There is an entire anime/manga genre that deals with MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online roleplaying games) in a total virtual reality. Examples are Sword Art Online, 1/2 Prince, and Moonlight Sculptor.

While the plot differs, they all have following features in common:

  • virtual reality gear is external (helmet / capsule) and easy-to-use (plug'n'play) at home, comparable to personal computers concerning how widespread and easy to buy it is
  • total override of conscious nerve control; while the VR is experienced the body remains in a coma-like state; only important signals like 'got to go to bathroom' or 'starving' or 'house is burning down around me' get forwarded to the user
  • immersion is more or less realistic, but definitely includes visual and audio, to some lesser degree also taste, smell, touch; pain can also be simulated
  • gaming seems to be the most important application of this technology in all those cases, in many of them it is even the only application.

Goal: I want to set up a world that does have VR MMORPGs, including all the handwavium necessary to get that kind of VR to work, but does it somewhat more realistic than the majority of said anime/manga genre

Question: Which aspects do I need to consider when applying a more real-world outlook on the technology? Other applications, legality, health/psychology issues -- what else? What are the main issues? EDIT: I would be very satisfied with a rounded outlook of where else this kind of VR technology can be applied; the rest can probably be deduced from that.

For all intents and purposes, assume a human society like ours, approximately same technology level as today with the exception of the VR tech and all the necessary technologies leading up to the end product.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Asking multiple questions in one is not recommended as it makes it hard to answer with a concise and focused reply. Additionally it becomes much harder to rate answers as to whether one is better than another as the "best" answer to each part of your question may be held in different answers. See tips on how to fix the problem. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 27 '16 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Tim B: better? or still too broad? $\endgroup$ – subrunner Apr 27 '16 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ I feel it may still be too broad, but not enough to mod hammer it. I've re-opened it for now but you could do with narrowing down what aspects you are interested in and how answers would be rated against each other. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 27 '16 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ One thing about "reality" of the situation in SAO was that the device was first used for gaming with minimal exposure in medicine(which was somewhat retconned) and with minimal government oversight. In real world, device like that would take dozens of years of testing before even being allowed to use on humans. And it's design would be highly regulated to minimize risk of harm to humans. $\endgroup$ – Euphoric Apr 27 '16 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ Since the question still seems to be too broad even after the edit, I'll be satisfied with the answer I already got -- after all, enriching the porn industry alone is worth all the points :) $\endgroup$ – subrunner Apr 29 '16 at 7:50

Humans tend to figure out health aspects of technology years/decades after widespread adoption, so since VR has yet to meet commercial success, who knows? Legislation on drones is barely burgeoning and those are older and more widely known than VR.

You can however imagine how some people will inevitably go insane with the introduction of VR. And there will be stories of some Korean guy found dead in his flat after playing VR for 96 hours straight. But that isn't really different from what video games already do.

It should be noted that VR overrides reality, which is good in some applications, but that also is really not good in a lot of other applications. For instance, you can learn to drive with VR but the actual driving will be done with good ol' Mk-1 Eyeballs for about as long as there are human drivers.

Wikipedia pretty much covers all current or near future uses of VR: training and education, 3D visualisation, gaming, movies, concerts and other entertainment avenues, and therapy. I don't see full sensory immersion changing that list much, and it wouldn't really be useful in a lot of these.

Except maybe for porn. You've probably thought about it already. I'm not believing you if you say you didn't. Let's not kid ourselves, any entertainment-related technology that isn't endorsed by the porn industry is starting with a pretty large handicap. Betamax and HD-DVD are very clear examples of that. So there will be porn on it. And it'll be lucrative.

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  • $\begingroup$ I disagree on idea that full-immersion VR would outpace bureaucracy. It is way too easy to classify such device as medical equipment. Meaning it would have much stricter health and quality requirements. Even without bureaucracy specifically targeting the device. $\endgroup$ – Euphoric Apr 27 '16 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Euphoric Bureaucracy has more inertia than a gas giant. I see your point, but it will largely depend on your country's law. It wouldn't necessary qualify as any sort of medical device, and even if it was that doesn't mean the end of the world. Toothpaste in France is a "medical device", and you can buy it at the supermarket. $\endgroup$ – AmiralPatate Apr 27 '16 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ headdesk I got as far as considering how to make full-immersion movies, but no, porn hadn't been on my mind. Which it should have, really. Oh dang it, just running with that one aspect gives me too many... ideas. So much +1 for that! $\endgroup$ – subrunner Apr 27 '16 at 14:01

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