Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Pokemon Go Boss Says VR Might Be "Too Good," Could Negatively Impact Society

Virtual reality is a big trend in gaming and across other entertainment mediums. There is some concern, however, that the technology might not be the best thing for society.

John Hanke, the CEO of Pokemon Go developer Niantic Labs, offered his thoughts on the subject today at the Mixed Reality Summit in London. According to GI.biz, Hanke said VR has the potential to be "too good" and might lead to people wanting to spend extended periods of time in digital worlds.


"My thing about VR is I'm afraid it can be too good, in the sense of being an experience that people want to spend a huge amount of time in," he said. "I mean I already have concerns about my kids playing too much Minecraft, and that's a wonderful game.

"We're human beings and there's a lot of research out there that shows we're actually a lot happier when we get exercise, when we go outside--and outside in nature in particular," he added. "I think it's a problem for us as a society if we forgo that and spend all of time in a Ready Player One-style VR universe."

Hanke has been critical of VR in the past. Speaking to Recode last year, Hanke said VR can be an isolationist activity. "In a VR situation, you're isolating yourself from everyone around you and entering this completely virtual space," he said at the time.

Going back to his talk at the Mixed Reality Summit, Hanke said augmented reality--which is at the core of Pokemon Go--has a "huge amount of potential" to do things that have a positive impact on humanity. Niantic has said one of its goals for Pokemon Go is to help make the world a better place.

"There is research about the health impact of Pokemon Go in particular but you can expand that to apply to all AR games," he said. "These games can encourage people to be more active than they would normally be. As a parent, part of my motivation for building this kind of game was to try and get my kids out of the house. I think there's a ton of good that can be done."

Also during the talk, Hanke said he foresees a day when AR and VR "converge into a single set of experiences."

As for Pokemon Go, the game now lets you catch shiny Pokemon.

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