Pokemon Go boss is afraid of a dystopian VR future

One of the main figures behind the most successful augmented reality games of all time has spoken of his fears about the future of virtual reality.

Games Industry reports that Niantic CEO John Hanke told an audience at London Games Festival’s Mixed Reality Summit that he feels a lot more comfortable about AR than he does VR.

"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. "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.

"With AR, there’s a huge amount of potential to do things that really do have a positive impact on people. There is research about the health impact of Pokemon 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.

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."

Hanke, perhaps unsurprisingly, played down the possibility of future VR projects from Niantic, saying that others were better equipped for the job. He did speculate, though, that AR and VR will see a certain level of convergence.

Speaking of Ready Player One, Warner Bros last month announced a partnership with Vive maker HTC for the creation of virtual reality content to accompany 2018’s Ready Player One film.

The movie, which is being helmed by Steven Spielberg, is an adaptation of the Ernest Cline book of the same name. Cline has also co-written the screenplay. The plot involves a mystery surrounding the creator of a virtual world. It stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn and Simon Pegg.

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