Dave Ranyard, the director of Sony Computer Entertainment’s London Studio, made his 72-year-old mom dive with sharks; she looked pretty scared, even though it was only virtual reality.
It’s not surprising, then, that the German rating board for video games actually gave The Deep, London Studio’s tech demo for Sony’s virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus , a stricter age rating when the VR goggles are on. It’s a pretty strong endorsement of the engaging power of VR technology, even without extras enhancements such as haptic feedback and eye-tracking.
Speaking at today’s D.I.C.E. Europe game industry conference in London, Ranyard said that the USK, Germany’s equivalent of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, rated The Deep suitable for children 12 and over when viewed on a regular screen but gave it a 16 rating when seen through Project Morpheus.
Ranyard shared a video of his mom testing out The Deep, and while she wasn’t actually submerged in a shark cave she sure felt like it, judging by her terrified reaction. “I know that was a genuine response to the experience,” said Ranyard
London Studios seems pretty big on scares, and The Deep isn’t the only way it’s trying to spook Project Morpheus users. “We’ve done a lot of work with scary things,” said Ranyard, explaining how the studio, which has been working on VR software for about two years, has applied VR companion apps on mobile devices. App users can then control the “scares” in a haunted house while someone else moves around it using Project Morpheus.
London Studios is best known for augmented reality games, such as pet simulator EyePet and Wonderbook, which brings the world of Harry Potter to life. “It’s not such a big leap from augmented reality to virtual reality,” said Ranyard, who believes that VR has all the ingredients in place to become a disruptive technology.
As for his mom, Ranyard is pleased she had the opportunity to be scared in relative safety. “She’s 72,” he said. “She’s never going to go shark diving.”