Before talking about theI’m talking about the time I interviewed The Big Show.
About ten years ago, in another life, I interviewed The Big Show, a professional wrestler who, to this day, works with WWE.
True to its name, The Big Show is large. Ridiculously tall. He is billed at 7 feet tall and weighs around 400 pounds. As I waited in a hotel suite for the Big Show to arrive, I tried to mentally prepare myself for the size of the human being about to erase my horizon.
Mental preparation didn’t work. Not even close. The Big Show has entered. My eyes widened. I audibly gasped as he took my tiny hand and squeezed it with a straight paw the size of a large plate.
It’s kind of how I felt when I came face to face with ain nature. No matter how prepared I was, no matter how many photos I’d seen to scale, the sheer size of this monstrosity of a console still took me completely and completely by surprise.
I was in the Sony office in Australia when I first saw it, chatting with a Sony employee. I caught it in my peripheral vision. I started to vibrate; focus completely lost.
” Is that right? ”
“No… it can’t be.” ”
“There is no way it is this large. ”
Although I saw it in the photos, despite my preparation, I was honestly, sincerely shocked.
So shocked that when I finally got a PlayStation 5 within the confines of my own home, I felt compelled to just… take pictures next to everyday objects. As if my primitive brain had to work and digest its scale. By placing it against the backdrop of a giant banana or potted plant.
Since I have my PS5, I take advantage of it. Great games,. But I also thought about it. Trying to figure out why the smart folks at Sony (I guess) decided to make the console look like this.
Because beyond the unholy size of the thing, the PS5 is simply an odd object to look at, let alone try to figure out. Consumer devices, especially consoles, can generally be placed within the scheme of a broader design aesthetic. Maybe they look a bit like the TVs they’re connected to? Or the living rooms in which they were designed to be placed?
Consoles tend to connect directly to the design zeitgeist or creatively oppose it. the, for example, is a console designed to disappear, stepping in time with Microsoft’s new focus on services like Game Pass. In a future where consoles may not even exist, the Xbox Series X might just be the last step. It is designed for look as a last step.
The Nintendo GameCube, on the other hand, released in 2001, was a repelling console. A playful looking toy, designed in direct opposition to sleek black boxes like the Xbox and PlayStation 2. Consoles designed to hide under TVs. All three devices were attached to each other whether they wanted to or not, and the design elements reflected that.
The PlayStation 5 is different. The PlayStation 5 arrived unconnected to anything on Earth in 2020: other consoles, tech devices, all kind of common sense.
The design of the PlayStation 5 is so confusing that I can’t decide if it is a deliberate Lynchian parody of our lowest nostalgic urges or – far more likely – the dumbest fucking thing that I have ever seen. have never seen. In the past, Sony has pushed the boundaries of console design with a sort of forward-thinking sensibility, just beyond the future. Its consoles have flirted with allure and mystery. This time around, they’ve created something that looks like a gigantic geriatric ISP router or a nasty gaming laptop.
It must be deliberate, right? Surely.
I cannot understand the meaning from a possible frame of reference. The PlayStation 5 is weird to look at but doesn’t even come close to a postmodern “weird for the sake of weird” ideal. It’s definitely related to things we’ve seen before, in our recent past. Strangely enough, the PS5 is almost normal. Like, normal bad. Normal banal. Like something a normal teenager would have drawn in 2007.
And the PS5 is not a “Homer” either. It is not a burst and bloated object that is clearly the result of bad taste, bad ideas and bad design smashed into an ugly box. If you squint, the PS5 is pretty cool to look at if you don’t think too much about it, but it has aged decades the second I took it out of the box.
Its closest design relative is probably the Xbox 360, a console released in 2005 and probably too young to evoke any kind of nostalgia. A console that started out in white and was eventually stained with cream by the harsh ravages of time. The PS5, I guess, will suffer the same fate. This thing is already a little weird and uglier. In two or three years, you will put a paper bag over his head.
It feels brittle, heavy, and doesn’t really belong in my house. And at this point I’m having a hard time figuring out how the PS5 could fit in all House.
I love the PS5. I like how it feels. I love Demon’s Souls, I love Spider-Man: Miles Morales, I love Astro’s playroom. More than anything, I love its new DualSense controller with its tactile, vibrating feedback and responsive adaptive triggers.
But the best thing I can say about the PlayStation 5 as a physical object is it – thank you lord –, where it can be mercifully hidden from human eyes.