What is The PSP Nation? How did it get started?
The PSP Nation, or TPN as we like to call it, is a community of PSP gamers that enjoy getting together on a regular basis for ad-hoc PSP gaming sessions. Think of it as a portable LAN party, but because of the many common interests in our group, we often just hang out, enjoying the friendships, and sharing some good laughs. We're based in NYC, though we do have many members from all around.
TPN started out over two years ago, before the PSP's launch in the US. I was so excited for this device, and couldn't wait to enjoy the great games and the multimedia capabilities. The only thing was, I knew no one else who planned on getting the system...at least not personally, though there were many potential fans I saw online. Someone on an online message board once suggested that I started a group over at Meetup.com. I signed up, created the group, and began inviting folks. Since then, we've moved on to a couple new internet domains with the help of some really talented folks in the group, but we still continue to meet and have great times. We're unofficial and volunteer-based, and not sponsored in any way.
What makes a good meetup location for PSP gaming?
Well, a public, open location is important, as we don't want to have newcomers feel trapped or uncomfortable. Malls have been great venues, particularly near food courts, so that folks can grab a snack in between gaming and discussions. It helps when you're close to public transportation too, so that people can easily get there. Finally, you have to make sure you provide good directions in terms of how to get there, with links to online maps and pictures of the venue if you can find them. WiFi spots are an added bonus.
Are there any horror stories to share?
I remember one time we decided to switch things up and have a bowling night. Only thing is, I never bothered to reserve any lanes. Members showed up, a couple with actual bowling balls and shoes that they've been lugging around all day, only to find that all the lanes were booked for some corporate party. A couple times we've had meets where only two people showed up, so the thing kind of dissolved before it got started. We try to make sure we get enough RSVPs in order to keep events open, now. There have never been any real incidents where people got out of control. We're more like a family now, and everyone is just so cool it's really unbelievable.
How has the community grown over the years?
Our first meet was on the day after the PSP launch, and we've had over a dozen people in attendance. Now this may not sound like a lot, but you have to remember how expensive the PSP was at first, and how also there were lots of shortages. To have that many people together, each with a hot $250 device, all playing Twisted Metal and Ridge Racer, it was a pretty big deal, especially for it being our first time doing anything like this.
These days the meetups are a normal thing that just happen. We've had times when the group swelled to over 20 people in one location. It's great because we had full sessions of GTA Liberty City Stories, with 6 players each going at it. You can imagine all the screaming and yelling going on as people rack up kills, or win Burnout races at the last split-second. We get a lot of curious outsiders coming up to us wondering what's going on ... puts a grin on my face just thinking about it.
Do you think Sony is capitalizing on PSP's potential? What can they do better?
Any company can do better. That said, Sony has done what many thought would be impossible, and that was take away a significant market share of portable gaming from Nintendo, where all others have failed. Last I checked, there were over 20 million PSPs out there. They've got an amazing little machine, which is essentially a portable PS2 with a great line-up and some nice media capabilities. I am a big fan, obviously.
They do need more PSP exclusive killer apps, though games like Syphon Filter, Wipeout Pure, Tekken, Loco Roco, MGS:Portable Ops, Ace Combat and Killzone have done a more than admirable job, and each really showcases just what the system can do. I've even welcomed all the ports, because as a busy commuter and family man, I'm very limited in terms of playing home consoles, so I experience great games like Prince of Persia: Rival Swords, Gitaroo-Man, and Lego Star Wars 2 exclusively on my PSP. The whole UMD movie thing is in the past now, so they can focus on the games and its other capabilities.
What drives your dedication to the PSP?
The PSP Nation brings out a competitive side to our members, in that we want to excel at our games so that we can have better competition during our meetups. So besides the games being as fun as they are, I'm always trying to improve my scores, experience the challenges, and try out new things with the system. Just the other day, I got beaten pretty badly on a Puzzle Quest matchup, and have since played it almost exclusively to get better. Plus, the game is the most addicting thing I've ever played anyway, and that helps!
I just love all the many things you can do with your system, and the fact that it's portable and features such a great screen, coupled with some significant horsepower. I love taking it on the road and fast-forwarding through time while enveloped in a game. Using it as my music player, and a photo album is just icing on the cake.
Any games you're specifically looking forward to?
Absolutely. The biggest one is God of War: Chains of Olympus. I am so stoked for that, seeing how the console installments have been so spectacular. Then there's Wipeout Pulse, Final Fantasy Crisis Core, Castlevania: Dracula X, Rainbow Six, Worms 2, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, NBA Live '08, and hopefully Devil May Cry comes out in '07 as well. There's so many more, but these are the one's I'll definitely be getting.
Thanks Hector for the interview! We eagerly anticipate your appearance on a future episode of the PlayStation Fancast. If you're interested in participating in a PSP meetup, make sure you visit The PSP Nation.