Mobile gaming

Hong Kong start-up releases first locally-made virtual reality games

Meridian Digital Entertainment has broken ground with two virtual reality games

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 10:39am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 1:33pm

A Hong Kong developer has released the city’s first locally-developed virtual reality (VR) games - but interested consumers can’t buy them yet.

Victor Dao, director of Meridian Digital Entertainment, teamed up with MTR mall Popcorn to showcase its latest virtual reality games to consumers. Titled “Treasure Diving” and “Sky-Walker”, Dao aims to work with businesses to help more people experience virtual reality.

“Virtual reality is still not trendy yet, and it’s expensive technology. Not many people will have this technology at home,” Dao said. “So we want to start with a business-to-business model to first raise public awareness about virtual reality technology.”

The company’s “Treasure Diving” is a first-person perspective game which can be played sitting down while wearing a VR headset. In the game, the player is swimming underwater, and navigates by turning his head in the direction he wants to swim. The aim of the game is to collect as many jewels as possible to rack up points.

In contrast, “Sky-walker” is a more interactive game, since it works with a HTC Vive headset that allows users to walk around within the game itself. Players are given a hand-held control, which serves as a gun in the game. They have to balance themselves on a glass bridge in the game and use the gun to shoot down balloons as they float by.

“We decided to start VR R&D over a year ago, and spent seven to eight months in research. We had to learn from scratch and figure out how to render 360 degree video for VR,” said Dao.

Dao’s company currently works exclusively with businesses to create VR games, but he expects to start releasing games to consumers next year once VR headsets become more affordable. Later in the month, Dao will also work with Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay and other malls such as Elements in Kowloon to launch more virtual reality games for shoppers.

Dao also said that Meridian is working on educational VR games designed to help students.

“Some students might find learning about history boring. But if we can make history come alive with virtual reality, where they are able to experience history as if they were there, then it would be much more interesting,” he said.

Apart from virtual reality games, Dao said that Meridian is also experimenting with other technology such as mixed reality - in which digital and physical objects interact in real time - and augmented reality, where images are superimposed onto a view of the real world. The latter was recently made popular through Pokemon Go, an augmented reality smartphone game where users go around catching Pokemon creatures which appear superimposed on their camera screens in the game.