If, like me, you’ve dreamed of the day when the world comes to realise that video games are so much more than the pastime of Call of Duty-obsessed teens and neck-bearded basement dwellers, the arrival of mature, genuinely evocative titles such as last year’s Gone Home and The Last of Us will no doubt have sparked excitement that the dream is almost a reality. With games that are no longer afraid to broach any number of mature themes and issues, and in some cases even have the power to make players cry, non-gamers may one day soon–instead of scoffing at the images displayed our on screens as they pass by–actually want to sit down and watch, caught up in the scenes unfolding before them.
Unless, of course, the images on that screen are anything like those from the newest tech demo for Sony’s virtual reality headset, Summer Lesson, which looks to be mostly about leering at a schoolgirl in her bedroom while pretending to study.
Although it has been exhibited at a handful of conferences and trade shows, this month’s Tokyo Game Show marks the first time the Japanese public will be able to experience Sony’s take on virtual reality, currently dubbed Project Morpheus. Our own US-based editor Michelle went hands-on with the VR unit at E3 earlier this year, and was left feeling both buzzed for the future of gaming and scared to go back in the water following her experience of the “shark cage” tech demo titled The Deep. While virtual reality may still have a way to go, she reported, the sense of immersion it creates is unparalleled.
It would seem, however, that someone in charge at Sony decided that Japanese gamers needed something a little bit different to be convinced of the merits of virtual reality. With the help of the people who brought us the popular fighting game series Tekken, they came up with this.
Unveiled at yesterday’s Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and Asia Press Conference, Summer Lesson aims to create that “as if she’s right beside you” feeling that only virtual reality can offer, and takes place in what appears to be the bedroom of a high school student as she, if the title is any indication, attempts to help the player with some form of schoolwork.
The demo will be made available to attendees at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, asking the headset-wearer to communicate with the as-yet-nameless female character by nodding or shaking their head to respond to her questions.
▼ Would we be embarrassed if our mothers saw us playing this demo? <nod nod>
Granted, players do not have to sneak peeks down the girl’s blouse or up her skirt, but the little bit of footage we’ve seen so far suggests that Summer Lesson is very much designed to titillate, with the in-game model giving the player ample opportunity to leer as she leans forward or crouches down to pick up her pen, suitably “shocked” reaction animations already in place should anyone take the opportunity.
The sad thing is, visually speaking, the demo actually looks really pretty, with the room in which it is set beautifully lit and featuring some superbly detailed textures. We’re genuinely excited to see how Project Morpheus is coming along, and will without a doubt be trying all of the VR demos for ourselves at Tokyo Game Show later this month, but at the same time, Summer Lesson really isn’t the kind of thing that we’d especially like video game-skeptics to ever catch a glimpse of, and we can’t help thinking that Sony perhaps ought to have left VR experiences of this kind to the bedroom modders rather than using a platform as public as Tokyo Game Show to broadcast its virtual reality message to Japan, which in its current form will most likely serve only to perpetuate the notion that video games are, in fact, still very much for horny teenagers and lonely men.