My PlayStation 5 has sat next to my television for twelve months. It arrived on Day One, in November 2020, and I set it up and I’ve used it almost every day since.
It’s a disc model PlayStation 5, the one with the drive on the side. In the year that I’ve had this device parked next to my TV, I have not used the disc drive once.
This is because almost all the games I play on my PlayStation 5 are review titles. Review titles are usually codes sent over by PR via email. We redeem the codes via the PlayStation Store, download the game, and get to work. When I buy games, I usually just buy them from the PlayStation Store for the sake of convenience. Thinking back on it, I don’t remember receiving a review disc in the post since maybe 2018. There’s a larger conversation in that about how digital games and storefronts have come to dominate my gaming life, but that’s a conversation for another time. Right now, we’re talking about how stupid I am.
So no physical copies. Until last week, that is, when a physical copy of Farming Simulator 22 turned up at the office. What a treat! Opening the jewel case revealed an instruction manual inside. How quaint! A manual! In the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-one! I took the game home and threw it on the To Play pile. I didn’t get to it over the weekend, I had other things on, I try not to play games for too long on the weekend because I have to think and write about them all week. You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, you know how it is.
But after work on Tuesday, I decided I’d give Farming Simulator 22 a crack. As I pulled the disc from the box, it occurred to me that I’d never actually used the disc drive on this console before this moment. I wondered, idly, if the year it had sat unused had hurt it at all. If it would work when I put the disc in. I moved the disc toward the drive and hesitated.
I didn’t actually know which way the bloody disc had to go in. I’ve got my PS5 standing up, which puts the disc drive on the lower right-hand side of the console. I made the call. The disc went up with the art-side facing out, toward the right side of the console. The PS5 whirred to life, its fans suddenly turning harder than I’d heard them turn before.
In my life, I’ve never put a disc in the wrong way before. I was a kid when compact discs first arrived. I’ve been through laser discs, mini discs, DVD’s and blurays. They all had a clear orientation in whatever device they were supposed to be used in. But now, at last, I’d gotten it wrong. I suddenly felt very old.
But wait, hang on. This wasn’t my fault. The PS5 does nothing to tell the user how to insert the disc. There’s nothing to indicate the correct orientation.
(They’re not wrong, there’s a guide on the PlayStation website I could have consulted at any time and simply didn’t, because I am a fool.)
I went to eject the disc and discovered a new conundrum — I also didn’t know which button on the front of the PS5 was the eject button. I’d never had to use that either. In the year I’ve owned this console, I’ve used the power button exactly once, the very first time I turned it on. Wireless technology had spoiled me rotten.
I took a punt and pressed the “top” button. The disc slid out. I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d proven I wasn’t completely over the hill yet. I flipped the disc over and watched as the PS5 read it, recognised it, and began to install Farming Simulator 22.
A whole year that disc drive sat there waiting to be used. A whole year. I had a twelve entire months to find out which way the disc was supposed to go into the PS5, and never bothered to find out because I never had to. And then, when the moment came, like plugging in a USB cable, I had to flip it over before it would work.
Well, look, now I know. And so you do. The header image on this piece is a lovely graphic from the Playstation website that explains it so you can avoid making my mistakes.