When Niantic teamed up with Nintendo to produce the game Pokemon Go not many people could see the benefits that would eventually be attributed to the game. The use of new technology allowed the player to see, capture, and train Pokemon creatures as if they existed in real locations in the real world. The game utilized GPS technology in a way that had not been attempted in quite the same way before.
It was downloaded over 500 million times and was praised, unusually for a video game, for promoting physical activity and helping local businesses with foot traffic as players had to get out into the world to find their Pokemon. It was a great way of using the augmented reality technology available and the smartphone’s GPS function. It created a virtual world but set the player in the real world and was even credited with helping autistic people or players suffering from social anxiety get out into the world and interact with it where they may not have done so before.
The benefits of virtual reality games like Pokemon Go in helping introverted gamers is only just being realized and there is massive potential for this to go a lot further. When you consider the nature of many MMORPGs you can begin to understand how this can help players become more social. The very essence of many games such World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy means that players have to interact with others in order to progress in the story or complete tasks. In World of Warcraft it is even possible to organize a party, make a Friends list, join public chats or create a chat in-game with your friends. This means that interactive elements to the games are launched with and by real people rather than just one-dimensional characters constructed for the purpose of the game.
As virtual reality technology becomes more advanced there will be an even greater opportunity for players to socialise in the virtual worlds created by the games developers. We have already seen PS4 create virtual casinos and action games where players interact with others to achieve bonuses or complete tasks.
Just the idea that video gaming is no longer something done by one individual in a dark bedroom somewhere is massive progress and it will be interesting how the market will develop as the VR technology becomes more widely available and cheaper to buy. The Nintendo Wii broke a lot of barriers upon its release just in the way it asked consumers to be more physically active when playing. There are even a number of titles aimed at those individuals looking to keep fit and active, from Punch-Out and Dance Dance Revolution to Skate It.
So the time of the introverted gamer looks like it is coming to an end and this has to be seen as a positive step for an industry that is still just scratching the surface of what hidden benefits it has to offer.