If one of your favourite bits of Blue Planet is the “into the blue” section at the end where they show you how the magic is made, you might just love the new VR game from Curiscope (who made that super cool AR t-shirt).
Operation Apex follows on from Great White Sharks, which received over 25 million views, making it one of the most-viewed VR experiences of all time. The new game also features great white sharks, but is much more interactive: you’ve been hired as a research assistant by some of the best marine scientists in the world, and you’re going to help them find the biggest Great White Shark ever spotted.
You’ll be manning a research rig (sadly not Boaty McBoatface), exploring the depths to find hidden data. There’s a bigger meaning, too: the game helps you see with your own eyes exactly how humans have impacted the ocean and its fragile ecosystem.
Dr Enrico Gennari from Oceans Research, which contributed to the game, explains:
“We often forget that actually the best way to conserve is to have people caring about an issue, falling in love with a species, or even just changing perspective about it. I immediately loved the idea to be able to contribute to this project, as I saw a tool to reach a large audience, using a gaming tool to teach about the marine environment and the importance of every creature in it.”
The game’s press release includes the sobering fact that by 2050, the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by mass. So – again, like Blue Planet – as you discover the beauty and diversity of the ocean, you’ll also see with your own eyes how humans are screwing it all up.
This is one of the functions of VR that we’ve been most excited about: the potential for effective empathy. It would take a hard heart to dive down among the schools of fish, magnificent marine creatures and even the big bitey things, see what we’re doing to their world, and surface without a second thought. Softies be warned, though: there are some heartbreaking (simulated) images of shark finning.
Ben Kidd, co-founder of Curiscope, explains the thinking behind the game:
“As we all begin to come to terms with how deep our activity on land is impacting the ocean, we’re offering you awe and wonder along with some uncomfortable truths. We are all really excited to invite you underwater, for an adventure. To explore and discover the wonder of our oceans and its inhabitants ‘first hand’. Unlock the secrets we’ve hidden, witness the light and the darkness of the ocean for yourself, and go away with a deeper sense of connection between the land and the sea.”
Available on the amazing HTC Vive platform from today, Operation Apex costs £15.49 ($19.99) – not much to pay to go swimming with sharks in your own living room.