I’ve never really known how to tell you this. I still don’t know, to be honest. But over the last few weeks, in this time of crisis, it’s become apparent. I simply have to give it my best shot.
You’ve always, always been there for me: every high, and every low. In fact, thinking about it, you caused a lot of highs. And I just took them in my stride, treating you like an object whose sole purpose was to make me feel good. I never once thought about how you felt, and for that, I’m sorry. You showed me happiness. You taught me rules and boundaries. You encouraged me to improve. You picked me up when I was down. I am thankful, truly. I genuinely appreciate you. It’s about time I acknowledged it publicly. PS, I love you.
I suppose I should go back to the start — my first memories of you. But gosh, it was so long ago now, the memories are hazy. I was a kid, not realising the fortune of having you in my life, while so many others didn’t. The stories my mum recounted helped me to piece together some things. Dad, with one of his few interactions in my life, tried to put my loyalty elsewhere. Down the more traditional routes, I suppose. It was Mum who told me otherwise, who suggested I try something new. Mum who welcomed you into her house. The rest I guess, is history.
Back then, I was an innocent boy who just wanted to play all the time. You gave me this — no questions asked. Whatever I desired was what we did. I didn’t check if it was okay with you, I simply dictated. If other friends came round, I politely asked them what they wanted to play… but never you. There were months when I was hooked on one thing, and you’d patiently wait for me to move on. Do you remember when I first got into racing? I used to cycle around the streets as fast as I could go? When we played together in my room, I wore my bicycle helmet, pretending I was an F1 driver in our games.
I moved to Scotland in the late ’90s. I don’t think I changed, yet I must’ve. Life was all very different in my new home. It wasn’t long before you became something else too. We kept in touch in my early days living in that new country, but not as much as we should’ve. I had new friends, though. I wanted to play with them. It was safer here, and my schoolmates all lived nearby. I was older so I could stay out later at the park where everyone congregated. You never came out. I was too distracted with the novelty of new friends to worry if you felt abandoned by me. I’m sorry.
The year 2000 was when things dramatically changed for both of us, remember? It was time to go to secondary school. So many new faces and so many different people. You were in Scotland too, then. But you were unrecognisable. I guess people would’ve called it an “emo phase” with it being the noughties. They didn’t know this ‘new you’ would ultimately define who you became. If your life was a movie, this was when you’d walk down the stairs for the dance, dressed to the nines, and people would gasp. Except you didn’t dress up to the occasion, you simply wore black. You seemed smarter, I guess. No time to play the games of old; they seemed childish in comparison. It was time to be live in the now.
Even with all my new friends at secondary school, you were the hottest ticket. Everyone was talking about you. Everyone wanted your attention. I wanted your attention. Perhaps it was only because I was older, or maybe it was because you were more popular than ever. But socialising was more important, and you seemed to be everywhere. I didn’t mind. I got to hang out with you when my friends invited me over to theirs to stay over. I didn’t always know you’d be there too, but more often than not you were.
You didn’t seem to care too much; still, I’m sorry I neglected you as I got older. You know more than anyone how teenagers can be. Getting their first girlfriends and being distracted. I saw you playing with lots of other boys though so it went both ways. These aren’t the days that I’m apologising for though. It was when you developed again. It wasn’t like last time, more like an evolution of your 2000 change. I don’t know what it was with this alteration of yours but, wow what a difference it made. By the late 2000’s it seemed everyone just did a complete 360 on you. I’m ashamed to say; I did too.
How to explain what happened? Can I? You probably know how it was. That new American came over, and I couldn’t help being mesmerised by the glamour. Is that a justifiable reason for losing touch with you? I don’t know. Yet this was the start of our inadvertent hiatus from each other. Some mutual friends kept in touch with you and sometimes let me know you were doing. I knew you were okay. But, I never checked in for myself. I allowed myself to get so enamoured by this U.S influence in my life. I ended up going transatlantic and working in Vermont after university.
It’s what people do, though, you know? They want to travel the world. I went to the USA, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand. Honestly, I forgot about you. Exploring the world captivated me, and there was just no room for you. This is by all means with no disrespect for you; however, travelling might always be the biggest love of my life. I learnt more about myself in that year than in all my time in education. I don’t know what you did when I was away. Hopefully you didn’t spend all your time cooped up awaiting my return?
We never spoke about it when I came back. I started my career years. Things were mighty different between us. I like to think that I had matured into a more communicative and thoughtful person in my time away. However, I know you had changed. I suppose some could call this the fourth coming of you. And this time I paid attention. Properly paid attention. It goes without saying that time had moved on since we first met, and I didn’t just want to play games. I spoke to you a lot more, with friends we’d made along the way thanks to the Internet. We watched movies together, watched TV together, listened to music together, explored new places together. We even did some of the stuff I did without you during the late 2000s. I put a whole lot of my attention into you pretty much every evening after a hard day at work.
Then I left you again. Sorry that it was as sudden and unannounced as it seemed. Something didn’t feel right in life right then, and it wasn’t related to you. I left the country again. I decided to work abroad while moving around. You couldn’t join, as much as it would be fun to have you with me. The following 12 months were just as educational for my mind as the previous time I left, if not more. But, let’s not focus on that. The good times abroad weren’t to last. A global pandemic in the shape of COVID-19 prescribed a rushed trip back to the U.K., where I now write this with you keeping me company. You were there for me once again.
So consider this my love letter to you. Let me be unambiguous, at last. PS, you’re unquestionably not a postscript. You’re all PlayStations’s that have been there for me. Dad said the Dreamcast would be the one to have following Sega’s previous success. As always, mum knows best. And though I did a literal 360 to Xbox and never really got with the PS3, I felt way more at home when I put the Dual Shock 4 controller in my hands. The square, circle, triangle and cross will forever be synonymous to gaming more than X, Y, A and B could be.
A shoutout to you, PS1, when I was a kid with Final Fantasy VII, VIII & XI. Your grey box with F1 ’97 spinning inside and a 9-year old me wearing a helmet is the reason I’m so into Formula One now. PS2, you introduced me to music I would never have encountered thanks to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the three Grand Theft Auto games I spent countless hours on. Thanks.
And I sit here now, with my PS4 staring at me. You’re ready to give me another round of Warzone with life-long friends. But you’re there with Netflix, YouTube, Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-man, The Last of Us Remastered, Rocket League, Fortnite, and 4 F1 games, too. Ready to go during this painful period of isolation. My life has taken me places I never thought I’d go, and through experiences I never could’ve predicted. Yet a quarter of a century on from when I first held the iconic controller in my hands, my PlayStation is helping me find happiness in its own unique way.
I am now mere hours away from the Final Fantasy VII Remake release. It’s been 22 years since I first set my digital feet into Midgar city. Thanks to my PlayStation, I’m soon to do the same thing at 32 years old. The characters, console, and the controller all look familiar but have grown into something more than they were in the ’90s. Better than they were in every imaginable way. I hope my own evolution matches PlayStation’s over the three decades since we first met. I’ll always have nothing but the fondest memories of my time spent with a Dual Shock controller in my hand. You really have helped me grow, really have helped me when I’ve been down, and I sincerely do appreciate you. PlayStation, I love you.