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In this world, human are able to dive into story (books, movies, game) at will and able “log out” whenever they want. Once they are in, they will be subjected to the rules inside e.g. able to cast magic, see dragons, catch pokemon stuff like that. The story world is shared across the world, ie, like a massive multiplayer – person A going into Story 1 and person B can find person A inside Story 1 when he dive into the world. Limitation:

  1. Only able to dive into story that are concluded, have no sequel and exist for at least 100 years
  2. Still require food, water. Food and water can be from the story world.

  3. Once inside the story, the time will flow as per normal. E.g. people diving into the same story after a real world week, you will be inside the story for a week

  4. Diving into the story world just require you to remember the world and 15mins of “channeling time”

So the question is this, how do we prevent the decay of civilization due to people staying in the story world instead of coming back to the real world?

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  • $\begingroup$ Does all that happen inside such a story stay in that story? And what does happen to their physical body after all? $\endgroup$ – Confused Merlin Jan 6 '16 at 7:37
  • $\begingroup$ Physical body plus items they bring will stay inside, all that happen in the story stays inside. But for example if you injure a person from the real world, when the person logout, the injury will persist in the real world. $\endgroup$ – Mono Jan 6 '16 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ I would assume that when people enter an story - for example - a book. They enter the world of the story, after the story ended. That solves when in the story they join, and also solves the problem of altering the story. If you think they all join the start of the story, and that people can interact within the story, then you would have information timetravel as you could talk to people that joined the story in the future. $\endgroup$ – Theraot Jan 6 '16 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's right, you will only enter the world of the story, after the story ended. $\endgroup$ – Mono Jan 6 '16 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, so here you get the one million $ question: what happen if a real-world woman gets pregnant by a book-world boy? $\endgroup$ – Confused Merlin Jan 6 '16 at 9:15
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Base scenario

People need to get out to eat and drink (and pee and poop). The same may be true for healthcare, they will need medicines, and exercise.

This means that there would still be demand for these things in the real world, and so there are people willing to pay for them... and people willing to be paid for them. So people will still have jobs in the real world.


Loophole scenario

If what happens to the body in the alternative world happens to the original body - as stated in comments, that may create a loophole that allows to eat and drink inside the alternative world to stay alive. You said that you cannot bring objects from the alternative world, so maybe you cannot take out nutrients from meals, so you get back to the base scenario.


If you choose the loophole scenario, then the bodies are somehow linked, and food in the alternative world is food for the original body too...

  • By the loophole you can eat something in the alternative world and poop it in the real world.

  • If the original body is injured I would expect that to be reflected in the body in the alternative world.

  • A person could sustain itself within an alternative world... and maybe use magic from that alternative word to prolong their lives! Cure any disease!

Some alternative world would be preferred over others. You would one worlds that has prosperity and safety, so they can:

  • Give food to everybody.
  • Give healthcare to everybody.
  • Serve as communication channel.

Why is that decay? it looks like progress to me.


You said you can enter video games too, and if what happens to the body in the alternative world happens to the original body, that means that you could enter – for instance – Minecraft※ and have virtually endless farmable land to produce food to sustain the world. Or find a story with something like the Sustaining Spoon.

※: Minecraft is not 100 years old, no video game is. However, a government could have a long term project to create such worlds. If such extensive and abundant worlds doesn't exist, then people would NOT be too much time in alternative worlds anyway.


If what happens in an alternative world is persistent, then you can transform those worlds. I can imagine conquer efforts to be put to some alternative worlds. For instance, Ambrosia, Aguamiel and any Fountain of Youth are high value targets.

Of course, there is no currency that can be moved from alternative world to another (except by the poop hole)... but you can give a better life to yourself and your people if you have power in one of the alternative worlds.


War

Once we have a situation when governments are taking control of alternative worlds, we can consider that they become part of the territory. But also means that they are a frontier to all the other countries.

Consider – for example – that France is in control of the world of the Wizard of Oz. Anywhere in the world where people know the tale of the Wizard of Oz, they could try to enter that world, and so they would be stepping in french territory. Even unknowingly.

So, the government will need to have military presence in the alternative worlds to prevent them to be overtaken by opposing factions.


