According to Business Horizons, there are multiple forms of reality, most of which are used in an abstract sense and can be divided into three distinct categories, real constructs, virtual constructs and possible constructs. Real constructs refer to physical, tangible objects, (i.e. books, pencil, dog). Virtual constructs are of a digital existence but are undoubtedly real and have the capability to be interacted with; (i.e. computer programs, virtual assistants, digital currency). Possible constructs are unique, since they possess the aspect that they do not exist, yet, in any forms of reality; (i.e. philosophy, metaphysics, ideas).
Many science fiction books and films have imagined characters being "trapped in virtual reality" or entering into virtual reality. A comprehensive and specific fictional model for virtual reality was published in 1935 in the short story "Pygmalion's Spectacles" by Stanley G. Weinbaum. Other science fiction books have promoted the idea of virtual reality as a partial, but not total, substitution for the misery of reality, or have touted it as a method for creating virtual worlds in which one may escape from Earth. Laurence Manning's 1933 series of short stories, "The Man Who Awoke"—later a novel—describes a time when people ask to be connected to a machine that replaces all their senses with electrical impulses and, thus, live a virtual life chosen by them (à laThe Matrix, but voluntary, not imposed). Stanisław Lem's 1961 story "I (Profesor Corcoran)", translated in English as "Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy I", dealt with a scientist who created a number of computer-simulated people living in a virtual world. Lem further explored the implications of what he termed "phantomatics" in his nonfictional 1964 treatise Summa Technologiae.
A number of other popular fictional works use the concept of virtual reality. These include William Gibson's 1984 Neuromancer, which defined the concept of cyberspace, and his 1994 Virtual Light, where a presentation viewable in VR-like goggles was the MacGuffin. Other examples are Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, in which he made extensive reference to the term avatar to describe one's representation in a virtual world, and Rudy Rucker's The Hacker and the Ants, in which a programmer uses VR for robot design and testing. The Otherland series of 4 novels by Tad Williams, published from 1996 to 2001 and set in the 2070s, shows a world where the Internet has become accessible via virtual reality. More recently, the 2011 novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is about a virtual reality system called the OASIS that people use to escape from the grim reality of a dying Earth in 2045
The 1992 film The Lawnmower Man tells the tale of a research scientist who uses a VR system to jumpstart the mental and physical development of his mentally handicapped gardener.
The 1993 film Arcade is centered around a new virtual reality game (from which the film gets its name) that actively traps those who play it inside its world.
The 1995 film Strange Days is a science-fiction thriller about a fictional virtual reality trend in which users buy illegal VR recordings of criminal offences recorded from the offender's point of view (POV).
The 2010 science fictionthriller film Inception is about a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious. He creates artificial thoughts that are so realistic that once they are implanted in a person's mind, the person thinks these are his own thoughts.
OtherLife (2017) - about a form of biological virtual reality.
British BBC2 sci-fi series Red Dwarf featured a virtual reality game titled "Better Than Life", in which the main characters had spent many years connected.
Saban's syndicated superhero television series VR Troopers also made use of the concept.
The holodeck featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of the best known examples of virtual reality in popular culture, including the ability for users to interactively modify scenarios in real time with a natural language interface. The depiction differs from others in the use of a physical room rather than a neural interface or headset.
The 2012 series Sword Art Online involves the concept of a virtual reality MMORPG of the same name, with the possibility of dying in real life when a player dies in the game. In its 2014 sequel, Sword Art Online II, the idea of bringing a virtual character into the real world via mobile cameras is posed; this concept is used to allow a bedridden individual to attend public school for the first time
Accel World (2012) expands the concept of virtual reality using the game Brain Burst, a game which allows players to gain and receive points to keep accelerating; accelerating is when an individual's brain perceives the images around them 1000 times faster, heightening their sense of awareness.
The episode San Junipero of the science fiction anthology series Black Mirror features a simulated reality set in 1987 that the characters can inhabit, even past death.
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