PlayStation PS1 Original
The original model PlayStationSony

At a time when Pokémon Go is all the rage all over the world, when a gamer is the biggest YouTuber on the planet, and when a small Finnish mobile developer Supercell can be valued at more than $10 billion, it is very easy to forget that video games have not always been so mainstream.

For a large proportion of those working within the games industry today, they were treated as social pariahs growing up. Whether you had Mario bed sheets or a Sonic poster on your bedroom wall, identifying as a gamer firmly entrenched you into the world of 'geekdom' - a label that far from guaranteed an easy ride with your peers. Successful consoles sold 20-25 million, and media coverage was restricted to specialist magazines hidden away on the bottom shelves at your local newsagents. To the masses, video games were a niche. Small fry. A joke.

Then, in December 1994, PlayStation arrived. Whereas the games industry had typically been dominated by companies solely focused on the games scene, suddenly the likes of Nintendo and Sega had to contend with a major electronics giant, Sony, muscling in on their territory. It is no exaggeration to say things have never been the same again.

"I remember the first PlayStation being different," offers Ben Thomas of games community 1001Up.com. "[It had] a huge marketing campaign aimed at the late teen age group of which I was a part, selling itself as a 'serious' console as opposed to Nintendo's family approach and the confused mess Sega was making of the Saturn and 32X. I was drawn to it partly because of Sony brand awareness, but mainly because my friends were talking about it. It was the console everyone wanted to own, it was new, revolutionary. It was a console that represented my generation moving on from the cartoony, safe, friendly Nintendo world to one where adult gamers were going to be treated like adults."

For Thomas, what so transfixed him and millions of others was PlayStation's ability to render 3D. While other consoles of the time were also 3D-capable - Sega's Saturn and the Panasonic-backed 3DO for example - PlayStation had the performance and, most importantly, the library of games to stand apart.

"I think the sheer variety of games, the shift from games being perceived as for kids only, and also giving a platform to some incredible franchises is the original PlayStation's legacy. Some of those, like Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid and WipeOut, are still around today," contends Cissy Biri, currently finishing a masters in video game production, having previously worked on quality assurance at the likes of Travellers' Tales and Microsoft.

PlayStation Original Startup
The original PlayStation welcome screenSony

More than twenty years on, it would be easy to see the success of that first PlayStation - and the consoles that have come since - as simply being a shrewd move that enabled Sony to capture and dominate a burgeoning industry. It's no small feat that the original PlayStation was the first games console in history to hit the 100 million sales mark. However, its impact extended well beyond Sony's bank balance. Many creatives currently working in the games industry and media also derived inspiration from it.

For Josh Naylor, who travels the world as a senior evangelist for popular game engine Unity, PlayStation's role in his life has been even more fundamental. "Tekken was one of my favourite PlayStation games," he muses. "I used to play with my mum. My uncle still calls me Joshimitsu, taken from the Samuri Robot dude. But it has most certainly influenced my career. From the age of 13 I've wanted to be a game developer, studied IT, Maths and Graphics at sixth form and later Computer Science at university.

"I now travel across Europe teaching people how to develop games with our software for multiple platforms, including PS3 and PS4. As ever, people who make games also love games, so there's 100 conversations a day about what each other is playing and what we are looking forward to in the future."

Tony Gowland will not go as far as to say PlayStation pushed him into his chosen career - "that came more down to Quake and Half-Life on PC", - but he does admit his nephews "thought I was a lot cooler when I was working on PlayStation games." Gowland, who currently works at indie developer Ant Workshop, is resolute when it comes to what PlayStation did for the wider industry, however. "It was the console that made gaming cool again, and that has never really gone away.

"On a personal level, I feel like the broad variety of weird and wonderful games that were around when I finally bought my own PlayStation has seeped into my professional life. Now I'm an indie and in charge of my own destiny and what I work on, I find myself wanting to make games that are a little bit unusual in some way. If someone from Sony ends up reading this, can you give me the Ape Escape licence please?"

It is unlikely Sony realised just how its move into gaming would change the landscape, and things have not always gone the Japanese giant's way. Both Microsoft with its Xbox consoles and, albeit temporarily, Nintendo with the Wii, have eaten into PlayStation's market share and helped expand gaming's mainstream appeal even further. However, as a trigger point - both for bringing fresh blood into the market, and for encouraging some of those gamers to make it their profession - that original PlayStation remains unbeatable.

"My brother and I were in foster care at the time, so we didn't really own anything of our own, but we did have an old NES to play with. When I saw the PlayStation for the first time, I remember being absolutely in awe," reminisces Steve Stewart, co-founder at indie studio Dreamloop Games. "I skipped over an entire few generations of gaming when I first picked up that odd-shaped controller.

"To this day, I have a PlayStation next to my TV. I suppose that's precisely the legacy of PlayStation. It came into my life as a kid, entertained, inspired, and found a way to stay. I think it will always manage to do so. It shaped me, in a lot of ways. From what I did for fun, to what I do for a living. I might even have the opportunity to shape it in return, as a developer."

Indeed, while those searching for its legacy might like to pin it down to mere mammoth sales and iconic IP, what the original PlayStation did for the games industry was help create a generation who wanted nothing more than to make games for Sony consoles. Not all would realise their dreams, but two decades on from the first PlayStation's debut, many of the gamers it drew in are now making their name on its successors. The original PlayStation Generation has returned. In fact, it never went away.

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