions on the finer points of this or that franchise, and recalling the best clusterfucks we’ve had in our gaming lives. We’ve both shared a lot of geeky things together, but the rest of our experiences are rather transient in comparison to all of our console stuff.
On another note, more of my defining moments as a geek were definitely found through my experiences with the PS3, especially since I now hope to be an active member of the scene, either as a fandom studies scholar or as an actual producer of games for other people to play in the future. Case in point: three of my six years of teaching Literature 13 at Ateneo de Manila University always had 2-3 weeks devoted to me lugging my PS3 around campus three days in a week, and letting my students play Heavy Rain together.
TL;DR: families that play video games together stay together, and I have a lot of Feelings over PlayStation Things that I insist on sharing with everyone.
Within this month, I’ll have enough money to buy a PlayStation 4. I’ve got my eyes set on that Limited Edition unit for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. My PlayStation 3 is currently on loan to a fellow MGS fan who never got to play Metal Gear Solid IV due to the evils of platform exclusivity. I miss it, though, in between the madness of tabletop and online roleplaying and good old Adult Existence. PlayStation Anything has been a constant presence in my life. I’m looking forward to returning to my roots really, really soon.