Sony had some thrilling news at GDC 2014 where they revealed their virtual reality headset prototype! They praise the potential of virtual reality for the entertainment platform, but also acknowledge the challenges they are facing with Project Morpheus, to make VR a part of gaming in the near future.

Project MorpheusSony is working with tech providers like Epic, Crytek, Havok, Unity and Autodesk to “make PlayStation the best place for VR – not only for people playing VR but for people developing for VR”. The rules for games will definitely change, as the players will be in the middle of the game world, rather than being an observer of it. Racing games could be helped immeasurably with a steering wheel and pedals because they mirror what developers can show in-game, and with shooters and sports games, PlayStation Move could act as a convincing surrogate for the player’s in-game weapon, racquet or bat.

Virtual reality won’t be a solitary pursuit. Seeing another player’s movements in the same VR space has a remarkably powerful effect and the Morpheus devkit also has the ability to mirror the player’s view on the TV as well, allowing other people to watch along. Quickfire minigame-type experiences could encourage a pass-the-headset style of play, and VR might also inspire asymmetrical multiplayer games in which the virtual reality user is pitched against players using gamepads and the TV screen.

Morpheus’ display is 1080p and has a 90+ degree field of vision; there’s an audio jack on the unit and wireless headsets will be compatible; Sony will look to make the consumer version wireless, though the prototype is wired; Sony isn’t working with Oculus to unify the development environment, but it is open to doing so and finally, the amount of power required to enable VR means Vita and mobile compatibility are unlikely at this point.

At GDC attendees could already get a taste of virtual reality thanks to an intriguing set of demos. Sony London’s The Deep takes players underwater, bringing them up close with sharks and other predators while The Castle places a Move controller in each of the player’s hands to simulate firing different weapons. CCP’s Eve Valkyrie and a special Thief demo, tweaked for use with Morpheus, provides a glimpse of what external studios have been able to achieve with the technology thus far.

Imagine what virtual reality could do for sim racing: sitting in a Playseat® gaming chair, it will look and feel like you are in the cockpit of a fast car. You will see the surroundings of Formula 1 tracks or impressive landscapes around you!