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Sony "Home" virtual platform

Thursday 29 Jan 2009

There’s no place like Home

Sony Entertainment 
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03/02/09 Susan Opton, Needham
This is a great example of how melding professions and integrating skills can produce something really interesting and unique. More businesses and industries should be thinking like this. It is not so far "out of the box" but unfortunately, it seems it is.


An architect’s dream world becomes Sony’s virtual one 

As real world commissions begin to dry up, perhaps there’s work in the virtual world. Such was experience of Kenji Ikemoto. The Tokyo-based architect was tapped by Sony Entertainment to design an online virtual world for its PlayStation 3 console. Dubbed 'Home', Sony’s new release is a social gaming community where gamers can find friends and play together.

Up until now, Sony has always hired programmers to design its gaming products. But when it saw an early release for Home and it fell short of its expectations, Sony decided to think out of the box and hire a real world architect for the project. It was a first for Sony and for Ikemoto too, whose firm is more accustomed to designing residential and commercial projects in and around Tokyo than video games. For the project, Sony gave Ikemoto carte blanche, asking only that the architect create a cityscape that rivaled the hip areas of Tokyo.

Using Vector Works, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Ikemoto created a realistic cityscape replete with plazas, buildings and streets within which are located cyber cafés, modern apartments and gaming rooms. As part of the project, Sony partnered with companies such as Ligne Roset, for example, to allow gamers to purchase products that appear in the virtual world for their real world home.

While Home hasn’t caught on with gamers yet, with most of the early reviews being mixed or critical calling the environment "nothing more than chic apartments, a mall, a bowling alley and a movie theatre”, it nonetheless represents a milestone for the gaming industry and an interesting experiment in community design, one that Ikemoto says “can actually be built if you spend the money”.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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