Virtual Reality is really quite amazing. The media has always had the ability to take us away from the redundancy of day-to-day life, but prior to VR, there was always a clearly defined boundary: I’m here, and the screen/book/controller is over there. New devices like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR are starting to blur this line, as the level of immersion they offer is unlike any other prior technology.
Especially with older generations, there has been concern that, as games become better and better, more and more people will choose to forgo real world goals for digital experiences. John Hanke, CEO of Niantic and one of the brains behind the wildly popular Pokémon GO mobile app, seems to think this is a legitimate threat, at least when it comes to VR.
At the Virtual Reality Summit in London earlier this week, Hanke voiced his concerns by saying that he’s “afraid [VR] can be too good.” The bulk of his concern seems to rest on the isolating effect that VR gaming can have. He notes that, for people to live well, they require social connection, access to the outdoors, and exercise—three things that VR does not facilitate.
“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.
“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.” — John Hanke
As companies like Facebook attempt to move more and more of our lives into the virtual space, perhaps Hanke’s concern is justified. But for now, his comments should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, as he went on to praise Augmented Reality (AR) games (which he conveniently happens to make) for their pro-social benefits immediately after knocking VR.
What do you think? Is VR the harbinger of the end times? Or is it just a harmless new way of enjoying content? Sound off below!