It’s a trap!

There is an old anecdote, which could be apocryphal, of an old British actor, possibly Sir John Gielgud, publically joining in the debate against the decision to remove kippers from the breakfast menu on the trains’ buffet carts, in a bygone era when the British Rail system wasn’t an embarrassing puss filled boil on the United Kingdom’s escutcheon. After much public outrage lead by Sir Gielgud, the train companies backed down and kept the kipper breakfast. On a subsequent occasion Sir Gielgud was travelling by train when the porter came to offer him his breakfast. “Ah, it’s kippers I presume, Sir Gielgud”, although I have no clue whether he was knighted yet at this point. “Dear boy no,” came the alleged reply, “I can’t stand the things.” “But I thought you fought for kippers on the breakfast menu,” the porter replied. “No, no, I merely wanted the choice.”

However much I think Microsoft and Sony’s seemingly endless supply of hardware iterations is a bad idea, flooding the market with many ever so slightly different and confusing versions of their hardware, I told myself if I was ever to get a Playstation 3 I’d need the full product, not the diet version Sony created to lower the price. Though I don’t intent to play Playstation 2 games, I want the choice to be able to do so. Though I probably don’t need four USB ports, I’d like them there just in case. So with this in mind and the as yet undecided new format wars between HD-DVD and the silly named Blu-Ray, I decided to sit it out and wait for a better opportunity to arise in the future.

Then, in a week where more film studios pledged allegiance to the Blu-Ray Sony Japan announced it would be discontinuing the 60GB version of its hardware over here too. Here I saw my choice of hardware SKUs suddenly evaporate. Soon the version with backwards compatibility would be gone forever. Sweating nervously, like the idiot I am, I thought I had better bite the bullet, get it over quickly like pulling the wax off in one fast pull through gritted teeth, to lie back and think of England.

The purchasing of my Playstation 3 is yet another example of what medical professionals now call F.I.G.S. (Fucking Idiot Gaijin Syndrome). After work I went to our local BicCamera to search for the remaining 60GBs. Usually, with large items, there will be a display model and a small stack of cards, of which you are supposed to take one to the cash register where they’ll supply you with the real thing, boxed and ready. On this occasion though there were no PS3s to be found anywhere. So I start to panic. Had there been a mad rush to get them now they’re discontinued? Am I too late? I went to the register to ask, “Do you have any 60GB PS3s left?”

At this point the reader should imagine a camera slowly riding backwards revealing the background, a wall, literally a wall full of PS3s in every shape and size Sony saw fit to produce to date. “Um,” the clerk replied and “yes.” If I had had any shame left my ears should have been burning, yet the feeling of embarrassment has all but dwindled due to overuse. Nevertheless I could see that behind her rictus service-smile a little bit of her soul had died. In her mind Americans are apparently not so cool and faultless as she was made to believe anymore. Of course, during these moments I always pretend to be American; I find it helps soothe the stab of shame.

It is almost, but not quite, interesting to note that in the time it took for the clerk to double-bag and process my PS3 on registers next to mine two Wiis and about three copies of Wii Fit were sold to respective customers.

Coming home and enduring the predicted salvo of ridicule and browbeating of She Who Must Be Obeyed I set to installing my new monstrosity. Of course, for an HD machine with HD capabilities and HD gaming it had escaped my attention that an HDMI cable was not included, so I jogged dutifully to the local Tsutaya. After a brief search I was forced to ask the staff if they had an HDMI cable. “A what?” “HDMI cable.” “H?” “Heh-Dee-Memu-Aye Ke-bu-ru” “HM?” “HDMI Cable, dammit. HDMI, I don’t know how else I can say it.” “Ah, HDMI!” But they were out of stock. So I continued my quest to the local electronics shop, which by that time had closed, though a nearby Donki was finally able to provide. Home, sweaty and tired I made the space needed and set it all up.

The very next morning I was awoken early, too early, by the return of my beleaguered Xbox 360, fixed, again. I set to the arduous task of connecting both to my WiFi router. After a headache-ridden morning and four hours of what can only be described as fruitless fucking around, neither my brand-new PS3 nor my much maligned 360 are on-line. I hate this state of affairs as it makes me feel both consoles are running on less than full capacity. The one thing that drove me away from PC gaming and into the arms of consoles was the ease of use and plug-and-play nature of video gaming. Those days are sadly gone. One can’t fully set up a console these days without a degree in Obtuse Acronyms, a masters in numerology and the patience of a Saint. The Wii, in stark contrast, took all of three minutes to be set up and connected to the ether. It purrs gently, its blue light suggestively blinking at me, while the two most powerful gaming consoles on Earth sit next to it, castrated and impotent.

So here I am, the slightly nauseous owner of all three current-gen gaming consoles. I can’t walk into my living room these days without the sick feeling in my stomach that I’ve been too profligate. Between the consoles, games and massive television I can’t help but feel, in a Fight Club kind of way, that I’m too deep into consumerism. I know these things can’t bring me happiness,as my continuing frustration to hook them all up to WiFi proves, and all the money spent could have gone towards much worthier causes like my savings account, pension plan or Absinth. I also know I’m such a sucker that the mere mention of a possibility of a chance that an item may not be available in the near future is enough for me to break out in a sweat and rush out to get one. I’m a sap, a sucker, a schlemmel.

8 comments:

  1. Did it come with any games?

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  2. "It purrs gently, its blue light suggestively blinking at me [...]"

    Quick, you've got a message!

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  3. Lucky man! The 60s are long gone here.

    Am I allowed to be amused at all the backtracking Sony's done with the PS3? First they claimed force-feedback would interfere with their "innovative" motion-sensitive controllers, and then they touted the system's backwards-compatibility. Nine months later, they've given birth to new truths!

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  4. Ack. Having gone from every console known to man, to being TV-less, with nothing, not even a DS, there is something to be said for materialism (within bounds).

    However, I can't say I'd be willing to buy a PS3 even if I had the choice ...

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  5. "the silly named Blu-Ray"

    That silly name would've made Blu-Ray a winner if they had not much discrepency in available HD content libraries for simply having a name that is much, much more consumer friendly.

    By the way, I do think Blu-Ray is a cool name! Why is it silly? (sad face)

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  6. Celso, no no pack-ins, just the console, though I did buy Ratchet & Clank with it which, happy surprise, plays entirely in English as my system language is set to such. Bonus! Now comes the arduous task of finding out which other Japanese titles do this so I won't have to import.

    Doesnotequal, yes you are allowed to be amused. Sony's backtracking is enormously funny and obvious. :)

    Keira, no telly either? Wow. I think these days not owning a DS may put you in the poverty zone. I thought they were ubiquitous.

    Peter, Blu-Ray is a silly name because it has a hyphen where there should be an "e". But I agree that HDDVD is an acronym too far for the common man.

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  7. I finally decided that I would purchase a PS3 not that long ago. After years of teasing how it's doomed and all is lost, and throwing in the old 'but where's the games?' debate every time the PS3 learnt a new trick, I finally decided that, actually, forget the games, those tricks are pretty cool.

    £300 for a Blu-Ray player, Peronal Video Recorder (with PlayTV) web browser, multi-media player and storage hub... It'll save me on buying another half a dozen boxes (with individual remotes) to stuff under the bedroom TV. The fact it'll play MSG4 has become but a bonus. Guess Sony's approach finally worked on me.

    But if the mates ask, it's simply a GTA IV backup plan for when the 360 passes on.

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