Home sweet Home?

By now most of you will have spent at least 5 minutes wandering around Home on the PS3. Sony promised a lot from the social app, but have they really delivered on these promises?

When Home was first released, it was limited to your apartment overlooking the Monaco-like harbour, the main square, the shopping centre, cinema and the bowling alley. It was a very limiting experience, and I actually found myself spending more time creating and kitting out my avatar, than I did wandering around the various spaces. Downloading and loading these spaces also took a long time, and took any immersion away from me. Probably my most visited space, at the time, was the bowling alley, which had games to keep me occupied, that distinguished it from the glorified chat rooms that some of the other spaces are. Bowling in particular was well implemented and good fun. Although getting a lane or a pool table was a frustrating experience, due to the severe lack of them for the masses of people present. After a brief visit to the cinema and the shopping centre, where I downloaded all the free items that I could, I had seen just about everything that Home had to offer, and so left my virtual life behind.

 

Your apartment in Home is lacking in charm.

Your apartment in Home is lacking in charm.

For a few weeks I went on to see if there were any more spaces or games to play, but was disappointed to find that nothing much had changed. A T-shirt or pair of jeans, or a new table for my apartment, was the only new content available. The clubhouse that I bought was also eerily quiet, after having several friends over when I initially downloaded it. Things have improved since then though, with EA releasing their sports complex space, and other developers following suit.  Sony have improved the loading and downloading of spaces as well, and have artists like Dizzee Rascal performing live in a specially created area. But still there is a lack of things to keep you entertained for more than an hour at a time.

Now I’m sure you’ve all read the stories on Home, and seen it for yourself. The desperate guy chatting up the sexy avatar, usually with no success. Especially when said lady turns out to be a man! Also, there’s only so long that you can put up with camp avatars running up to you and doing a silly dance in your face! Another annoyance, is the constant barrage of abuse (racial and sectarian) that seems to permeate through Home. If your avatar is of ethnic origin or has an Irish sounding name, for instance, be prepared for insults galore, as groups of infants descend on you like a pack of wolves. It’s outrageous that this type of abuse exists in this virtual world, when police can get involved during football matches for the same thing in the real world. Another more sinister experience I had, was when I met a Belgian guy, who seemed pleasant enough, until he wanted to chat with me using my PSEye webcam. Obviously I declined his offer, but it made me think how vulnerable young children could be in this virtual landscape.

 

Spaces like the Red Bull race add a bit of excitement to proceedings.

Spaces like the Red Bull race add a bit of excitement to proceedings.

Home is still at the Beta stage, is in its infancy, and could do with a lot of improvements. Adding a HiFi or TV to your apartment, for instance, would give living spaces a lot more character. Integration with Vidzone and iPlayer should be a given. Launching a BluRay in Home as well would be a handy feature. Also why can’t you put your own photos in frames around your abode? I seem to recall when it was announced that this feature would be available. I know it would take a lot of monitoring, but surely folk wouldn’t be so stupid as to put dodgy photos in their apartments? More things to do in the spaces would help to liven things up as well. Xi had a lot going for it, with lots of puzzles to solve and mini games to play. Also EA have a lot of good games to play in their sports complex space, and something along those lines would help encourage players to keep coming back to the virtual world.

All in all, through all the bad experiences on Home, I’ve had some good times as well. If you’re with the right crowd and you get a bit of banter on the go it can be a lot of fun. It’s not quite the same as sitting in your local having some beers with the lads, but it can be entertaining none-the-less. On that note I wonder how long it will be before Sony opens up a Home Bar to your avatars? 50p for a virtual pint of Stella anyone?

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

One comment

  1. KrazyFace /

    A virtual bar’s already there Mr.M! But alas, no virtua-pint. You’ve pretty much said it all here though man, and I TOTALY agree about the whole ‘pictures in apartment’ thing too, I’d love that (plus tunes). I’ve also been um, propositioned by guys with cameras before and have found a certian sympathy for women through these unfortunate experiences! Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against gay men, I just don’t take well to getting photos of them via PSN!

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