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What it's like to experience the internet

Mike Elgan | Aug. 15, 2016
The technology-using public now demands more than mere information. They want to feel like they're really there.

Pokémon Go is a huge hit. But why?

The game is made by Niantic, a Google spinoff that previous published Field Trip and Ingress.

If Pokémon Go is a hit, Field Trip was a flop and Ingress was a semi-hit. What accounts for the relative popularity of Niantic's three apps?

If you're unfamiliar with Field Trip, the app alerted you to facts about your current location. For example, it could notify you if you're at the location of a famous movie scene or historical event.

Ingress, on the other hand, is a game like Pokémon Go in the sense that it's location based and pits teams against each other. But Ingress is a vastly more complex game than Pokémon Go, with a long list of rules and strategy best practices to learn.

There are all kinds of theories about the radical popularity of Pokémon Go. But one way to look at all three apps is that Field Trip focuses on information, Pokémon Go focuses on experience and Ingress is a kind of hybrid of information and experience, and their relative popularity reflects the degree to which each favors experience over information.

Virtual reality

While mixed reality games and applications like Pokémon Go provide a "virtual experience" lite, full-blown virtual reality (VR) is explicitly and completely about creating "virtual experience."

VR is assumed to be all about games. But games, and especially "first-person shooter," "open world" and other game types are already highly experience-oriented. VR games will be great. But the real VR revolution will be in applications that replace information-intensive activities like reading, social networking and business communication with a "virtual experience" of "being there" and "doing that."

Of course, we'll always have more information coming at us than we could process in a thousand lifetimes. But the new world of "virtual experience" will give us more appealing and human ways to learn, communicate and play.

Now sit back, put on those goggles and experience the rise of "virtual experience."


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