The Unintended Outcome

by FEMAELSTROM, HSM team writer

When Pfizer first came out with Viagra, it had a different use than what it has come to be used for now. A vasodilator, it was intended as a heart medicine. Looking at the (more prominent) use now, one can easily forget and leave in the trail of history what the original use was. Viagra is a more famous remedy for men in another way than those suffering from heart health issues.

Sometimes this happens in this world. An item will come out and we will forget its intended use, in place for what it has become.

Those noisy leaf blowers that so many detest — because the users often do it way too early in the morning — had a different start than many might think. They were seed spreaders. There was an attachment that went on the nozzle that feeds the air stream the seeds and they get fired out onto the lawn. Now, every time you see them, they are used to push lawn debris around the yard. Another example of an idea that shifted from its original design and in its own way became more popular and useful than originally intended.

We all hate these machines at 6:30 a.m., admit it.

Another item that did this was our own Home.

Let’s look back on the foundation of our Home and quickly see the beginning. Home basically started as an outpost of sorts for gamers to find like-minded gamers to game with. A place to find others to play with and play against in online games. The friend list feature was to accommodate that.

Home, though, did something amazing. It subtly changed and became a social environment all its own. Things shifted and changed, and Home became a place that was the destination unto itself. Now there are countless people that come on Home and don’t even game. I will admit that I am one of these people. Once I even wrote in my comment on my gamer tag, “PS3 plays games too!”

To those that know me, I am a die-hard fan of Home, have many Home friends and even met a woman on Home that I care deeply for. Home is and has become more than it was intended to be.

Today in Home, we shop, we hang out, we decorate our estates, we join clubs, we start clubs, we forge relationships that we would of never been able to in other environments before. There are media sites for the fans. We have blogs and magazines like this one you are reading. We can voice our opinion, and often it is actually heard. The developers that help create the very Home we enjoy read the blogs and magazines in order to further please the users.

All these elements that are in place now make it vital that Home stays around for a long time. There have been articles, here in HSM, dealing with the inevitable closure of Home — and it must be brought back to mind that these articles reflect possibilities and are not reflective of any real close date, because as far as Home and Sony are concerned, they have not issued any comment, statement or hint towards closing Home. The thought that buzzes around my mind, though, is this:

Like Viagra and leaf blowers, Home has become more that what it was intended to be, and many people deeply depend and count on it, even on a daily basis.

We all have the desire to connect somehow.

As I examine my friends list, I see a great variation of use patterns. There are people that use it once a week. I have a few people that haven’t been on in months. The larger portion, though, are on every other day if not daily. Many of these people are in need of the interactions that Home allows. In my year and some here on Home, I have seen very emotionally needy (and in that term, I do not mean that as an insult) people who are dependent on the social landscape that is Home. I have heard the stories of lonely people who are afraid of the world at large and seek the anonymity of Home to travel to virtual lands, as they are in all reality unable to deal with so many of the real world’s real social elements. I have met people that simply need friends, and I have met people that are unable to make friends due to physical constraints in their private lives.

To all these people, Home serves such an invaluable service that it can’t even be measured to those that dearly need it. I knew a man here in Home that was bound to a wheelchair and unable to get around very easily. He valued the fact that on Home, he was able to walk, and travel freely through the lands, and in the reality of it all, he met people where he could reveal his nature when he wanted to, and wasn’t given a second look simply because he was wheelchair-bound. To the virtual him, he was never in a wheelchair; that was never a factor.

That was only one man. There are many more such stories. I’ve seen many people that have needs, both emotional and physical, that makes life hard to deal with in what we call the real world. That may not be the most cool or hip thing for Sony’s marketing department to try to sell, but it’s the truth of the matter.

One big happy crowd of Homebodies want to stay that way.

We cannot force Sony’s hand to save Home from a potential closing one day. But I want those that are involved in the decision-making for this enterprise to hear and to know that aside from simply being a wonderful realm that people can congregate in and game in, this place has a far deeper meaning to many (including myself) for far deeper reasons than free gifts and clothing or estates. This place is literally a social lifeline that so many people count on a daily basis to feed the need to interact with other humans by way of voice- and text-chatting within Home. Meeting friends in clubs and simply hanging out in lands and having fun in ways that the real world may prohibit.

