“One of the biggest things that I’ve taken from it was, overall, my own experience with identity. I found my identity through games like PlayStation Home.”
This edition of No Place Like Home features Nico, a Twitch streamer, artist, and fellow PlayStation Home user that was able to use PlayStation Home to express her true identity.
Where It Started
Nico was at a co-worker’s house when she first discovered PlayStation Home. She, herself, didn’t have a PlayStation 3, but was allowed to explore the console with her friend who helped turn her onto PlayStation Home.
“We turned on PlayStation Home and right away I was like “this is the coolest thing”. Something I’m really into is virtual reality, virtual spaces.”
One of the first spaces Nico remembers encountering there was the Konami Penthouse, where she embodied the nature of a true Homester. More specifically, she spent some time doing the “running man”.
“I was doing the dancing running man thing and I just thought it was the coolest thing. I hold that memory because it was the start of something much bigger.”
Home was actually a key reason Nico decided to purchase a PlayStation 3 in the first place. Similar sentiments have been expressed regarding the upcoming PlayStation 5. Home or bust!
“It was definitely a selling point for the platform itself. I had the PS2 and it wasn’t built for PlayStation Home and seeing that a virtual world was built into the system, I had to buy a PS3. It was a need.”
What Kept Nico Coming Back
Nico racked up plenty of hours on PlayStation Home for one simple reason.
“It was an escape. Regardless of what year it is and what’s going on in the world…yeah, the graphics outside are bomb but the gameplay is not there. The real world isn’t as great, and virtual reality is so cool.”
She’s right, the graphics outside are some of the best we’ve ever seen but reality doesn’t have that “ideal” feel to it. Nico loved being able to have an entire wardrobe, enjoy the luxuries of a mansion, or even have friends over on her yacht with whales and dolphins bursting from the ocean.
“It’s appealing to me. I can do so much without having to lift a finger, barely.”
Nico also believes that games companies don’t quite understand how they could utilize their virtual spaces for better purposes.
“Any of these gaming companies that have a hold of a virtual world: I don’t think they know how to utilize it. Home was in beta from birth to death. You have all these games that seem to never reach their full potential. What are you doing with it?”
Home’s Impact on Nico
Nico believes Home was the one place PlayStation users could be together.
“PlayStation Home meant something to people. I would stay awake and share stories and be in the company of friends, hanging out at the beach. We’d show off our outfits and say ‘Look what I got’ when we were expressing ourselves. There are just so many memories and so many meaningful moments people share. It was a place to feel together.”
While Nico loved the community aspect of Home, the important part of her experience was the way she could express herself. As a trans woman, identity was something Nico had to come to grips with. Home gave her the space to not only engage with others, but to explore herself.
“When I started playing PlayStation Home, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know much. But you had such an arsenal of creativity. It didn’t lock you behind one character or gender, you had access to male assets, female assets, and I would always interchange.”
Yes, Home gave Nico the outlet to express herself in any way she chose, but it also helped confirm the feelings she had about her identity. People inside of Home reassured her, stating that when she typed to them, she expressed herself in a feminine way. Even when she didn’t understand her identity, Home was there for her to craft it. But simply being in an online space didn’t shield Nico from a few critics.
“I used the female avatars more and more and when people started asking for details about me in real life, it was often contradictory to what they thought I was and they’d get upset. And I’d feel offended that they were attacking my identity.”
While some people were less understanding of this, Nico still believes Home was vital to her formation as a woman comfortable in her own skin.
“I had room to express myself and I didn’t need to change anything about me physically or anything. I was able to play around and learn who I was, and I owe a lot of that to PlayStation Home.”
Recreating Home, However She Can
When Home came to an end, Nico was heartbroken. But she also felt grateful to be able to send it off.
“When it ended, I felt blessed to even be there for the end. I wasn’t there at the beginning but I was there at the end. Home was my home. It was such a weird moment for me because I didn’t have Home anymore.”
Now, without that creative outlet that served as a “Home away from home”, she set out to find a “home away from Home”. She’s been able to achieve this goal in a unique way. As an artist, Nico enjoys digitally recreating Home spaces in other games. Check out this picture of her work recreating Central Plaza in the Sims 4!
In another social game, she has the ability to make even more detailed creations, many from memory, and some from video references.
Her work is amazing and is all the proof you need of the passion she has in her heart for PlayStation Home. We’re looking forward to seeing more of these recreations as she progresses!
Nico has a heartfelt message for PlayStation, a polite request for a return to the place she called home.
“Sony, you’re breaking my heart kid. I don’t know what is going on behind the scenes that’s keeping you from diving back into PlayStation Home but the audience is there. The people that are into it are into it and I talk about it so often. I’ve gotten several of my friends to log in and they had a blast on it. You just gotta give it back to us. It’s such a great platform for creativity and advertisements. You have your blockbuster games and everything and if you want me to be more invested, put it in Home. In PlayStation Home, everything is connected and that’s what we want.
It’s not just a virtual space, it’s an experience. That magic in a bottle: Sony had it and I’m sure they could capture it again. Realize what you have, take that potential and move along with it. Move forward with it. Move over those obstacles that are holding you back from putting it back out there. People will log in and spend their money and time. It’s an experience. You are trying to immerse yourself in a way to connect with people. That is so important right now. Give us PlayStation Home. We want PlayStation Home back, please.”