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My Playface isn't all that Interesting

Sampling Sony's new promotion.


A few minutes of my PlayStation 3 launch day was spent in Odaiba checking out Sony's Playface Caravan event. Here's what went down.

As previously detailed, Playface Caravan is a nationwide tour of PlayStation product. The tour's first stop opened up in the lobby area of a theater in Tokyo's Odaiba area starting Thursday. Visitors to this particular installment of the event could sample games like Gundam Senki, Hot Shots Golf 5, Last Guy, and LocoRoco 2, with the PS3 games shown on new PS3 slim units.

In addition to the standard demo kiosks, Sony has four special booths set up for taking your "playface." The totally enclosed booths are equipped with 18 cameras that snap pics of your face as you play. The inside of the booths are totally dark except for the light coming from the TV and a white fluorescent bulb beneath your face.

I decided to give the Playface part of the event a try for myself. I first asked one of the reps if I could go into the photo unit. She told me that I'd have to first practice on a game outside. I was going to flash my credentials to show that I don't need no practice, but instead I humored her by playing LocoRoco 2.

Afterwards, I was lead into the photo unit. Before starting play, I was told to enter my e-mail address into a computer and write my name on a consent form.

Sitting down, I found a set of controllers, each with a label for a specific game (LocoRoco 2 had a PSP). While I was originally going to play LocoRoco 2, because I'm sure it makes me lean this way and that (perfect for the camera), I found that Killzone 2 was available (it wasn't playable outside, according to the lady, because of its Z rating) and picked up that game's controller instead. The lady pressed a button to switch right into the game. Apparently, Sony has the booths equipped with multiple PS3 units attached to an AV selector.

The lady -- who was hot and most likely coming on to me -- adjusted the chair, said I'd have 5 minutes to play, then closed the door.

While waiting for the initial cut scene to end, I took this picture:

I also updated the site mobile blog. I was worried the lady would come in and spank me for taking pictures while she was taking pictures.

I didn't get too far in the game. In fact, I died once. I suck at FPS games.

After the five minutes were up, the lady came in and gave me a sticker set of my Playface images along with a URL and password for checking for videos of my play session online. The information would also be e-mailed to me once the videos were ready to go, I was told.

I'm not expecting much from the videos. For what I feel may be a flaw in the Playface campaign, let's play "Risou and Genjitsu." That translates to "Ideal and Reality," and it's something I see at Japanese game blogs all the time. It's quite effective when trying to convey how shitty DS games look compared to their concept art.

For Playface, this is the ideal:

Those are the celebrity Playface images which appear in commercials and advertisements. See how expressive the faces are? They're so into the game.

Now here's the reality:

That's me playing Killzone 2. Either the lady made a mistake and printed out the same picture on each sticker, or the reality of game playing is that you'd have to be faking it to make anything other than that look.

Visiting the Playface.jp site, I was able to register using the login information printed on the sticker sheet. This gave me access to a "My Playface" page where I will eventually be able to see the results of my shoot (it takes seven days for processing).

Sony will be making available two versions of my Playface: a 360 degree version and a "battle version." You can see the two for other people at the site's front page.

Unlike me, the people currently at the page do seem to be pretty expressive during the gaming sessions. A little *too* expressive, if you ask me.

The "battle version" of the Playface is so named because it's used in a game of sorts where visitors can quickly compare two faces and select their favorite. This voting is used for a "Playface Derby" to determine the most popular Playfaces. I went through the game and selected all the girls and all the guys who had their mouths open while they played.

Just a warning for those attempting to play. From what I could tell, the game continues on forever. To quit, you'll have to select to exit from the top left.

Eventually, you'll be able to search for particular Playfaces, presumably by the nickname you select when you register (I'm "anoop"). Additionally, Sony will be offering blog parts, allowing you to stick your play face on your blog. Sony also plans on allowing players to take and post their very own Playfaces.

The reason you may want to take part in all this promotional activity is because of all the rewards and prizes Sony has planned for participants. Top vote getters can win such prizes as many thousands of dollars worth of credit at PlayStation Store. Sony also has PSP-go and PSP-3000 units up for grabs.

Anyone who registers at the site and makes frequent visits will accumulate Playface points. These can be converted to PlayStation Store cash at a rate of 1 point for 1 yen. I got 500 points for just registering and entering my Playface Caravan serial number.

At the very least, my effort to head down to Odaiba and play Killzone 2 for five minutes got me one third of the Game Archives version of Final Fantasy VII.

That, and evidence that my Playface isn't all that interesting.

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