There was no doubt who the star of the show at GDC was: Sony Computer Entertainment’s President, Worldwide Studios, Phil Harrison. Harrison managed to blitz a goodly part of the generally-held disappointment and even downright animosity meted out to the botched PS3 launch by unveiling Second Life-like 3D avatar-based online service Home and the innovative user-generated content game LittleBigPlanet
Directly after Shigeru Miyamoto’s keynote – slightly later than planned, as Harrison was given a seat in the front row for Miyamoto’s rather lacklustre address, then trapped in crowds of Nintendo-lovers for a while afterwards – we managed to catch up with Harrison on the Sony stand, for an interview in which we could drill down a bit deeper into Home (which was indeed running on a PS3 in the interview room, and Harrison launched it several times during the interview to illustrate different points) and LittleBigPlanet
. This is what he said.
The day after Phil Harrison’s keynote speech at GDC, we had a further chance to interview him for 20 minutes or so. Naturally, the focus was on the implications and details of Home and LittleBigPlanet
– and naturally, there were things that Harrison was reluctant to divulge just yet. But his answers – which were punctuated my moving around a live version of Home operating on a PS3 in the interview room – should help give you even more of an insight into the two hotly anticipated items.
Home looks great, but it begs a few questions. Presumably there will be moderation, at least in the public spaces
Exactly right. Public spaces will be moderated, and we’ll use the same rules of parental control as we do for the PlayStation Network, so parents can control whether people have access to the network or not. Then, in the private spaces, it’s unmoderated -- exactly in the same way that you can send an e-mail to somebody with an attachment on it, or you could have a video chat with somebody.
In terms of some of the actions you can do within the world, presumably there’s no adult content there?
Well, it’s absolutely deliberate that there is no physical impact between characters, between avatars. We are going to have animations that will allow you to shake somebody’s hand or to have some social touch but in a very, you know, appropriate way. But no, we’re not going to have ‘those’ kind of animations that I’m imagining that you’re thinking about.
What about uploading porn from your PS3’s hard-disk to your private space? And maybe inviting people you don’t necessarily know back and them being slightly offended by what they see, then going to a moderator?
Well I’m disappointed that you would use those as the first questions. I think Home should be used for a much wider and more beneficial scope than that, but I think that people can express their creativity inside Home in a wide variety of ways and it’s not necessarily for us to dictate what that should be. However, if somebody feels uncomfortable about an encounter on Home, it’s very easy for them to ban that person from their friends list…