Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's game developers breaking ground with virtual reality

Some St. John's designers are breaking ground with a new type of video game — one that promises to change how you see the world.

Giant Cop one of the first games of it kind

Giant Cop breaking new ground

Here and Now

5 years ago
1:27
Newfoundland studio Other Ocean Interactive is developing one of the world's first commercial virtual reality games. 1:27

Some St. John's designers are breaking ground with a new type of video game — one that promises to change how you see the world.

Newfoundland studio Other Ocean Interactive is developing Giant Cop, one of the world's first commercial virtual reality games.

Players will don a headset, similar to goggles, and transform into a larger-than-life police officer, patrolling the streets of Micro City.

We're really excited to be one of the pioneers of that industry.- Stephen Jeffers

With two screens directly in front of your eyes, you'll see the virtual landscape before you. With your physical movements, you can control the actions of Giant Cop.

Towering over Micro City, you'll solve murders, pick up bad guys and literally throw them in the city's jail.

New frontiers

The game is part of the new trend in gaming — virtual reality. Developers like Other Ocean promise to offer gaming experiences that are unmatched.

"It's a really new frontier," said producer Stephen Jeffers. "We're really excited to be one of the pioneers of that industry."

It's an industry that's trying to expand rapidly, with many big names — Sony, Facebook, HTC — launching their own VR projects.

Financial advisory firm Deloitte predicted that the virtual reality gaming industry would make more than $1 billion in 2016.

Old meets new

Game developers Other Ocean Interactive say the story takes the form of a 1970s police drama. (giantcop.com)

The game requires players to walk around their own rooms, with their actions matched in the virtual world.

Despite the unique experience, Jeffers says the game is propelled by its storytelling

"You're in this 1970s, 1980s cop-drama," he says.

"Almost like the old TV shows. We drew a lot of inspiration from things like Starsky and Hutch and Streets of San-Francisco."

The 1970s style of Giant Cop was set in stone from the beginning, even when Other Ocean was simply planning a normal computer game.
Stephen Jeffers says his company is in at the ground floor of an exciting gaming trend. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Designers switched to a virtual-reality approach after getting some encouragement from gaming-giants Valve.

"Once we tried it, we said VR is totally going to be the next wave, and the future, so we should jump in on this," said studio head Ryan Hale

The virtual-reality Giant Cop is still in pre-production, but the designers are hoping for a launch in the fall.

Modern economies

Hale says the buzz around the upcoming product has propelled his firm into the spotlight.

"We're not only playing now on a local level or a national level. We are on the global scale," he said.

"We're in early enough to get in on the ground floor of this massive industry."

We want to keep people here.- Ryan Hale

The studio says their path might be able to offer a lesson for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Unlike oil and gas extraction, the entertainment market doesn't need any raw resources. That means they might be built to last.

"We hire locally, and we try to prevent any kind of brain drain going off of the island. We want to keep people here."

With files from Katie Breen

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