Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Virtual Déjà vu Fleshed Out

Last year, I flew to Las Vegas for an interview and stayed a bit longer to explore the Strip. I cannot shake a sense of weird familiarity. I was once in Las Vegas. But two decades for a day on the way to Los Angeles. Hardly memory-making time. The feel of a decadent urban oasis in the middle of a derelict wasteland where high hopes die with waking reality. Crap, this sounds very much the depiction of Las Vegas. But no, this familiarity comes from Fallout: New Vegas.

Lucky 38? Nope, the Stratosphere

I wonder, has virtual worlds, such as Fallout: New Vegas, crossed that threshold to truly simulate reality and trick our brains? Of course, virtual worlds cannot replace the experience of actually having our arses in those spots. At the same, it would seem technology is destined to generate the whole world without us ever leaving home as the great prophet, Sci-Fi, has foreseen. And it is a bit uneasy.The Mayan calender resetting last year to signify the entering of a new era. Yes, New Vegas was released in 2009. And yes, there are many games set IRL locations, such as the GTA series and Midtown Madness series (look that one up). Las Vegas hit me with déjà vu: the feeling of overwhelming familiarity in place or situation without there being a reason for such feeling. Few psychologists suggest such moments maybe the brain spotting something familiar in an unfamiliar place/situation. So the brain is throwing an anchor in an unexplored harbor. For what reason? Well, psychologists are kinda new on déjà vu existing (for real) and not so much for why.

Most likely to warn us

Perhaps déjà vu is an mechanism to buffer against uncertainty. Personally, I was in Las Vegas for an important interview which would dictate my future career. A video game inspired my déjà vu. A played out fantasy where you can have better control on the outcomes than IRL. Video gamers have been shown to have less nightmares. Since gamers are used to exerting control on one type of fantasy, so controlling another is not too hard. Hell, the US military has been experimenting with video games to treat PTSD.

So déjà vu and Mayan prophesy? Video games, more broadly virtual worlds, can be ingrained into our memories. Video games and virtual worlds become more as immersed experience than movies or books. Keep in mind, anxiety and depression disorders are rising in both children and adults for various reasons. So why not escape into a fantasy to deal with our reality? Keep escaping and we have the fulfillment of the Mayan calender ending in a new era.

So a fantasy revolves around moral system divided between slutty and emo. Not sure better than WoW or not...

Completely seceding from reality is ridiculous. But how many times have you spotted two or more people together, not speaking to each other and instead staring intently into their smart phone? Or how many times have you done so? Today?

Last thought: one solution to the Fermi Paradox (there are so many planets in the galaxy and yet we have not found evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence) is that all alien minds are uploaded to a supercomputer. Once in the supercomputer, the programming generated universes within this matrix. Thus, the aliens could care less about the universe outside.



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