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When Trapped Inside a Virtual World

Updated: 5 days ago

Skull with a str on the fore head.

(For a more general piece on virtual philosophy, click here)

Imagine you are playing in a virtual space, not necessarily VR related. When it comes to such places, especially games, and especially when they are free, the possibility of getting shut down for good always exists in some form or another. After all, when it is difficult to make a profit out of such servers, keeping them afloat would take more a toll than payment.

In a specific animation I'm currently watching, called Overlord, an entire game got shut down for good, meaning that there is no way to play it legally.

However, a certain office worker from the real world, who was playing the game at the time of the shutdown, got trapped in his character -- a literal demon lord of sorts with the possibility of controlling the world, or something along those lines.

This is actually a unique concept from a philosophical standpoint. Let's say you travel to a distant island nation, but something happens to the airport once you're already within the island, which means that you have no way of returning to your "real life".

That is a likely scenario I'm trying to portray as an analogy to this case study -- a literal young man who was playing a game and got trapped in it within the "prison" of his character.

Such obscurity, however, does not necessarily affect the rest of the virtual world the guy got himself into.

As long as he doesn't reveal his true identity and confess to his in-game followers that he's just an ordinary guy and not this celestial demon lord of heavenly wisdom, then he is basically surviving until the inevitable: The inevitable that his true identity will be known, that he is in fact a very ordinary guy who just happens to be addicted to video games.

Imagine such a thing happening in a future scenario with VR technology. Let's say something went wrong, to the point that you got literally trapped in another "reality" without going back. That seems, thus far, to be the basic premise of this show, and I wager it would be only a matter of time before the pretender will either escape or get exposed by his "fictional" followers.

These "fictional" characters who accompany this so-called demon lord, along with the rest of their world, obviously have no idea that they are nothing more than a simulation of a fantasy-esque reality. This means that, if they will find out the truth about their existence, then certain consequences could arise to the person who spat out such "nonsense" per se.

After all, when someone in our reality would claim that we live in a virtual simulation, then of course most of us wouldn't even bother to pay him/her any more serious attention.

Like with the "island nation" analogy, it could be a scary possibility that, in the far future, people would actually risk getting trapped in another reality (or place for that matter), while all they wanted to do is to enjoy themselves after school or work.

Obviously, I have no idea how such a thing can happen, but I genuinely think that it could be a possibility as technology will only further develop into monstrous proportions.

I never saw the literal usefulness in VR tech, even though I did want to experience feeling as if I am "inside another reality" or something. However, as life went on, I only came to the conclusion that it's nothing more than a screen you put on your face as you can move with controllers like one would do naturally in gaming consoles or even regular television.

Regardless, I won't be surprised if "society", however we are to define it, shall deem it the norm to use VR as a part of our daily lives, and not just for mere entertainment like in games.

I think that was Mark Zuckerberg's philosophy when it came to changing his company's name to Meta -- to attempt to revolutionize the way we live, whether we're like it or not.

Obviously, no one would necessarily force us into a VR set, but if "metaverses" are to get so common to the point that it will become a necessity, then our descendants might require these like we require smartphones nowadays and PCs. Of course, that we could use a "regular cell phone" like in the 2000's, instead, even though it'd be more difficult to get around in life with all these apps!

And, with certain new technologies, there might come new dangers as well; dangers like the one portrayed here. Let's be even more specific with analogies: imagine you sail on a ship, but the whole crew has mysteriously disappeared, and you are left on your own to deal with the high seas, without necessarily knowing how to actually sail a ship yourself.

It is similar in Overlord's case. You are literally encouraged to conquer a whole new kingdom, but even when you do, how could a low management office worker be expected to run a whole country, while trying to keep the fact that you have no idea what you're doing, from your "fictional" followers?

This is all the fun in interactive fiction, after all! The ability to pretend you are something that you're not and enjoy for a while; an escapism, nothing more.

I don't know if we are living in a virtual simulation. I have gained thus far no evidence that either supports or denies such theory. However, at least on a consciousness level, I won't be surprised if our mind, and not necessarily our brain, is capable of getting trapped in places that are deemed outside of reality!

After all, we don't really know for certain why we're dreaming, and for some of us, these dreams might appear real at least when one is to experience them while asleep. Who says such "electronic dreams" are impossible at any point in the future?

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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