CEO of Niantic Calls Immersive VR, 'Problem for Society,' Advocates for More AR Development

posted on by Amanda Whalen

John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic, which made headlines with its wildly popular smartphone game Pokémon Go, recently gave his thoughts on Virtual Reality (VR) games at the Mixed Reality Summit in London.

He expressed concerns about the nature of VR, saying, “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...I mean I already have concerns about my kids playing too much Minecraft, and that's a wonderful game."

He continued by saying, "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. 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 called for the development of more Augmented Reality (AR) games like Pokémon Go, pointing out the potential health benefits of games that encourage players to get outside and move. Hanke said, “There is research about the health impact of Pokémon Go in particular but you can expand that to apply to all AR games. These games can encourage people to be more active than they would normally be... I think there's a ton of good that can be done.”

Over the course of the interview, Hanke also mentioned that Niantic is working on a new version of Ingress, the game used as the template for Pokémon Go. The new version would include new features and social options. Other information has yet to be released.

Pokémon Go was launched in select countries in July 2016 and has since been released in more than 100 countries and territories. The game was also released for Apple Watch in December 2016. An update in February added 80 new Generation 2 Pokémon to the game.

Source: VR Focus via Hachima Kikou, cover photo credit: NVIDIA Corporation: (license)

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