Fall 2017

How Much is That Doggy in the PJs?

Meet Peanut, the corgi star of a virtual-reality game created by two Tufts engineering alums.

By Monica Jimenez

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Peanut the corgi stars in a new virtual-reality game created by Tufts alumni.

Standing in a lush yard under a sunny blue sky, you look down, and there he is: a brown-and-white Welsh corgi with pointy ears and beaming eyes. Crouching, you pat his head and scratch his furry white neck and chest. He rolls over—tongue lolling, paws waving in the air—as you rub his belly.

Ready to take him home? There’s just one thing you should know: He’s not real.

Meet Peanut, the star of RoVR—a virtual-reality game by Ridgeline Labs, a start-up cofounded by Henry Zhou, E17, and Jeremy Slavitz, E17. Don a virtual-reality headset, and the pup appears in your goggle screens. Using a pair of controllers, you can throw a stick, put on Peanut’s leash, or dress him in PJs or a dragon costume.

The game—now deep into development, thanks to some financial help from Tufts and MIT start-up accelerators—is surprisingly satisfying. “Just being in the presence of this thing that you perceive as being alive, that loves you and is happy to see you, has a really positive emotional impact,” said Zhou. “I think the reason goes deep into our evolutionary history—as social creatures, we feel this sense of ease when we’re with another living thing we can trust, especially a dog.”

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