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Opinion: PlayStation has come and gone but let’s not forget about the Square

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The PlayStation Road to Greatness Truck stopped at the Paris Gibson Square on Saturday.
The PlayStation Road to Greatness Truck stopped at the Paris Gibson Square on Saturday.

If you saw a big line of people in front of Paris Gibson Square standing out in the rain, or if you were there on Saturday, then you were witness to the power of an idea coming from two local visionaries.

It was Josh and Trevor Hughes who started the campaign earlier this summer to bring the PlayStation Road to Greatness Truck to Great Falls.

Josh and Trevor said they wanted to bring it here in part to share what they’ve experienced at the Electronics and Entertainment Expo or E3 with the rest of Great Falls. They did just that and even more.

Once in the truck, the PlayStation folks engaged with the crowd with fun social games, showed footage of games that have not yet been released and even gave away several PlayStation Vitas. There was free pizza and beverages inside the Square and the wonderful Hell City Kitty and the Helligans performed there, as well.

The rain hardly kept anyone away, and PlayStation was kind enough to hand out parkas to people waiting in the rain to help them keep dry.

If you’re not aware of how this all started, check out my previous story about what Josh and Trevor of Team KAIZEN did to make it all happen.

It’s a story about a grassroots movement reaching it’s apex in a glorious way. Tons of people from the community came out to take in the whole experience and support what they worked so hard to achieve.

Josh and Trevor and Team KAIZEN  deserve praise for being positive influences on our local economy. They’re working to make Great Falls a hub for video game development and I am extremely excited to see what they do next.

Hell City Kitty performs at the Paris Gibson Square on Saturday
Hell City Kitty performs at the Paris Gibson Square on Saturday

While I was at the event, however, I noticed several concerning things which prompted me to write this post.

I was happy for Josh and Trevor that there was a huge turnout, but it did concern me that there were hundreds of people waiting outside in the rain for a chance to see some new video games from a large video game corporation, even if they were doing right by our local guys.

And yes, they did do right by Josh and Trevor and the Electric City because they came here when they didn’t have to. The voting aspect was just one side of the equation and Sony could have easily said,

“Great Falls won the voting, yes, but there are other places that we feel are better suited to reach out and market our products toward.”

So, kudos for them keeping their word with the contest and coming here.

However, let’s please keep in mind that it wasn’t entirely out of the goodness of their heart that they were visiting.

Sony has products to sell and ultimately a considerable part of this visit for them was about  keeping the brand on the lips of as many people as possible to keep lining the pockets of the Sony machine.

It’s true that part of the American system is being open to businesses doing what they can to build their brand no matter how big or small.

And, the silver lining here is how they’ve done right by a small independent development company who’s trying to make big things happen in their community.

However, you might think by having an event at an art museum, there would be more people who would take the time to check out the artwork inside the museum.

Perhaps I was there at the wrong time and I am willing to submit to the fact that when I was there I had already been inside the truck. Had I come back later, maybe there would have been more people inside the museum checking out the exhibits.

Beyond this, however, part of me wonders why people are willing to stand in the rain when a large corporation brings its wares to town, but when independent artists bring their wares to town, hardly anyone notices.

Let me repeat what I said earlier. I know this was a good thing for Great Falls. I know Josh and Trevor have great things in store and I know that the huge feedback was a great thing to see.

I just wish that we could get that same kind of interest for local art and music.

Why can’t, when the next art exhibit opens at either museum in town, there be hundreds of people waiting in line to check it out rain or shine?

Why can’t we consider that what’s being created here is just as exciting and captivating as whatever was inside that truck, which admittedly was pretty damn cool?

Why can’t we start to see that maybe the Square is a pretty awesome place to hang out because, hey, remember that time they brought that video game truck here?

People waiting in line to check out the PlayStation truck at Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls.
People waiting in line to check out the PlayStation truck at Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls.

We can make all of these things happen and we don’t need any help from outside companies who may or may not have our best interest in mind in the future, even if it appears Sony did in this case to a certain degree.

The reason I created Big Sky State Buzz was because I had enough of being told what to do by a big corporation. I put my foot down and said, you know what, I don’t need you telling me what I can and can’t do because I believe in myself, I believe in my brand and I believe in the people who will support what I’m doing.

But, getting back to the event yesterday, in an ideal world, the Square will see a boost in attendance as a direct result of this truck coming here.

The museum is not perfect and there are things that might not go quite the way people would like, but that’s true no matter where you go or what you do.

If you went to the Square yesterday, don’t let it be the last time you go back in the foreseeable future.

There are some fantastic things happening there, just as there are the nine, nine! other museums in Great Falls. And, the thing is, they need your support to continue keeping their doors open.

Even though the PlayStation truck has come and gone, let’s continue celebrating what we have here in Great Falls. And, much love and kudos sent out to Team KAIZEN for putting our town on the map, at least for a day.

Let’s use this great event as a needed push to keep the ball rolling for Great Falls’ only local, contemporary art museum and Great Falls’ only local video game development company.

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