The first time Digitiser ever laid eyes on a PlayStation it was encased in a Perspex cube atop a gently-lit plinth. That’s not even a lie. Frankly, if we were going to lie about it we’d have said something more interesting.
Specifically, we'd have said something like this: “The first time Digitiser ever laid eyes on a PlayStation it was glued to the jaw of a torpid, displaced Jacobite”.
That would be a good lie. That would be the best lie.
We did see one in Perspex, atop a plinth at some games show or other, a year or so before it was officially released in Europe. We weren’t allowed to touch it. We weren’t even allowed to know any stuff to do with it or nothing. And that famous t-rex demo - So much real! So scare! - had yet to be unveiled. But that iconic design was there, and already being drilled into the deep, flatulent, fabric of our soiled consciousness.
Indeed, into everyone's soiled consciousness.
At the time we were pretty sceptical – Sony didn’t exactly have much of a track record in games. Back then it was all about the Sega and the Nintendo, and – as is the way when you’re a ridiculous, ignorant child – we couldn’t ever imagine things being any different.
Sony trying to muscle into our console industry felt like some uninvited rich kid hanging around a bunch of street toughs, hoping their urban cool would rub off on him. See him there, standing at the edge of the basketball court, pretending to chew gum and click his fingers. See now as he jiggles his left leg in apparent nervousness, and bobs his head at their socially-deprived quips. Is he having a stroke? No, he is just trying to fit in.
Oh, how very wrong we were.
The PlayStation somehow managed to transcend its thoroughly uninspired launch software (pretty, but pretty limited, Ridge Racer aside) to smear the floor and walls with its competition.
Like some randy, bandy-legged centaur, it pounced on the mistakes of its rivals (terrible marketing from Sega, and some weird, oddly outdated-feeling hardware from Nintendo). Consequently, Sony belched out a chest-depilating 102.5 million PlayStations to the Nintendo 64’s 33 million, and the pitful Sega Saturn’s 9.5 million. Its successor, the PS2, would sell even more lewdly.
As a brand, it was a quantum vault in terms of making gaming a legitimate lifestyle option – PlayStation became cooler than the street toughs could ever dream.
So cool in fact, that the North Pole - literally the coolest place on earth - is still to this day renamed "The North PSole" once a year, on the anniversary of the PlayStation's launch.
Unfortunately, that is a lie - and not even a very good one. Please try to keep up.
The truth is, while we’d struggle to deny the importance of the original PlayStation, we confess that we never entirely warmed to it. Yeah, it had Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Wipeout, Final Fantasy VII and that – but even while we accept the general wisdom that those are all classics, we weren’t really fans of any of them.
Sorry about that. We gave it our best shot.
Plus, we never did much like that joypad. It says it all that they’ve now made the PS4 design basically the same as the Xbox pad. Still, you have to admire them for sticking with it through a subsequent two hardware redesigns.
And by "admire" we mean "detest".
But that's not to say we can't raise a glass to the part its parts played in turning gaming away from a being slightly embarrassing hobby, practiced solely by young boys and social inadequates, to something slightly more acceptable. It transcended our expectations to become the cool kid on the block, the one that all the urban street toughs wanted to hang out with and stroke.
Maybe that was the problem. Before, we felt like gaming was a hobby for the likes of us. It was ours. After the PlayStation - the first console to make regular appearances at nightclubs - there were new, unfamiliar, cool types at the party. And we were never cool.
It would take another generation or so, but gaming was on its way to becoming something for everyone.
COMING UP LATER IN PART 2: 20 hastily-compiled PlayStation facts