You could say Virtual Reality is a big trend right now… But that’s not the whole picture: Virtual Reality is a venue for experience, recreating our world into a fantasy land with the help of video games (as well as other, more grounded applications).
However, the biggest advancements in science are also the most polarizing ones, and with VR, there are real concerns about virtual worlds “supplanting” our need for, well, the real thing. This takes us to the Mixed Reality Summit, where VR (Virtual Reality) experts and entrepreneurs from all over the world discuss the future of this technology.
It was quite a surprise to see Niantic Labs’ CEO, John Hanke, speak on behalf of the people behind Pokémon GO on how VR might end up taking us away from the real world.
“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 says, citing his worries over his children, who spend hours in front of Minecraft.
Minecraft, incidentally, was used in Hololen’s demo to showcase the power of virtual realities in games.
Hanke, being the man behind the biggest AR (Augmented Reality, what Pokémon GO does) hit so far, focused his comments on Virtual Reality, heralding AR (which instead gamifies the real world around you), as a solution.
Hanke looks at Pokemon GO and says there still “huge amount of potential” for it to better society, due to how these games do encourage people to be more active and step outside. “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 adds.
Hanke makes a strong case for how VR can be deceptively isolating, but despite Pokémon GO’s nature of making you leave the house, the fact you step outside doesn’t change how you are still focused on the virtual elements created by the game. As some incidents have demonstrated in the past, this can be just as harmful to players and society.
Niantic did state at one point they wanted Pokémon GO to make the world a better place by uniting people and getting them moving, but if anything, it’s useful to remember Augmented Reality shares some of Virtual Reality’s issues.
While some of you might find the premise of forgetting about the “real world” absurd… The more introverted types might feel it hitting a bit closer to home (especially in VR which lets you escape into entirely different places). Even then, VR is too powerful and full of possibilities to throw under the bus just yet.
Oh, and Pokémon GO recently updated and now you can catch Shiny Pokémon.