In September of 1995, Sony Entertainment Network launched its most famous creation on the Western market: the PlayStation.
After an initial period of diffidence from gamers, Sony’s product began selling millions of units, becoming mainstream in the process.
Regardless, rumors about the power and technical features of this new video game machine immediately started to circulate, thus generating huge social hype.
I knew and owned home computers, but that was a completely different thing.
They called it “console”, I had never heard that word before.
A friend of mine explained me the difference: “Home computer = programs and games. Console = only games allowed”.
I later discovered that there were already other consoles from other brands, but that is another retro story.
May of ’96 came and most of my schoolmates would say: “I cannot wait for school to end. I will play all summer with my brand new PlayStation. My parents promised me one as a graduation gift. ”
In June, that hopeful sentence had been replaced by a direct question: “Where to buy a PlayStation?”
The “PS bug” had already spread and it was now impossible to stop… Everybody wanted the latest high-tech gizmo, but only a few could afford it. Not to mention that, at some point such console went out of stock.
Guess what! My friends and me “unhealthily”carried that bug and we did anything we could even if just to see and touch that magic grey plastic box made by Sony.
Below is the first of two of the funniest retro stories that took place in that unforgettable Summer.
I will publish the second one in my next post. Enjoy and stay tuned!
My neighbour Christian was an unusual guy.
I would not call him an unpleasant person, but he certainly struggled to make friends and when in a group, he used to remain aloof and rarely spoke.
All of that suddenly changed when we happened to know that he had just got that magic grey box. His outcast status was quickly replaced by a “cool dude” label and his popularity skyrocketed.
From the shy, uninteresting individual he was, he became “the one who has and knows where to buy a PlayStation”.
This fact alone meant a lot of things:
1. Christian was much smarter and more informed than he seemed.
2. He had definitely a flair for persuasion, since his parents were not particularly rich, nor were they particularly into technology.
3. Last but not least, he was having a lot of fun with his brand new console and we wanted to be part of it. 😀
Simulated reality – our new hero’s tales
After finding out he was a proud PS owner, we would harass him with questions on a daily basis.
He was not bothered one bit, though. On the contrary, he was more than eager to tell us about his wonderful gaming adventures in detail.
He mentioned incredible worlds, sublime games, stunning graphics, flawless gameplay etcetera, etcetera…
By a wide margin, his best claim was: “Forget about arcade games, it is all about simulated reality now. It is all too true, too true! ”
– in hindsight, I can say that his descriptions were “slightly” exaggerated. 😀 –
Moreover, in that very moment every video game store in the city had indefinitely sold PlayStations out, so we also used to ask him where he had bought his.
Unlike his gaming adventures tales though, he would back down from telling us where he had purchased his beloved console. Anytime we asked, he systematically replied that he had forgotten to ask his father. I guess he was afraid to lose his “only PS kid on the block – smarter than he looks” status. 😀
To go or not to go: this is the question – A gaming agreement
After a couple of weeks, we eventually got tired of his excuses and asked him to invite us to his house to play those fantastic games.
Unsurprisingly, he was not enthusiastic about it but nonetheless, he accepted. He set some bizarre conditions, though:
2. The session would last no more than 60 minutes.
3. We were not to tell anyone what we were going to see.
Despite our irresistible urge to play, we took a few days to agree to his conditions. The problem was to determine whom would go first… Honestly, such conditions had scared us a bit. 😀
In the end, the chosen one was Alexander, that is, the biggest guy in our group of friends. We picked him so that in the event of problems, he would have had a bigger chance to knock Christian out and run away. 😀
Play by Play… Station – the shortest gaming session ever
On that fateful day, as Christian let our friend in, we stood outside his house. In case of danger, we were ready to go into action.
Actually, the session barely lasted 3 minutes and Alexander left Christian’s house hurling insults at him.
There was no need to ask him what happened. He shouted:
“Not only is Christian strange, he is also crazy! I went into his bedroom and it was semi-dark… I asked him for explanations and he replied that semi-darkness helped him focus. After that, he turned his PlayStation on and inserted a pinball game CD in his console. Would you believe it? He had to create the right atmosphere to play a pinball game! (The yet fun game was “Extreme Pinball”, see right. Ed.)
I tried to touch the joypad, but he grabbed it before I could even touch it. He said he did not even allow his parents to touch his PlayStation or its accessories!”
After that, Alexander took a little pause. He was visibly beyond himself and looked around in disbelief. We knew the best was yet to come, so we urged him to go on. He nodded, took a deep breath and added with even more anger: “When he told me that, my natural reaction was asking him what I was going to use to play.
He went: ‘But you are not going to play, you are here to watch me play. Look how quick I am with the flippers! And I can nudge, you know? I can perfectly nudge, no way I am going to tilt the pinball!’ ”
We were all baffled, but we just could not help burst out laughing.
Now calmer, Alexander made one last remark: “Mates, if this is the effect a PlayStation has on people, We had better go to the theater. If you ask me, Christian wants to create a cult, a CULTSTATION!” That definitely killed us! 😀
Needless to say, the outcast’s status had come full circle: from hero to zero.
Laughter legacy – A CultStation is for life
Our first gaming attempt had been utterly unsuccessful, but we bent over in laughter. Definitely not a bad payback.
Plus, we were not going to stop for any reason. It turned out we had lost a battle, but we were confident we would win the gaming war.
My wise friend Luke – mark his name for Part 2 – hit the nail on the head. He went: “You know what mates? If every loss is like today’s, we will never really lose. On the contrary, we will walk away with a bunch of fun and priceless memories of our youth.”
More than 20 years have passed, yet we just need to say “Pinball” or “CultStation” in order to re-ignite laughter. And this is just a small portion of our teenage memories.
By the way, Christian is in excellent health and has started a family, but he is still a little bit… Tilted at us. 😀
(To be continued… Do not miss part 2!)