As the penultimate article in my series on PlayStation Home, we now delve into the mysteries of Xi which pushes the limits of what you’d think possible from a virtual world merely for socialising.
What gets me most about Xi, is the sheer genius of it all. PlayStation Home as a cohesive online world has the potential to have lots of secrets, some of which Xi is exploiting fully, creating it’s own mythology around Home which I find very compelling. The first glimpse of Xi you’ll see will be through a secret Home area called the Hub. It’s worth reading what Joystiq has to say both about Xi in general and about the Hub in its article, ‘Xi infiltrates Home- and it’s kind of neat‘. My own thoughts echo Joystiq’s: why aren’t other Home spaces this cool? Quickly followed by the demand: let’s have more of this!
I’m not going to go into great detail about what Xi is, other than the fact that it is an alternate reality game (ARG) like I Love Bees. More information is on Wikipedia and various other websites. Personally I’m not a big fan of ARGs because if I wanted to be running around answering payphones, being left cryptic clues or deciphering messages like some kind of wannabe John McClain, I’d rather be paid for my services as an actual detective in the Metropolis!
I digress. For the rest of us (that’s you and me, I hope!), there’s an easier way to follow/keep up with the madness when it becomes too much and the armchair detectives have run off without waiting up for us, and that is in the form of a marvelous site called Alpha Zone 4. I only recommend the site for use as guidance, as just using it without figuring anything out at all for yourself would be a little bit lazy in my book.
Moving on from all this detective nonsense, Xi both as a concept, and in practice, is very refreshing. Up until Xi, PlayStation Home for me involved expressing outrage at buying virtual clothing, standing around Home Square listening in on boring conversations (or in some instances, simply being baffled by the Europeans), and yawning after playing the unsatisfying Red Bull Air Race. I actually can’t wait to see what Sony and their online collaborators have next in store for PlayStation Home. One thing is for certain, Home has the potential to put to shame all of its detractors, but crucially, to become an essential service for PS3 gamers and cement itself as one of the pillars of the PlayStation Network service.
Personally, as of yet I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only just made it past the introduction and been granted access to the holoPAD due to a glitch with finding all the pieces of paper, so I had to restart it! With the Home Maintenance area having been opened up,things look like they are going to get interesting (if they aren’t already!) Currently, this is where I get off on the Xi journey, as I’ve been a bit too busy to continue poking around both Xi and Home in general, so I think I’ll revist Xi at a later date and update this article to reflect that.
In my final article, ‘PlayStation Home: The next chapter?‘ I’ll look at what lies ahead for Home and whether experiences such as Xi are a step in the right direction.