WHERE were you on September 29. 1995? If you were like thousands of other Irish gamers – and millions more across Europe – you were lined up to buy the groundbreaking PlayStation games console. It was the moment gaming grew up.
Costing up to IR£400 depending on the bundle, it was no small purchase and a bit of a gamble – there were only a handful of games available after all. But damn, did they look good.
Titles such as Wipeout, Ridge Racer and Street Fighter dazzled with their fancy 3D graphics and thumping soundtracks.
And we lapped it up, with Sony frequently claiming that the Ireland had a higher per-capita ownership of PlayStation products that almost anywhere in the world.
Worldwide, Sony paired the launch with some edgy marketing campaigns such as the one warning people: “Do Not Underestimate the Power of PlayStation” – strongly implying this was no longer just kids’ stuff.
Think of wacky series such as (Welcome to the) Third Place, which didn’t show the PS2 at all and relied on the famous PlayStation symbols among the strange imagery of circus freaks and talking ducks.
Not that Sony gets its promotional activity always on the money. In 2007, Sony was forced to apologise when it sacrificed a goat during a launch party for its God of War II game. Having flown a bunch of thirsty journalists to Greece (the setting for the gory game), Sony overstepped the boundaries of good taste with the party featuring the decapitated goat and topless women serving grapes.
But it was a rare error in the Japanese giant’s otherwise impeccably executed efforts to position PlayStation as a lifestyle brand.
Its clever new ad effortlessly spans the last 18 years of the console wars, depicting a teenager’s bedroom through the years as he plays on various PlayStations with friends as he gets older.
Tellingly, the last sequence relates to the new PlayStation 4, due out in Ireland next month. The teen, now a man, is still living in his parents’ house.
Perhaps gaming hasn’t grown up after all.