Sony’s recent advertising drive for all things Playstation in Japan used to strike me as somewhat misguided. People faces as the play PS3 or PSP, in horrible high definition close up. I thought of my own time playing. How, for the most part, my reactions are reserved for well into a games experience, after becoming invested in the activity. I knew the players, these ‘faces’, would have only a short time to play their game. I imagined the bored and confused expressions that most would sport.
When the campaign launched these bored individuals were nowhere to be seen. Those on show were thankfully not average players with their faces stretched to fill my TV. Thankfully saved from the HD horrors of acne covered teens, I gratefully welcomed the close ups of handsome/beautiful celebrities as they overacted their way through games.
Then the cynic in me welled up. While the whole “Playface” campaign may appeal to this idol obsessed culture, to me it just seemed like the most blatant exploitation off both the talent involved and the audience. No product was shown, only the faces of melodramatic media personalities, hamming it up, to sell product to adoring fans by supposedly play a Sony system.
Then the other day I happened across one of Sony’s ‘caravans’. These are stages that are touring the country and offering the public a chance to put on their “Playface”. More for the novelty than anything else I decided to give it a go. After filling out a form and picking my game I was forced in to an overly warm booth to play (imagine a black public toilet… but with a plasma television in it). Cameras, embedded in every wall, surrounded me. They were laid out in a way that made me feel like I was being watched by four massive spiders.
I played Tekken 6. After three minutes they kicked me out and gave me stickers of my expressionless face.
I forgot about it until yesterday when I got an email from Sony telling me my face was ‘up’ so I visited their site and had my opinion of the whole exercise totally changed. Thousands of faces, including my own, are on the site. Many young adults, posing and exaggerating for the camera in an attempt to garner favour in the voting (imagine “Hot or Not” for otaku) but others were children. Seeing their faces fill with joy and wonder at playing took me back to how I must have looked when my Dad used to take me to the arcade to play Atari’s Star Wars game.
It made me happy. I could see Sony’s thinking, because for all my cynicism I could see the children weren’t faking. They were in awe. It is a feeling I now realize I have lost, but it is what got me into gaming and to see it in others makes me remember just why, to this day, I love my hobby so much.
Thank you Sony for showing me this joy again, and giving me the opportunity to always vote for the children over the vein young adults. Now kindly take your celebrities from my TV set.