Sony Computer Entertainment has announced that PS3 users will have to “wait a bit longer” to get a taste of virtual world PlayStation Home, with an open beta not expected to begin until fall 2008.
If you don’t know what PlayStation Home is, you may be better off not knowing. Still, I felt it necessary to give my opinions on the comments page. Basically, I’m sick of proprietary, incompatible visions of the future trying to tear each other apart, and I’m sick of companies drooling joyfully at the prospect of controlling the social lives of all teenage America. Let’s get serious and establish some common platforms, or we’re all sunk.
Here’s my comment:
I’m really afraid of Home. Instead of giving us the tools to make our own virtual worlds, it looks like they’re going to be nickel-and-diming us for everything we want to do, and then plastering the fake world with corporate sponsors. No thanks.
I’m just afraid of the precedent it sets. It seems like corporations are rushing to get us to subscribe to _their_ virtual world, at the exclusion of all others, so they can milk us on advertising and the sale of “virtual” goods, that they have a monopoly on. It’s a bleak vision of the future, were companies compete to foist incompatible, proprietary utopias upon us, spending far into the red in hopes of eventually gaining complete control of our online time. Sony controls a lot, but they can’t control reality… and it seems like that’s what they want.
I know that’s kind of paranoid, but hey… look at how much the average teenager’s social activity goes through MySpace or Facebook. I’m afraid of giving one organization that much power, and it seems like the hip thing to try to do these days. The Internet was a collaboration, it wasn’t exclusively owned by anybody, and that’s why it was a success. Instead of venturing outside these tiny corporate courtyards into the wider marketplace of ideas, it seems like companies are determined to keep online social spaces in their infancy by fighting tooth and nail to impose their unique and incompatible vision of the future on us. It just makes me mad.
Obviously, the problem could be self-correcting: Home’s prospects of commercial success are as bleak as the theme of a sterile corporate overworld it promotes. Still, I’m uncomfortable with it seeping into our videogames. It’s anti-competitive, anti-consumer, and above all, anti-human.