World of World of Whatever
The following clip from Onion News Network, is an obvious spoof - its all that onion ever produce, but at the same time, this one may cut closer to the bone than perhaps we would like.
The clip of 'World of World of Warcraft' shows a faux Blizzard studios product which lets players control a VR 3D rendered character who is playing World of Warcraft. Most of the screen is filled with the 3D generated character sitting at their desk, a PC around them, post-it notes on the screen, and, at an oblique angle, a screen from World of Warcraft. Pressing any key on the keyboard made the virtual character press the same key on their keyboard, and the actual connection to world of Warcraft would respond to that.
It seems like a joke, until you realize that this is actually happening, even if that particular product is fake. At the 2007 ActiveWorlds technology expo for example, a lot of fuss in the expo - taking place entirely within a specially created virtual environment - was gathered round the VR-5 booth, where avatars could interface with arcade machine models, which were displaying flash-based videogames interactively on their screens.
At the time, for that platform at least, the technology of flash integration was new, and so a great many people were gathered round the arcade machines making their avatar play the games - a virtual game within a virtual environment, not too far from what the Onion was using to lampoon virtual environments with.However, once the technology was more established, some people continued to play the games this way. When the persona is projected through an alternate body, it then becomes natural to interact with the world via that virtual body.
If we take this concept to its logical extreme, and picture a cafè environment entirely virtual, with full sensory immersion avatars, it is not a great stretch of the imagination at all, to picture that someone will be sitting there in that VR, with a virtual computer in their hands, upon which is a videogame that they are playing. If anything, with human nature being such as it is, this scenario seems eminently plausible, even probable.
So, is it a lost cause, that however we seek to increase immersion, there will always be those seeking to create lesser immersion within the greater, and emulate within emulations? Probably.
In many ways, this is not a bad thing. Picture the same cafè environment again, only this time, there are a group of full sensory immersion avatars clustered around a table. On that table is a lower fidelity simulation, completely separate to the cafè, which all of them are seeing and interacting with. The lower quality simulation is a 3D representation of an upcoming particle accelerator test, and the avatars are housing the mental projections of physicists scattered right across the globe. Its the exact same simulation within a simulation approach, but now it doesn't feel so quirky, now its serious science and a boon for progress.
Whatever we create in the multidisciplinary fields that support VR as a whole, however immersive we create the environment, there are always going to be those who wish to sim from within a sim. That capability, even if it did start out as a lampoon, is a very serious and beneficial capability that will ultimately be a part of the VRs we create.
Only please don't use it to emulate world of world of Warcraft. That, was just silly.