Sony Shows a Little of PS4’s Player Interaction
One of the big questions that comes with the introduction of a modern gaming console is pretty basic: What does the PS4 user interface look like and how is it used? In the modern era, which I’ll arbitrarily declare to be “generation 7 and onward”, games consoles aren’t, after all, strictly games consoles. Instead, they are, to whatever degree, integrated media hubs where we watch movies from disk or streaming, play music in the same ways, and go shopping for games, movies and other kinds of applications. Without a doubt, the way these features are made accessible to a user is extremely important, and it can mean the difference between whether a system is joyful or painful to use. This fundamental truth will apply as much, if not more, to Xbox One and Playstation 4 as it does to their last-generation predecessors. While we still haven’t seen the main part of it yet, Sony has nevertheless put together the following video to show us a little about the ways players will interact with their PS4 systems–both on and off the box. The video and some thoughts about the new UI are below, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Right away you’ll notice in their presentation a focus on the mundane: a guy with a basic, not fancy, car, in a fairly basic living space with his PS4. He’s playing a game–Knack–and getting his ass handed to him. But then he notices something: an alert pops up, a simple box in which the PS4 user interface tells him that a friend has uploaded a video of the very location he’s failing abysmally to complete. Though it’s not exactly the point, one enjoyable element here is the role reversal: the male, typically the perceived “alpha” in popular culture, is failing at a combat task, while his female friend shows him how she managed to beat the snot out of the monster that beat him. I like that. It’s nice. And funny. Also not the point, so, moving.
He double taps the PS Home button and gets her video, which shows the way forward. Bouncing back into the game seamlessly, he adopts her tactics and wins the fight. Meanwhile, another friend, playing Killzone and needing a hand, asks him to join in. He doesn’t have the game, however, so he bounces into the Playstation store to buy it, and this is where we get another interesting nugget. After making the purchase, he’s able to choose which part of the game downloads first: single or multiplayer. Of course he chooses multiplayer, and goes back to Knack while he waits for the download to finish. He also messages the female friend, who’s now on her phone (a Sony Experia Android phone–shame about the Android, but whatever), saying she should buy the game and join them. She does so, straight from her phone, and it begins downloading to her PS4. Nice touch!
When the first guy’s Killzone multiplayer finishes, he bounces into that game and proceeds to suck, so he shares his session with his friend, who takes control of his screen and plays the game, showing him how to accomplish some task or other. Pretty slick. Finally, as the trailer wraps up, the first guy tells the girl she should join his Killzone clan. She refuses, and tells him HE should join HERS.
There are some layers to the messaging in this trailer, none of them hard to see. First, Sony’s making it clear that the PS4’s user interface design is built for ease of use in very social situations, and is planned to make it easy for players to interact with PS4 even while away from home, using a mobile device. But second, and I think more interestingly even than that, is that Sony is actively courting female gamers and showing them as empowered, capable individuals who enjoy games traditionally considered “male” games. This is a smart move, and one that is bound to play well with girl gamers. I hope they continue with this trend when they get to the point of actually advertising the system, because it’s just this sort of thing that can break moulds and tear down stereotypes about what kinds of gamers people of different sexes might be.