18
$\begingroup$

If someone needs information about virtual worlds, like for example, the one seen in Matrix, would that be on topic here?

If yes -- how this should be treated / tagged etc.? Do we treat such worlds and questions as pure SF or do we have special treatment for them?

I'm asking about purely virtual worlds. The one, in which character exists only, when connected to some kind of device, machine, network etc. Plus eventually about dream-worlds. I'm not talking about worlds that someone may call "virtual" only because they're modern / future / new-tech / different than our world.

$\endgroup$
20
$\begingroup$

Purely virtual worlds must have rules, maps, weather, societies, currencies, etc. as well, so yes, they are on topic. They may be similar to ours (like Level 13 or Matrix) or very different (like Tron) but each one must be crafted with detail.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, but some of those details will be very specific to the virtuality. Designing a setting whose nature is virtual could yield worldbuilding questions line "Would inhabitants observe anything unusual during systems maintenance", "How much processing power would a simulation require per 1000 inhabitants?", "What would be the effect on society if everybody's memories are artificially implanted?", "Could somebody use programming knowledge to affect the simulation?". $\endgroup$ – Ziv Sep 18 '14 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ (cont.) Are these types of questions on-topic? These are "worldbuilding" in the sense of being necessary to define the setting, but they're a rather different set of tools. $\endgroup$ – Ziv Sep 18 '14 at 9:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Ziv Some of these are "in world", like "Would inhabitants observe anything unusual during systems maintenance" (think Matrix's dejavus), and others are "out of the world", like "How much processing power would a simulation require per 1000 inhabitants?". Those of the first kind are possitively on topic. Those on "the second variety" are debatable, but I think they are on topic if you are trying to create a fictional "host" world with a virtual world inside. $\endgroup$ – Envite Sep 18 '14 at 9:18
11
$\begingroup$

Whether a world is considered virtual or real is irrelevant. All worlds require the same things, as mentioned by @Envite. In terms of planning, there's no difference between a virtual world or a real world, in that they're all fictional worlds created by us, and so are on topic here.

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

The only difference between a virtual and a "real" fictional world is that the virtual world has interactions with at least one other (the "real") world. For example, in Matrix there exist two fictional worlds: The simulated one, and the "real" one in which the simulation runs.

But otherwise there's not much difference. You may claim that in virtual worlds there is more freedom for the rules, but I don't see any difference in principle between hacking the matrix and magic, as far as possibilities are concerned.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ While your answer is good, I want to clarify. I think you step a little bit too far. Your example of interaction between virtual and real world matches "Matrix" movie serie perfectly, but I can imagine book, story or movie, where all characters exists in virtual world only, have absolutely no knowledge of real world even existing and thus have no interaction or connection to it. So, I think, that your assumption about existing at least one interaction may be false in certain scenarios. $\endgroup$ – trejder Sep 18 '14 at 20:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @trejder If there is no way of determining that it is a simulation, and the story involves nothing suggesting or describing an outside world, then it isn't a story about a virtual world, it is just a story about a world and the audience/readers have no more reason to regard it as virtual than the characters. I definitely see questions about the interaction between different layers of reality as being on topic. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Sep 21 '14 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @githubphagocyte Either you missunderstood my comment or I didn't expressed that correctly. What I was meant, was that only characters aren't aware of the outside world, while reader / audience of course is. $\endgroup$ – trejder Sep 21 '14 at 15:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @trejder I see your point about character interaction. My point is that there must be some story interaction between real and virtual worlds, even if most or all characters are unaware of it, otherwise it ceases to be meaningful to refer to it as a virtual world and you can just post your question without mentioning that the world is virtual. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Sep 21 '14 at 16:05
1
$\begingroup$

One could quite reasonably argue that every world is a "virtual" world. This is the old Cartesian problem: what if my entire perception of the world is actually a deception created by a monstrous demonic entity? Some people think of it as the "brain in a jar" problem, or these days the Matrix problem. At base, it's not something one can solve -- this is one of the implications of Kurt Gödel's famous theorems.

As a result, hypothesizing about "virtual worlds" in the sense defined here is necessarily a matter of worldbuilding, and thus perfectly on-topic.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .