I've been accused of sounding like a marketing drone in my last blog entry, and for that I apologise. But at least people are reading. And please do feel free to comment, I can always delete anything I disagree with :-)
Anyway, this Slashdot post on MMORPG addiction worried me a bit, but sadly wasn't really that surprising. I've known people who are completely hooked on World of Warcraft and other online games, and have been in danger of numbering among that category myself on a number of occasions. As the games get more exciting and immersive (all courtesy of Microsoft® XNA™ of course - oops, guess the chip is still working after all), are we going to end up with a generation of people who spend their entire lives in a virtual universe?
Of course this evokes hideous Matrix-esque visions of the future, but is it really so terrible? Obviously it's not healthy to spend your entire life plugged in, but given that these games often form the basis of real social networks and relationships perhaps they shouldn't be viewed in the negative light they often are. And being in a virtual world has real advantages; unlike the Matrix you won't die if you're shot in the game world or someone unplugs you (unless we've got a really bad case of Everquest addiction on our hands).
This opens up a whole raft of questions - for example, can you do real work in a virtual life? There are already self-sustaining economies in many of these games, and some allow you to create your own virtual content to sell to other users. Of course such a system is reliant on people putting real-world money in, but the financial markets between real and virtual currency are thriving, and the two can only converge as more and more people spend time online.
I remember seeing a sci-fi film or TV show when I was about 10 (if anyone can remember the name I'd be much obliged), where the protaganists find themsleves completely immersed in a virtual 3D environment full of other people and shops, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I'm still kind of miffed we're not there, but we're getting much closer. That said most of the games industry has given up on VR as a silly gimmick, but personally I'm kind of hoping for a comeback. No I don't think it's a practical replacement for either real shopping or the web, but I'm looking forward to the day I can go virtual shopping with a bunch of friends all over the world and then head to the virtual cinema. Anything to save having to exercise ;-)
Have a look at Augmented Reality Quake - googl..err. I mean MSN Search "ARQuake"
OMG. I so have to get one of those headsets.