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Virtual Reality games may require new ratings labels, Sony boss says

The industry will likely come up with a "slightly different ratings" system for VR games, Shuhei Yoshida says.

Virtual reality games have the potential to immerse players in worlds deeper and more vividly than ever. As such, violent games, or those including traumatic content, would theoretically be even more intense in virtual reality. Now, one of the biggest players in the virtual reality market, Sony, has spoken out to say new ratings labels might be needed for virtual reality games.


PlayStation boss Shuhei Yoshida told Digital Spy that Sony has considered the possible impact of violence in virtual reality. Violence in virtual reality games can be more "powerful" than in traditional games, he said, while also noting that he does not want to put limits on what developers create.

"It's pretty much giving you an experience with other people that you'd otherwise not have," he said. "If you are lucky, you won't have experienced getting a gun pointed at your head--it's scary, right? But that can be created easily in VR. It is intense. In one of our demos, you get yourself stabbed, and it's powerful.

"The power of the medium is so much so that, in the future, the industry will probably come up with slightly different ratings so that we can communicate to consumers what kind of contents are inside," he added. "It's early days but it's important, because we don't want to handcuff the creativity of developers. But it's a challenge for the future, as the media is so powerful, something could potentially cause trauma to people when they try that, because they've played something really awful."

On the flip-side, Yoshida said some developers are already creating virtual reality experiences that help people empathize with others.

"There are people around the world not as fortunate as us, but using virtual reality we can let people experience what it's like to be abused, or live in poverty. We hope this will contribute to decision-makers making some good decisions," he said.

Asked directly if he thought virtual reality would need its own unique ratings system, Yoshida said, "something like that I hope we can work on."

PlayStation VR launches in the first half of 2016. PlayStation president Andrew House has said the headset will be priced "as a new gaming platform," though he did not provide any specific figures. Sony has also released a new overview video for the headset, which reveals its specs.