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Considering a real simulated reality

Mike Schramm

Those of you who are regular readers might have figured out by now that I'm very interested in the relationship between the real and the virtual world, but the latest post at Terra Nova goes far beyond any simple reasoning I've ever done. Basically, they sum up some speculation being performed by academics that says that just like we Earthlings have created our own virtual worlds (in Azeroth and elsewhere), it's somewhat, maybe possible that we ourselves actually live in someone else's virtual world.

Wow. To me, that's so far off the beaten path that who knows where to begin with it-- you've got religion in there somewhere, as well as the old question of our existence itself. But supposing that were true (and it's almost too big a jump for even me to make, except for the fact that even if it is true, we'll likely never know it), what would you do if you were living in a virtual world? Would you act differently? Would you be a griefer? Or would you play the game, play by the rules, and help yourself and others not only "win," but have fun too? It seems a little loony (because who wants to admit that their world is someone else's toy?), but it's a fascinating thought experiment that should help you examine both how you're living your life and how you want to live it-- what would you do if you were an NPC in a virtual world?

Of course, things get even stranger, because we don't just create virtual worlds-- we play in them. Azeroth isn't just full of NPCs-- it's full of us, walking around, killing things, and generally taking (and taking over) whatever we want. If our world really is someone else's, does that mean they're here too?

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