But that is not the only way to attack. You could target the real bodies of the soldiers that are in the alternative worlds. So defense in the real world is also needed. This means that – regardless of the benefits of the alternative worlds – you wouldn't move all the population to the alternative world permanently. This means, that even in this scenario, you will not have cities where everybody is immerse in the alternative worlds.

Long term strategies may include the destruction of copies of a book (or other media) to prevent others from entering. Having a selective group control the access to the only copies of a book, allows to control who is granted access to that story (which is done by allowing them to read).

Of course, you cannot make people forget the stories they already know, but new generations will not know them.


Note on oral tradition:

We have talked about stories being confined to physical media. But there is also oral tradition. If we allow the retell of a story to allow access, then we need to consider what happens as the tale is transformed.

When retold, some details maybe lost or added to the tale causing it to be slightly different. I would expect that that means that it is creating a new story – which is not 100 years old – and so it doesn't grant access – unless retold verbatim.


Note on translations and adaptations:

Since they are derived works, they could be independent to the original. That is consistent with the rule of verbatim reproduction. If we consider that to be the case, then they need to be 100 years old to be accessed. That means that if you access the Never-Ending Story it is not the same as entering La Historia Sin Fin.

The alternative is to allow canons, but there is no reference to say what is considered canon and what not. If we consider something like "whatever the original author consider canon", then them changing mind may cause drastic effects in the alternative worlds, of course it is to be expected that after 100 years most of them will be dead... but if those alternative worlds can prolong one's life that may not be the case.

Replacing the 100 rule with a "death author" rule, means that you may consider to sacrifice an author to create his world (which might be interesting to explore). But as stated, a book that expand on another is creating a new world instead of adding to the original one.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nicely written answer. Some points to consider, as per your loophole scenario - human will conquer(and transform) some alternate world. In this case, wont the real world civilization start to dwindle as all the human would rather be in the alternate world instead of the real one? $\endgroup$ – Mono Jan 6 '16 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Mono extended the answer to expand on the case of war, and why even in the case of conquering alternative worlds that doesn't mean to abandon the real world. $\endgroup$ – Theraot Jan 6 '16 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ So that's what Fahrenheit 451 was about! One group wanted to keep people in the real world! $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 6 '16 at 13:28
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Sounds like a movie I saw. Sounds like a few movies I’ve seen. “Ready player one” and “Logan’s run” “matrix” and a few Greek philosophical stories among a ton more. I list them here so as not to plagiarize them which would defeat the purpose of creativity.

If the world really could do this we wonder what is the point of being alive? If the evolution of humanity has come to a point where everyone can exist inside an imaginary world while the real world is perhaps run by machines or some trained animal, then these irrelevant souls, (compared to what humans believe about themselves) could or would in essence become gods. And this in itself is a contradiction of the story where it would become more relevant to be the ones who perpetuated this imaginary world. Which in essence becomes a moral question and a pragmatic question. But anyway.

I imagine in this world one can taste and feel and everything so it does not matter how real food tastes compared to the imaginary food etc. etc. and sex and love and even creativity. But now the world is saturated in “absurdism” where nothing really matters. So to keep the real world running, somehow the virtual world can and will appease the real world in its virtual mechanics of behavior. Where what is done translates into the real world as a supporting action, like ranching and gardening and building. But maybe that too has already been done, or is on its way.

Perhaps the answer dwells inside some hidden military agenda. That divides itself by what becomes meaningful to the individual. But where is the evolution here? Has it been forgotten? Especially in that when mankind genetically alters or breeds or selects or even experiments with nature, in the end, if the plug is pulled, or the world is hit by a catastrophe, is mankind/womankind capable of existing? Way out on a limb here.

So in “deterioration” of civilization really becomes irrelevsnt because civilization is now virtual. And when things are virtual they no longer are capable of growing. So there must be a process where one must grow to survive, if not develop some attribute that allows them to be allowed to exist after a certain age. But who decides this? And is it actually insituted correctly? If the world is a evolution as compared to a human progression then the best answer is to find a symbiosis between the three parameters; virtual world, hidden reality, nature. So now is there any motive which can be seen outside of the transformations? And how is it recognized? Especially by a society content to follow an already established and omnipotent system? Or is the virtual world a “Rorschach’s test” of some kind for the admittance into the real one? But again, here it is the same as being in a primitive world. One without true logic and run purely on a majority emotion that actually contradicts its own prerogative. But I won’t expand on that.

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