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VR could change the way games are rated

2 min read

Rated T for Trauma

VR is poised to change the way we play games in the coming years. I’m not a fan of all VR experiences, mostly because some of them really do make me feel queasy, but I did have two absolutely stellar face-on times with PlayStation VR that convinced me just how fun and immersive the gameplay could be. However, it’s that very immersion that might change the way games are rated once VR is released in the wild.

Shuhei Yoshida recently commented that a new ratings system might be needed for games that could cause trauma. This might seem like an exaggeration, but VR could cause such instances. When playing a horrifying game normally, it is easy enough to look away or be snapped out of the immersion. Sure, games can be gripping and realistic, but the fact that what you’re viewing is clearly displayed on a screen can keep players grounded in reality.

In VR, often the only way to block out what is happening is by closing one’s eyes. Looking away just deepens the immersion as everywhere you look the virtual version of reality is reenforced. In a game like London Heist I was genuinely convinced the one character was going to put his cigarette out on me, and during the Kitchen demo, I felt genuine horror. If these are just launch games or experiences, imagine the depths of creation that we could see in the form of horror or reenactments that could cause real horror and trauma for some players.

Speaking to MCV, PEGI operations director said:

PEGI should examine the coming wave of VR products using the current questionnaire, but reserve the right to reassess certain elements – more specifically the criteria around fear (currently rated PEGI 7) and horror (as in non-violent scary imagery, currently rated PEGI 12) – once a broader range of products hits the market in the coming period of time.

I’m glad that there will be a reassessment of the ratings system for VR experiences; if PEGI does it, I’m sure the other ratings groups will follow suit. Due to the nature of the technology, it is even more difficult for parents to monitor the media their kids would be consuming in VR and a tougher rating system could be necessary. Even adults could benefit from fair warning about just how scary an experience could be – I’m serious, that Kitchen demo made grown men cower.

Last Updated: November 20, 2015

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