”As of 05.18.09, we’ve officially launched the Home Community Volunteer program. We will be announcing our first group of volunteers shortly, and will edit this thread to include a list of all of their usernames.The answers to all of your other burning questions are below. Please read this entire FAQ before posing any questions regarding this program.”
That’s how it started.
Hard to realize the Home Community Volunteer program is three years old, isn’t it? On one hand, Home itself still feels so young — and yet, conversely, so much has happened in the last thirty-six months that it feels like an eternity of time has passed by.
Rewind the accumulated memories of your time in Home. The parties. The milestones. Friends both past and present. The moments of surprising poignancy, and the shared laughter with people who might be thousands of miles away. People whom you will never meet in person.
People who are, nonetheless, quite real.
This article is not a meditation on the HCV program itself. Rather, this is a bit of personal introspection. For three years, I’ve served as a volunteer to a community that exists electronically. In that time, Home has grown and changed considerably. Some friends are gone. Others have arisen. I co-founded GamerIndepth and HOMEinformer, and I serve as the podcast editor for HomeStation — a truly outstanding publication which I wish had been around during the early days of Home.
But through it all, I’ve been an HCV.
Gamers, in general, have been trained to have short attention spans: acquire, consume and move on. There’s always a hot new game right around the corner. Home, on the other hand, grows and evolves like a coral reef; whereas games are fun diversions for weeks or possibly even months, Home has been an integral part of my life for years.
It’s not hard to see why. Those of you who know me also know what I face on a daily basis. What I will continue to face for the rest of my life. That said, no one gets out of here alive — and perhaps the most accurate measurement of the “value” of someone’s life is what they do for other people. Tony Robbins once pointed out that one of the core universal human needs is the need to give beyond oneself — to create something or help someone else. This certainly drives me, and Home is the perfect opportunity to fulfill that.
Because Home isn’t a game.
Yes, Home is a platform for games as well as a social network for gamers. And yes, it would actually be quite fun if Home itself turned into more of a game. Prior to Home I was involved in Final Fantasy XI, which was more of an MMO than a social game, and it was insanely fun. But Home does something I’ve never seen on a game console before: it lets you live inside a video game.
Isn’t that one of our collective fantasies, as gamers? To live inside a video game world? From the old Captain N kids’ series to the latest TRON film, the idea of living inside of virtual reality is something that most people idly wonder about. We live it. No, granted, Home isn’t the Matrix. We’re a long way from something akin to a Star Trek holodeck. But there’s no question that the rudiments are there, in Home, for us to enjoy.
That said, Home’s a little light on the handholding. How many of you emerged into the daylight of Central Plaza for the first time, fumbling with the interface, wondering how the heck to assimilate this new experience? It can be a daunting proposition; you keep waiting for the pop-up to appear onscreen, telling you where to go next. Some people, I think, are still waiting for that!
To me, that’s been the fun of serving as a community volunteer: those moments when you help someone. To you it may be only a matter of answering a question for the umpteenth time, but to that user it can dramatically affect their entire perception of the Home experience.
Norse has written that Home is a mirror: what you get out of it is a direct reflection of what you put into it. I think he’s right. A lot of my time and energy has gone into Home over the last three years, and I can certainly say I’ve derived a hell of a lot of fun out of it as a result. Some advice, for what it’s worth:
1. Don’t get so caught up in what you personally wish Home was that you miss out on all the awesome stuff Home already is.
2. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and friends will come and go. Enjoy the good times and don’t dwell on the bad.
3. Sony cares, and they’re committed to continuously improving Home.
Whew. I’m not good at writing this sort of stuff. It’s hard to hit nine-hundred words! I will say this, though: sometimes the greatest reward is in helping someone else, and you don’t have to be an HCV to do that. The Home community is an incredibly committed group of users. That said, I’ve had an absolute blast these last three years, and it’s been a ridiculous amount of fun to work with fellow volunteers past and present. If the opportunity presents itself for you to become an HCV, I highly recommend it. And my sincere thanks to Home Community Management for giving me the opportunity to have this much fun. The last thousand days have been much brighter because of you.