Virtual reality seems to be the only topic that is being developed at all in the realm of video games.
Right now, it looks to be that virtual reality will be the next revolution in video games; a third of employees at Valve are working on something related to virtual reality.
But Isn’t Every Video Game Some Kind Of Virtual Reality?
Yes, every game is a virtual reality of some kind, but the virtual reality that I will be writing about is a virtual reality that is able to completely trick a sense into thinking it is real. The virtual reality developments going on today are developments in sight, the predominant sense in Humans.
Saying that all video games are virtual realities is not accurate, because, to date, no video game has been able to accurately portray a reality indistinguishable to our senses than a real reality.
The Moral Importance Of Virtual Reality
In Language class, I read an essay titled, The moral Importance of Fiction and Literature that argued fiction allows for experimentation of any topic without anyone getting [at least physically] hurt. This is even more true with Virtual Reality; when one is reading a book, it is much easier to disbelieve the reality than if you see it with your own two eyes.
Fiction also has the power to influence someone through sympathy, which will be only amplified
Virtual reality seems like the best thing since the internet, it is decentralized, and will allow for the pen and brush to find new mediums to scribble its knowledge and imagination over.
There is still the possibility that abuse of virtual reality could lead to a world that is better off without it.
I read a book once that presented a world where a single virtual reality had essentially replaced the real reality. The virtual reality presented was a for-profit, single massive multiplayer online server, that made people pay the company that owned the servers to move between locations, and to do nearly anything. During the plot of the book, a monopolistic corporation almost had complete power over the servers, and would therefore be able to control the whole world.
This type of virtual reality is a type that the world would be better off without. virtual reality is the internet on steroids, it allows for instantaneous, global communications at a much higher quality than anything offered on the internet.
To stop abuse of virtual reality, there must be a way to keep the corporations that are developing virtual reality from abusing it. Asimov once created a rule set for robots to abide by. The rules were very vague, but were able to provide a boundary that satisfied everyone’s worries about artificial intelligence.
So for this essay, I have created a rule set with a similar intent to Asimov.
- The virtual reality must be able to be run on a generic home computer, and may not be owned by one, or multiple coordinating, parties
- The virtual reality may not ever bring harm to any user, with the exception of mental pain from the users experiences
- The users must be able to leave the virtual reality at any time they choose
- The servers which run the virtual reality must communicate with the users in a universal language
- The virtual reality must be usable for any purpose, and may not be controlled by a single system, centralized or decentralized.
- The virtual reality may not replace the real reality.
Six rules, that’s all it takes to make a good virtual reality.
I would be surprised if the rules I conceived above would be a tenth as famous as Asimov’s laws. However the rules themselves don’t matter very much, they can be written countless different ways. What matters is the principle that keep virtual reality in the interest of the common population.
Opiate Of The masses
The socialist Karl Marx once proclaimed that, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Karl Marx believed that religion was a tool used by the aristocracy to keep themselves rich and powerful, while the poor were kept brainwashed of their situation. While I will not comment on the validity of Marx’s proclamation, I will say that virtual reality could be used as an opiate in the same way as Marks believed religion to be used. It is very possible for virtual reality to cause a dystopia; a bureaucracy, or a government, or a corporation, or a moral, or another technology to instill control through virtual reality, by keeping the common population unaware of their current situation.
As I said above, virtual reality has the power to influence people at a higher concentration than fiction on other mediums. As of any influence, it can be exploited. My literature (no, not Language; my school has both language and literature as separate classes) lectured us on an article on the decline in intellectualism in the modern era. My teacher was telling us about how the television has seriously caused a decline in the intellectualism. The article was citing a debate for a local election between Abraham Lincoln and [NOT Fredrick] Douglass. the author went on about the standards of what was “normal” in language has declined ever since.
On October 16th, 1854, the citizens of Peoria, Illinois gathered for a debate between two famous men: Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The debate began with a three hour speech from Douglass to which Lincoln was to respond. When it was Lincoln’s turn to speak, he reminded the audience that it was already 5:00 PM. He informed his audience that he would need at least three hours to respond to Douglas’s speech, and suggested that the audience go home, eat dinner, and come back for the rest of the debate. The audience amiably agreed, left, and returned to hear another four hours of speaking (Postman).
My teacher pointed out that the people who were listening to these debates were rich people with a lot of time, and then proceeded to point out the authors blame television for the decline of intellectualism.
I realized a flaw in the thought process of the author. I reasoned to my teacher that before television, the debates and other things like it were exclusively available to the rich people who had time to listen to the long debates, and that the television and other innovations in the way of technology have provided the poor with the means to listen to debates; but the poor didn’t have as much time, so language had to get less “intellectual” in order for the new audience to be satisfied.
My teacher agreed that the de-intellectualizing of language does not have to be a bad thing, it is just simply a change. My teacher referenced sublimital advertising that first happened during the late 50s where an advertisement was cut into a movie for a single frame. My teacher said that when people found out, they were left with the decision of whether or not the change was good or not. In this case people decided that it was not good, and legislatures quickly moved against it.
The same decision will inevitably face us again with virtual reality; but we have to make sure that the decision is being made by us, and not those who could profit off of it.