On a Burning PlayStation

Once upon a time my PlayStation 2 melted and caught on fire.

The story begins on October 26, 2000. At long last, the Sony PlayStation 2 was coming out.

It was a dreary day that day. It was foggy. It was so foggy. And I lost my way in the fog, and I ran my car headlong into a stone wall.

On the plus side, I bought my brand-spanking new PlayStation 2.

The PlayStation 2 didn’t mitigate the loss of the car, of course. What were the launch titles I bought? SSX. Q-Ball, a pool game. Probably something else as well. But at the span of over seven years, memories fade.

Those first PlayStation 2 systems were notorious for their faults. That first Christmas? I’d say thirty percent came back defective. Talk about someone falling asleep at the quality control switch.

The EB warehouse, by the way, had an area that was called “the Graveyard.” It was basically a giant mound of defective PlayStation 2 systems. Thousands upon thousands.

Corporate didn’t believe that all those systems could possibly be defective. They shipped them out to stores to resell. And those systems were, in fact, defective.

As time wore on, those first release PlayStation 2 systems crapped out and died. The CD trays would jam. They wouldn’t turn on. They would stop reading discs; sometimes CDs, sometimes DVDs. I used to say that every day would reveal a new and unique failure mode for the PlayStation 2.

But my PlayStation 2 soldiered on. I never had a day’s issue with it. When I wanted to play it, it ran. When I wanted to watch a movie on it, it was fine. But I knew that the clock would run out on the system. It was one of the first generation systems. It would eventually die.

So when Sony announced the slimline PlayStation 2, I decided it was time. I would trade in my PlayStation 2, pre-order one of the slimlines, and I’d have a brand-new PlayStation 2, one that Sony engineers would have worked out all the kinks.

I boxed up my PlayStation 2. Traded it in at work. Sold it to a customer wanting a used PlayStation 2.

And when the slimline PS2 systems came in, I took mine home.

The first thing I noticed was that it got really hot.

Well, it didn’t have a fan in it. Of course it would get really hot.

I bought the vertical base for it. It didn’t seem to run as hot once I put it up on its side. Better ventilation, I decided.

Sometimes it would lock up. I didn’t like that, but I noticed that when it locked up, it was because I’d been playing it for a while, and because the system had gotten really hot.

Electronics don’t like high temperatures, I decided.

But it wasn’t really an issue. I didn’t play my PlayStation 2 that often. Some Champions of Norrath action. Or Gauntlet. That was really about it. More often than not, I’d play my XBox.

One day I was playing my PlayStation 2.

And I noticed something.

I noticed a smell.

What was that smell? I wondered.

It was the PlayStation.

Something in that tiny little case had melted. Something in that tiny little case had caught on fire.

The PlayStation 2 died that day.

Eventually I used my warranty at work to replace it. But then I turned around and used the new system as a trade-in toward my Xbox 360.

From time to time I think about buying a new PlayStation 2. I still have a few games for it. The Kingdom Hearts games. Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. A couple of others. Sometimes I feel the itch to play the PlayStation 2.

But then I remember.

I remember that acrid smell.

I remember Sony’s shoddy workmanship.

And I move on to something else.

I used to play video games a lot.

I haven’t touched a video game in at least a year.

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