With virtual reality (VR) growing in popularity and use, there will of course need to be more legal actions taken, such as classifications, to regulate it as a legitimate medium of entertainment. New Zealand’s Classification Office is now considering the ramifications of VR for its audience.
A group from the office tried out the PlayStation VR, and while being “blown away” by the experience, there was still much serious conversation, including classification criteria, and the impact of VR. It seems to be understood that videogames – which is what was looked at in particular – will still be classified in terms of whether or not is has sex, violence, or offensive language. However, will there be new classifications in line for such a different medium.
A Classification Officer, and boasted “resident games expert”, explained concerns: “When talking VR, everyone mentions the sense of presence. The trend in modern horror games has very much been about that sense of immersion to generate fear and tension. This has largely been achieved by introducing physicality to the player’s avatar — emulating a person’s perspective with in-game hands, panicked breathing and so on. With an increased sense of presence and the immediacy of motion control, VR has the potential to frighten people beyond anything currently in games. With even simple arcade games evoking physical responses like adrenaline or stress, I’m concerned about how VR might physically impact players and look forward to research in this area.”
The general conclusion to all of this is that it is still early days, and so there will be more understanding in the coming months – which is when the PlayStation VR actually launches.
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