“Have you experienced lockdown a bit too much? Are you looking for that key social experience you won’t get anywhere else? Well, come to Home where you find your home and talk to random strangers on the internet in a more professional and well-mannered way.”
This edition of No Place Like Home features Kieren, a filmmaker and content creator on YouTube who has a lot to say about PlayStation Home.
Take It From the Top
“Obviously the Home icon was in the hotbar and I was like ‘Go and customize my character? I like that, that’s cool.’ And then explore areas, discover game areas from some of my favorite games, this is great. It was really, it’s just fun to explore it. That’s the fun part of it.”
PlayStation Home, being free and accessible on the PS3, allowed Kieren to get involved in online gaming.
“I had both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 and I wanted to go online and play with my friends on the 360 but it was paid and back then my parents were like ‘No we’re not paying for some play subscription’.
When Kieren started playing, he enjoyed being able to customize his character, but he was also hooked by the community experience. That was one of the core aspects of Home, but also “getting rewards and things like that”. If you remember Home at all, you’ll be familiar with receiving goodies for participating in certain activities or visiting certain spaces. One of Kieren’s favorite things to do in Home was to collect as many personal spaces as he could.
“I didn’t want a personal apartment that was the default. And then trying to get the Audi one was a nightmare. I remember looking up a YouTube video trying to figure out how to do it!”
One of Kieren’s Favorite Memories
We asked Kieren to tell us about his favorite Home memory. While he said he could name a few, he recalled his experience with a PlayStation Home “fam”, families or clans within Home composed of groups of players with similar interests. This memory starts the way any good story starts: in the Star Wars cantina.
“There was always the most unusual people there that I loved to talk to. And I got recruited somehow, don’t know how I did, but I got recruited by that clan and I was like ‘Alright now I’m here’.”
And then things got weird. Like 8 Mile in a Star Wars Cantina weird.
“And we started having this battle in the middle of the cantina and all these people would just walk through the door and we all got up and it was like a gang turf war or something. You had one group here and one group there and they would just start shit-talking each other like back and forth and then doing the custom animations. And I was like ‘What the hell is going on’ and it was the most amazing thing and the most crazy.”
The whole thing really was reminiscent of a rap battle.
“I remember we were on the dance floor and there was this one guy and you could see him and it was like the Facebook messenger thing where you see the bubbles and it goes away and then there’s bubbles again and then it goes away. And it’s like that for ten minutes and I’m like just say something!”
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
A favorite space of Kieren’s was the Godfather area. It was one of those spaces he had to be invited to, so getting there really was an accomplishment and a rabbit hole of its own. It set him on a “weird adventure” where he ended up betraying his own clan.
“There was one time I had there…back in the day, I don’t know how but I betrayed my own clan. Every time I hopped to a different space they would follow me in crowds and I was like ‘Aha! I’ll go to the secret space! Where you can only be invited!’ Pablo Escobar sort of scenario.”
The Same, But Different
We asked Kieren what he would want to remain the same in Home if it comes back on the PlayStation 5 and what he’d want to be different.
“Most of it I’d want to stay the same. I would want more events. See, you know how you have gaming events like E3, Games Con, stuff like that, more gaming celebration. Imagine you go into the Home Square and it’s Octoberfest and you’d have a bunch of stalls with different horror games you could walk up and play. And it’d be streamed as well because of PS Now! I think that would be really engaging.”
This is definitely an aspect a new Home would be wise to capitalize on to really make it a hub for gamer culture. Gathering players together to celebrate new releases and to relay pertinent information about the industry would help Home provide value to the entire community.
Kieren would also like Home to try to recreate certain game experiences within the platform. He used the Siren Lounge as an example:
“I would like more stuff like the Siren Lounge because you do have official game spaces like Resident Evil 5 and Uncharted, but it would be cool if they tried to recreate the game experience inside Home. And then towards the end of the experience it could say ‘Hey, check out the actual game!’”
The Siren Lounge did a great job of attracting players to the actual game it was representing. Before playing the mini-game, many players didn’t know what Siren was, including Kieren. After experiencing it in Home, Kieren decided to check it out for himself! A new Home could capitalize on this and allow players to see if they like the vibe of a game before committing to a purchase, or even allowing them to become aware it exists in the first place.
Let’s Talk Metrics of Success
Kieren offered us his vision of success for PlayStation Home on the PlayStation 5.
“In the gamers’ eyes, it would be successful if there was a solid player base and if it was mostly the same as the PS3 version but obviously more enhanced with the VR features and a bunch more added-in content. In PlayStation’s eyes, it’d be great as an advertising tool. Again, it’s a way more engaging advertising tool and you have things like E3, which I referenced in the BBC video, as well. E3 was cancelled this year so you don’t have that attention, but if you have an online event like that in the game, it would bring way more attention. It would be successful.”
Turning heads with an option to attend a virtual E3 is certainly a strong concept, one that Kieren compared to BlizzCon. If PlayStation wanted to profit off of one of these online expos, they could charge an entry fee for a virtual ticket like BlizzCon does!
Potential for Content Creation
With the rise of streaming and content creation platforms, we wanted to get Kieren’s perspective, as a content creator, on how Home could synergize with this part of the community.
“The thing with that is streamers usually interact with their audience via Discord or stuff like that. There’s a lot of streamers I know that stream exclusively through the PlayStation 4. They could organize a group meeting or group gathering like ‘Come to Home Square’ and they could meet fans and everything. Voice chat, talk to each other. It would be way more engaging for people who want to do fan meetups but don’t actually want to do fan meetups. Especially with the lockdown.”
What Home Is to Kieren
For Kieren, Home was an opportunity to break out of his shell.
“Back in the day, I was more shy than I am today. I think it helped me with a lot of my social skills. The social aspect was the main mechanic of the game so it definitely helped me out there. It will always hold a special place in my heart. Definitely.”
Here is a message that Kieren would like to deliver to PlayStation. So, straight from him, here’s what he has to say.
“In the light of this year, I think it’s apparent how disconnected people can become very quickly. Giving people an alternative during a time like that, and even for people in general when they’re indoors, can give them a comfort zone which they don’t have in the real world. I think that’s really important for gamers and that was important for what Home was back then. So definitely right now is a great time to bring back a platform like Home. One hundred percent. One hundred percent. One thousand percent. Give it to me.”