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Niantic's John Hanke thinks VR is a "problem for society" because it's too immersive

Niantic's John Hanke thinks VR is a "problem for society" because it's too immersive

Niantic Labs' CEO John Hanke has claimed that VR games are going to be a "problem for society" due to their immersive nature.

Speaking at London Games Festival 2017, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz, Hanke stated that the immersive nature of VR games discourages people from interacting with others, which may be an issue as it becomes more widespread.

Go outside

"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 said.

"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."

He added that Niantic is unlikely to make VR a focus at all. It is instead dedicated to AR games such as its flagship title Pokemon GO since they require players to go outside and interact with the real world.

Pokemon GO continues to be a huge success for Niantic Labs, scoring three BAFTA nominations. However, research from the British Medical Journal claimed that while there were some health benefits during the first six weeks after a download, it did not make a significant impact on people's walking habits in the long-term.


Deputy Editor

Ric has written for PocketGamer.biz for as long as he can remember, and is now Deputy Editor. He likes trains.

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Greg Quinn CEO/Lead Developer at Meltdown Interactive Media
It's no different from somebody lying on their couch alone at home, eyes glued to the tv while playing on their favourite console, or sitting in front of the pc, eyes glued to their monitor. Society has put up with this for years, I'm sure it will be able to do the same with VR.

VR is still in its infancy, and I wouldn't be surprised if those VR 'treadmills' which adapt to running and movement by the player become a common household item in the future. In fact if this does happen, it will be seen as a step forward for gaming over someone lying on the couch.

Another factor with games like Pokemon Go, is the safety and legal factor, we've all heard of reports of people trespassing to find a Pokemon, or running into a busy road, in the VR space, the user will always be in a safe and controlled environment in their home.