The Preston man behind PlayStation’s futuristic VR system


Meet the Lancashire man who pioneered PlayStation VR that has been snapped up by more than five million gamers.

Simon Benson, from Walton-le-Dale, Preston, was a founder member of the PlayStation VR project and supported all of its VR launch titles.

As the former director of Sony’s Immersive Technology Group he has helped change the face of gaming by realising the possibility of virtual reality on PlayStation – and oversaw every aspect of the system.

The virtual reality system created new opportunities for a wide range of immersive entertainment experiences by bringing it into the heart of gamers’ homes across the world.

Simon has over 25 years of commerical immersive development experience, and during his career he has lead multi-million dollar AAA game projects, pioneered “stereoscopic 3D console gaming” and is cited as inventor on over 50 patents.

The PlayStation VR pioneer is now set to lead a unique training academy for the next generation of real-time developers at the first UK Unity Centre of Excellence.

He is spearheading the training programme at the first Unity Centre of Excellence in the UK at innovation hub HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology in MediaCityUK.

It follows the announcement of HOST’s partnership with Unity, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content.



Simon Benson, former director of Sony’s Immersive Technology Group

The Unity Centre of Excellence at HOST, operated by IN4.0 Group and run by Blackburn entrepreneur Mo Isap, is launching the only academy in the UK where learners will receive unrivalled certified training directly from Unity’s professional instructors.

Simon, HOST’s director of immersive technology, is perfectly placed to support future innovators with the mentorship, partners and technology they need to disrupt the RT3D world.

The programme is for recent graduates, career changers or those looking to upskill as a Unity developer, and it is due to start on June 21. Applications are now open with limited places available.

The academy offers a 12-week remote learning course to equip students with the technical and soft skills they need to accelerate a career in tech as a Unity Certified Professional Programmer.

The programme includes real-life industry projects with leading partners from advanced manufacturing, architectural engineering, health and creative media.

Learners will also receive personal mentoring and dedicated career support, alongside employability workshops and CV assessments, with a commitment of a guaranteed job interview once they have successfully completed and qualified from the course.

“With Unity’s UK Centre of Excellence as an integral component of HOST’s capabilities, we are ideally placed to lead the immersive and interactive revolution that is already influencing many industries such as video gaming, architecture, healthcare and manufacturing,” said Simon.

“Establishing Unity’s UK Centre of Excellence at HOST brings a fantastic blend of high demand skills generation, cutting edge innovation and unparalleled business support, ensuring that MediaCityUK is the only place to be if you’re in the real-time development space.”

The Unity Centre of Excellence at HOST will define a new premium standard of skills generation in Unity,” said Nicole Zingg, Global Head of Channel Partnerships, at Unity.

“With the pace of innovation across industries, the academy is built to support the next generation of skills needed both for the roles of today and tomorrow.”

Sony confirmed earlier this year that it was developing a new version of its PlayStation VR (PSCR) headset to go with the latest PS5 console, which launched at the end of last year.

The gaming giant said a new VR headset that is currently in development will offer the “ultimate entertainment experience, with dramatic leaps in performance and interactivity”.

The new system will also include a new “VR controller”, which Sony said will incorporate some key features of the DualSense wireless controller used with the PS5 console.

PSVR has been a success for Sony since its launch, having sold more than five million units as of the beginning of 2020.

The company has yet to confirm any release date for the new VR system, saying in March that the new headset and controllers remained under development.

“There’s still a lot of development under way for our new VR system, so it won’t be launching in 2021,” spokesman Hideaki Nishino said. “But we wanted to provide this early update to our fans, as the development community has started to work on creating new worlds for you to explore in virtual reality.

“With both PlayStation VR and the next-generation VR system we’re building, our commitment to virtual reality as a medium for games is stronger than ever. We look forward to sharing more details in the future.”

For more information and to apply for the first training programme at the Unity Centre of Excellence Academy, visit: https://www.hostcoe.com

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