Real life is rubbish and society has evolved so the majority of human interaction is done in a simulated world.

Real world tasks such as maintenance, healthcare, and farming are usually done by robots and either delegated to a AI or carried out through an interface in the simulated world for pure work at home without risk of injury or the need for a commute.

Many jobs have now moved purely into the virtual world (such as retail and hospitality) however entirely new careers have emerged which would never have been possible in the "real world" and have necessitated the creation of millions of NPC.

What careers are there in a virtual world for a specifically designed NPC and for their human counterparts?

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    $\begingroup$ This question is rather open ended. You are basically asking to compile a potentially endless list. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Oct 19, 2020 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ Gasp! If you can live in a simulation why would you want to do something as mundane and tedious as working or having a career? It's the ideal opportunity to abandon economic servitude. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Oct 19, 2020 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ Virtual Virtual Skeeball isn't going to program itself. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Oct 19, 2020 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ Have a read at Ready Player One, it'll give you some ideas. The answer also heavily depends on how nerdy your virtual world will be. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Oct 19, 2020 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ "Have necessitated the creation of millions of" Non-Printing Characters? Non-deterministic Polymonial Complete problems? Nobel Peace Centers? National Peace Councils? Neutral Point Clamped circuits? (And I would have thought that hospitality services are a perfect example of occupations which must by necessity be exercised in person and in the real world. I have no idea why you would think that a virtual restaurant with virtual waiters serving virtual food would be successful -- virtual food cannot actually feed people.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 19, 2020 at 12:34

4 Answers 4


There is lots to do in a virtual world:

  • Creativity. Give me a life of luxury, and I'm going to start building things out of boredom. You will have people creating things:
    • Arts: Book authors. As well as composers, musicians, screenwriters, actors, conductors, directors, etc.
    • Engineering: People will build things. You'll have software engineers building software, mechanical engineers building things in CAD, computer engineers and AI engineers etc. If you have perfect post scarcity, some inconsiderate engineer will use their utopian free time to try to improve things even more.
    • Science: You think we've discovered everything? Mathematicians will try to discover proofs for things we haven't even thought of yet. Scientists will take simulations of the real world and try to advance physics or chemistry. The lack of the real world will not slow down humanities attempts to understand it in greater perfection.
  • Support for human processes:
    • Teachers, tutors, childcare. Anything to make you grow up.
    • Doctors, dentists, specialists. Anything to keep your body functioning. A faulty mind will cause faulty virtual body, and that will need to be fixed.
    • Lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, judges. Arguments will happen - and should.
    • Physics, and related specialists.
  • Security
    • Police, guards, forensics, etc may all need a spot, as people will do bad things sometimes.
  • Intimacy
    • Sex workers, escorts, strippers, "cam girls" or "VR girls" I guess. People will always want comfort and love, and somehow an NPC wont be able to tick every box.
    • There will be thousands of engineers trying to create better AI to create better NPCs, but we'll have to settle for real people giving companionship for resources until then.

Plus the environment could provide additional "quests" or similar things to keep people busy.

  • Look at "Ready Player One". Nobody in that VR world was ever bored. There were always things to do, and those things gave income, which people survived off. Even if it was "hunting monsters" or "racing cars".

"Work" provides more than an economic trade. It's also fills many human needs: For many folks a stable routine and corresponding feeling of security, a set of constrained-yet-fulfilling social interactions, and a source of status and self-worth.

Virtual activities, whatever they are called and whether they pay or not, must fill many of the same needs.

For careers, first look to entertainment: Sports, politics, puzzles, drama, music, art, parties, tours, bake-offs, etc. Each needs real human minds to create, organize, advertise, manage events, and provide a myriad of support roles that cannot be done by NPCs. An NPC can serve virtual drinks at a party, but cannot plan which drinks match the party's theme.

In many industries, the real money --and many of the best jobs-- are in providing support and/or infrastructure. A music or sport star shines brightly for only few years, but their agents and bankers and lawyers make a happy living for decades while stars come and go. To be a star in the virtual world requires many of the same services. Advertising is a driver of today's real entertainment internet, and that industry's need for creativity and a wide variety of skills won't change.


Related: How to monetize uploaded consciousness?

A virtual world is necessarily a post-scarcity world. If you can materialize a corvette out of thin air through a console command, industry is a thing of the past.

And if your real body is taken care by robots like that, healthcare for the body is also mostly something of the past.

That leaves:

  • Security police would be admins with the power to mute trolls, or punish them in some other way within the Matrix;
  • Lawyers to appeal to the admins about the trolls.
  • Psychologists to help the human mind navigate this new landscape.
  • Authors because humanity needs storytelling.
  • Hookers because asides the above that's about the only job left in that economy.
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think a virtual world implies a post-scarcity world. There are plenty of virtual economies in existence with currency valued in real-world dollars, with items that sell for thousands. The fact that it costs essentially nothing to materialize a new car in no way means that everyone can have one for free. I can't think of any example of a virtual world that exists today which operates with anything resembling a post-scarcity economy, and the existence of many scarcity-based virtual economies rather proves the opposite. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2020 at 15:02

I'm not sure what "work" a human would do in a simulation that they wouldn't do in real life - or, why they would do work at all. If a society has the resources to make a whole virtual world, then it would be trivial to make all tasks performed by your NPCs, meaning that people would only need to do things they want to do.

However, there are some interesting things that could be done with NPCs. Perhaps a group of NPCs (or even human volunteers) could live in a simulation within the simulation, allowing the person in control to play God with their lives. Perhaps the NPCs will be under the direct control of a human, ordered around with only a thought. There are a huge number of options, most of which are limited only by whatever restrictions you put on your virtual world and what your people desire to have.


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