Speaking exclusively to GamesRadar+ at GDC this week, President of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida revealed that the London Heist demo for PS4’s Morpheus virtual reality device used to allow players to point a the gun at themselves and pull the trigger.
The key phrase here, though, is ‘used to’. This feature was removed before the demo was shown to media and the public, and it shows that Sony is already considering the ethics of virtual reality.
“Originally, when the Sony London team was making the London Heist demo, they had the ability for you to shoot yourself,” explains Yoshida. “You could point your gun at yourself. And that felt wrong - it was too stressful - so they removed it. The medium is so powerful, so we need to be careful with what we provide.”
Full immersion within a virtual world brings up all kinds of fresh moral and ethical questions, especially when it comes to creating works of fantasy like video games. While most of Morpheus’ impressive games are currently passive experiences, these issues are already starting to be raised. And as the medium grows, they'll only come up faster.
Later in the interview, Yoshida reveals that “personally I’d like to see a game like P.T. working with Morpheus… something really, really scary.” While this would undoubtedly be terrifying, it doesn’t cross the same moral boundary of allowing players to physically harm themselves.
Oh, and Mr Kojima? Please make P.T. a reality on Morpheus…