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Sony Used a Weird Dating Sim to Demo Its VR Headset

Immerse yourself in teen life.

by Adam Owen
Jun 22 2015, 3:33pm

Image: Sony/YouTube

Virtual Reality dominated E3 this year, with Oculus demonstrating a hand-held control interface and Microsoft's Hololens redefining tabletop gaming. Project Morpheus, Sony's entry into the field also made waves with its vision for in-game interaction and it was, well, odd.

Sony, working with Namco's Katsuhiro Harada, the man behind the popular Tekken series of fighting games, showed off the latest iteration of Summer Lesson, the "VR Character Communication Demo" on which much of Project Morpheus' capabilities have been demonstrated.

It's not quite a game; it's more of a "teen simulator." When Sony first showed Summer Lesson in 2014, a different iteration placed the user in the bedroom of a female classmate, hanging out. This time, you're at a seaside villa with a different girl, but from the two minute trailer, it seems like there's not much more to do than just chat and flirt. The girl laughs, scrunches up her face, and leans in close. The intimate moment is only punctuated by the avatar of Harada himself walking in on the scene like so many poorly timed parents of our youth.

With an acoustic singer-songwriter soundtrack and bumpers pleading, "She's right there beside you" and "She's waiting for your answer," Sony positions the immersivity of Project Morpheus within an evocative appeal to the nostalgia of teenage romance. While it's a logical position to take, Sony is no doubt aware that historically, dating simulators have failed to find the same audience in North America than they enjoy in Japan. It's possible they're convinced that all this continent needs is an immersive enough experience, or perhaps they took a look at the action-oriented demos of their competitors and tried to secure attention by going in a different direction.

It's worth mentioning that, while a VR companion might appeal to some people, if you intend to go a little farther with your virtual partner, you'll find better opportunities with Oculus, which, unlike Project Morpheus, will allow adult content.