Waverly dance
Monday, March 19, 2007
The Playstation Ideal

The old infomercials of the 1950s raved about how product X could slice, dice, chop, juice, and if need be, pick up your dry cleaning and bathe your dog too. Back then, baby boomers reveled in the victory of war, and wanted to live the life of affordable luxury, which was roughly translated into convenience. The more that could be done with less was the standard of modern living.

Today, we demand our technologies to simply be capable of so much more. A cell phone can't merely take calls; it requires a web browser, video player, GPS tracking and a music player. And if said cell phone doesn't have a digital camera, it might as well be used as a doorstop. The electronics we use today are either convenient or obsolete. And unlike the puritan 1950s, it isn't luxury that dictates the efficiency of our devices, it's time, or lack thereof.

Now, somewhere between the 1950s and today, home video game systems boomed in popularity and accessibility. And for a good 15 years, your video game system was good for playing video games and nothing else. Insert game, turn on, play game, shut off: a fairly simple concept.

Then the Sony Playstation came.

The genesis of the Playstation was that it was supposed to accept new Sony designed video games and Nintendo classic cartridges. In other terms, it would be able to play both kinds of games. The Sony/Nintendo marriage eventually fell apart, but Sony did keep something from the divorce proceedings: an idea.

That idea was to create a single unit that could perform a variety of functions. In the case of the Playstation, Sony realized that the popularity of the music CD was at an all time high (this was 1994), that video games on CD would yield higher quality games, and that DVD movies were just around the corner. One unit that could play all three formats would enhance the gaming experience not for convenience or for time, but for convergence.

If video game players never had to abandon their Playstation in order to listen to their favorite CD or watch a movie, then Sony has that gamer's complete attention, and that the gamer is completely reliant on the Playstation for all his basic entertainment needs: watching, playing and listening. The Playstation, when launched, instantly transformed the idea of the entertainment centre. Instead of a multitude of wires, cables and connections, one tiny console could do it all. It could slice, dice, chop, puree and more.

That big bang set off this era of everything in one. The internet, once thought to only be accessed by phone line, is now available on a Blackberry that can also play music, create presentations, keep track of important dates and maybe even handle a phone call or two. Video game systems are now conduits for downloading movies and cell phones are libraries of information. Everything does everything and is capable of doing everything else too. And where did all this modern technological unity begin?

That's right, with the Sony Playstation.

There once was a time where cell phones received and made calls only. When televisions only projected programs. When video games provided gaming entertainment and nothing else. Where there wasn't one appliance that could whip, flip and nip. An era where there was just one tool for one job. Those days are long gone.

We have become so accustomed to having all this technology at our fingertips that we forget the dark ages where things weren't as automatic and as accessible as they are today. In terms of technology, the dark era ended when the Sony Playstation was born.

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