In a sense, all fantasy games are virtual reality games, including traditional board games such as Monopoly, Clue, and Life. Yet, modern computing power makes a world of difference. VR worlds appear so satisfyingly real that many people choose to live much of their recreational lives in them, whether on websites such as Second Life or in video games. Life in cyberspace, after all, is so much more glamorous and exciting than it is in “meatspace.” We can make all our fantasies come true with a few clicks – well, virtually true anyway.
The technical possibilities for and the attraction of VR were foreseen in science fiction. Well before Caprica, Virtuosity, The Thirteenth Floor, and The Matrix, there were movies such as
(1977) in which unwitting characters are tested for survival skills in a VR
environment. As far back as 1935 characters in the short story Pygmalion’s Spectacles by Stanley
Weinbaum don VR goggles and interact with virtual people in virtual worlds.
Perhaps the silent film Sherlock, Jr.
in which Buster Keaton leaves a theater audience and jumps into the action on a
movie screen contains something of the idea, too. Blood City
Just how much of real life are some folks willing (or eager) to trade for virtual life?
is usually ahead of the curve
when it comes to integrating technology into daily life, and the trend there is
toward ever-more. In particular, romance is increasingly of the virtual kind, a
trend that has prompted numerous news stories and editorials. “I don’t like
real women,” commented one fellow on the Japanese 2channel. "They're too picky nowadays. I'd much rather have a
virtual girlfriend." He’s not alone. A government study released a month
ago reported a spike in the number of unmarried men; it also noted that 61% of the
singles didn’t have a real girlfriend and 45% had no interest at all in finding
one. Nor is it just a male phenomenon. "Maybe we're just advanced human
beings," said one female Japan
fashion editor,” according to an article in The
Guardian. “Maybe we’ve learned how to service ourselves.” The majority of
young Japanese still prefer live partners, of course, but who knows for how
long? And will the rest of the world be far behind? Last summer the game maker Konami released the updated game Love Plus+, and, as a promotion, hosted
a romantic holiday weekend at the resort town Atami for players and their
virtual girlfriends. It was a smashing success. Tokyo
Call me old-fashioned or stuck in the 80s, but virtual partners don’t do it for me. For my simulated romance, I want a real silicon-and-wire robot.
Wired for Love