This has become a place that people need, when they want to connect with a world that in its real state is so hard to deal with because of the cruelties of social acceptance and personal constraints. The idea that in Home you can be anything regardless of who you are in real life is what brings people here and keeps them here. Somebody with emotional or physical issues can be whomever they choose to be here. In Home people are able to fly, to run fast and dance; whatever the options allow.

Like the examples of Viagra and the leafblowers, I do hope that on the day that Sony executives decide to discuss the thought to flick the Home switch off, they will take into consideration that this place means something so different than its original intention, and a great number of people need the social aspect of Home far more than a series of virtual items and homes or clothes and companions. Those commodities are the method by which Home monetizes, yes, but there is more to Home than just that. Far more.

 

November 12th, 2012 by | 6 comments
FEMAELSTROM came to Home in June 2011 and never wanted to leave, even at weekly maintenance when he usually gets booted. The sand box environment appeals to the explorer in him and often is out and about as he ‘geeks’ out dressed like some sort of sci-fi character, while he people watches in popular public spaces. An artist and writer, FEMAELSTROM loves making friends and meeting people. He loves sci-fi and decorating Home estates and loves to respond “here” when people ask “where are you from?” in public places.

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6 Responses to “The Unintended Outcome”

  1. $$$$ will make the decision. SONY’s not in this as a public service.
    Use it or lose it.

  2. Burbie52 says:

    Great read Strom and right on the money. Yes Sony is a company and needs to make money, but I think that Home has become enough of a cash cow, especially lately with all the new developments, that it will be around for a long time to come. Even if PS4 comes out without a version of Home in it, PS3 will be here for a long time after. Just look at PS2, it is still here and purchasable. Home means a lot to many, and I too hope it lingers for a long time after any new console shows up.

  3. Godzprototype says:

    To continually create things people can obviously relate to with each other, will make Sony money.
    This was a really nice article Strom.

  4. ted2112 says:

    I really feel Sony looks at things from a let’s make money point of view, but also a what’s good for the company point of view. Home has some amazing momentum going right now, popularity and expansion wise. Oh yeah, and it’s also making money.So, I don’t think it is going anywhere. I also feel that the PS4 will have Home on it, simply for that reason. In the initial launch of a new platform they are going to want as many as possible on board as early as possible.

    If I’m wrong, it’s ok as well because the PS3 will still be around for a long time, and Home with it. You can still go to Game Stop and by a PS2!

    I agree with you Strom, I don’t think they had any idea what they were going to get with Home. Great article as always!

  5. riff says:

    Great article Mael! Yes very “stimulating.” heh. I do agree. The social aspect of home actually got me into gaming. I would have never bought any games if it were not for Home and the friends I have met there. I love the social aspect of it. When people move they can take their little black box of friends with them anywhere…

  6. Aliasdude66 says:

    Great article Mael! I have been thinking a lot on the future of Home and the social aspects it provides. I believe the die-hard users of Home understand the social value. In a way this can be a double-edged sword. Using myself as an example, I have lost a great deal of interest in buying items. Home has reached the point where the selection of clothing items and personal space has reached a sort of critical mass. I have more items than I will ever need, and it takes something really special to catch my interest in the store. I come on Home to see my friends.

    So here’s the dilemma: Sony has a loyal Home “customer” in me, but what I come to Home for cannot be sold. It’s the service itself that has the greatest value for me.

    I think Sony is feeling the squeeze of their most faithful users running out of things to buy as well. Perhaps, this is why they have made the shift to games. Unfortunately, the disc-based games are so much better that I don’t know how willing people will be to shell out money for a mediocre gaming experience.

    Home has been used as a marketing tool for disc-based games and other products, but I don’t know how much of a percentage of their revenue that represents.

    I have already seen a few of my friends drift from Home -- friends that used to come on every night for years. They just got bored and realized how much of their real life was being neglected I guess.

    In my opinion, Sony needs to come up with some better ways to exploit the social aspect of Home that draws the real fans. Perhaps more special events -- maybe even sell tickets. I think more could be done with the clubs as well. One idea I had would be to have contests where an award is given to a club and it’s members for winning. If Home carries over to the PS4, I think a better voice chat system would help strengthen the appeal.

    That being said, I don’t think the end of Home would be enough to end the friendships I have made. Where there is a will, there is always a way. I think we would simply migrate to some other web-based social platform.

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