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Hardships From PlayStation History – Part 1

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in the olden days? I don’t just mean, like, last year. I mean long, long ago, in an ancient era before the PlayStation 3 was out – not even in Japan! Back in those days many of the comforts and conveniences that you and I take for granted just didn’t exist, and daily gaming life was filled with hardship. Play has teamed up with a group of historians, university professors and men with beards to bring you this three-part account of what life might have been like for a PlayStation gamer in the year 1995, which was in the last century, which means it was a hundred years ago. Read it and think about how lucky you really are.


The PlayStation was one of the biggest highlights of E3 1995

Before our ordinary twentieth century man could even call himself a twentieth century gamer he needed to get himself a PlayStation, but even this task wasn’t easy. In 1995 a PlayStation cost £299.99, which might sound like two hundred and something quid to you, but in those days there wasn’t as much money in the world, so what little money there was available was worth more. To our twentieth century man £299.99 was an entire year’s wages from his job working in a pit. He had to work a 50-hour day every single day for 6 months, in a pit, just to be able to afford his new PlayStation.

And even once he’s finally got his hands on the machine of his dreams, life doesn’t get any easier for twentieth century gamer. Just setting the thing up could take as long as a day, and in those days a day could be up to a week long. When our intrepid historical everyman opens up the large chest in which his PlayStation is packaged, he finds not only the console itself, but an enormous number of things called wires. Wires were like big, fat, hollow pieces of string that people had to use before scientists figured out how to make pictures, sounds and bits of computer code float through the air. In the ancient gaming world everything had to be connected to everything else using these wires, the end result being that the area around the average twentieth century gamer’s TV looked like a load of spaghetti, which is something people had to eat in times before Super Noodles were invented. Again, you might not think that this is such a big deal, but you probably don’t realise how much space this poor chap’s TV was taking up in the first place. Most television sets of that era were about the same size as a Smart Car, and had screens about the same size as a Smart Car’s rear view mirror, only square. Even the controllers had wires, by the way, so if prehistoric game man had to go to the fridge, to the toilet or to the front door in the middle of a gaming session, he had to remember to put the controller down first lest he accidentally dragged his PlayStation across the cold stone floor of his wigwam. Can you imagine that?

But even once everything was, as people of the time would say, ‘wired up’ the PlayStation still wasn’t ready to go. The TV had to be ‘tuned in’ to the PlayStation’s ‘wavelength’ first. What’s wavelength? Well, if olden day contraptions were to work together they had to wave at each other first, and unless they were waving at each other with the same sized waving action, or ‘wavelength’, they wouldn’t work. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t simple for our twentieth century man. In order to tune his TV to his PlayStation he had to turn a huge wheel on the side of the TV ‘til he saw the PlayStation picture on screen then stop turning it immediately. It was important to stop abruptly because, for reasons historians haven’t yet been able to explain, the wheel only turned in one direction and if he turned it just a little bit to far he’d have to turn it all the way through the tuning cycle again to get the picture back.


A twentieth century gamer tunes his massive, but tiny-screened, television (just out shot)

By the time our pioneer of gaming exploration had his TV and PlayStation working together in perfect harmony, he may have got a bit fed up with the whole business and decided to take a bit of a break and watch Eastenders (which they had even back then). But you won’t believe what he had to do now just to watch a bit of normal telly! He had to climb all the way around to the back of his TV and change the wires around, then do it again after EastEnders was finished so that he could play on his PlayStation again. Remember, there’s a huge mass of wires behind the gigantic, cathode ray set, making this a dangerous task. It wasn’t unheard of for twentieth century gamers to get inescapably snared on the wires behind their televisions and end up starving to death because the mobile phones they needed to call for help didn’t yet exist. In those days though, folk just took these kinds of risks for granted. It was part of everyday life.

In Part 2 of Hardships From PlayStation History our twentieth century gamer will face even more unthinkable adversity and suffer further unimaginable strain. And if he’s lucky he might get to play some games.

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