Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A quick chat with the Man behind PlayStation VR

The PSVR headset in action.
The PSVR headset in action.

We spoke to Simon Benson, the director of Sony's Immersive Technology Group and a founding member of the PlayStation VR team, about creating virtual worlds, how this technology will revolutionise gaming and the potential dangers of its ultra-immersive content.


How would you describe PlayStation Virtual Reality (PSVR)?

PSVR is a dream machine. Whatever fantasies you've ever had or dreamed of growing up you may be able to experience. Some people want to be an astronaut or explore Mars or experience the world's largest waterfall or climb Mt Everest, whatever it may be. Someone may one day create that game, that experience, and suddenly they've just unlocked one of your dreams and let you experience it as if you're actually there.

We've never had this level of immersion before. What we're doing here is taking gaming to a whole other level.

What do you consider the benefits of VR?

Even though it's a very advanced technology it's a lot more accessible for non-gamers.

When you look at a controller it can be complex for someone who isn't a gamer to understand how to operate it. But in VR you can reach out and hold a steering wheel the way you would hold a steering wheel.

If you want to know if someone is trying to overtake you, just look over your shoulder. You don't need to press a button or remember what button it is. It's just so intuitive.

London Heist, an on-rails shooter in PSVR
London Heist, an on-rails shooter in PSVR

This level of immersion has the potential to blur that line between fantasy and reality, especially with the more violent titles. How are you dealing with this?

We engaged with the ratings agency very early. That was great because they got used to PSVR, they got to understand it and then started looking at the games being created.

We've already seen some experiences that were rated at a lower level on the TV were slightly elevated in VR. So they're already adjusting the way they rate based on the fact that things are more immersive.

But we think of PSVR as a theme park when it comes to content. Some people want a roller coaster, so should we say you can't have them? Or should we let people who want a roller coaster have them?

There are so many different experiences you could go on. Horror's a popular thing for VR. Making people jump. It's not what everyone wants but clearly when you see a horror game you know it's a horror, so avoid the horror if you don't want horror.

So it's like a theme park in that there's a vast array of different experiences. There's roller coasters, horror rides, but lots of other fun stuff that's more casual and accessible.

Simon Benson, the director of Sony's Immersive Technology Group and a founding member of the PlayStation VR team. Supplied by Sony for TimeOut.
Simon Benson, the director of Sony's Immersive Technology Group and a founding member of the PlayStation VR team. Supplied by Sony for TimeOut.

What makes PSVR so immersive?

Not only is it 3D, like our world, but it's calibrated to your vision, so you truly believe the sizes of things. We're stimulating our senses in the way they're naturally stimulated.

It's the biggest step we'll take this generation. We've broken the borders of the screen and now let you walk inside the game in a convincing and reliable way.

The technology is ready. That's the exciting thing. It's the start of a revolution.

- NZ Herald

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