Is Hollywood Finally Taking Virtual Worlds Seriously?


Has Hollywood made up its mind on whether virtual worlds are important?

With the release of Bruce Willis's heavy action flick Surrogates, Hollywood finally seems to be moving virtual reality from the realm of Weird Science to John McClainville.

One of our early articles focused on popular perception of the Gerard Butler film Gamer, wherein Mr. Butler plays an avatar engaged in life-and-death combat while controlled by another person miles away. Despite only grossing $19 million domestically, the low-budget flick turned a profit and got people asking: Are virtual worlds cool?

Read on to find out why Hollywood is suddenly making the Metaverse the preferred realm of self-exploration for their flawed anti-heroes.

The Examiner has an interesting article on why Surrogates not only advances the cause of virtual worlds as a whole, but also the cause of the oft-ridiculed online gamer:

Having another person representing one’s self (and it does not have to
look like the person), out there to socialize, do mundane tasks
(professions), and take on any dangers (even dying without
consequences), while the person is at home by the computer, this is the
very heart of online gaming.

Surrogates can do things the person
cannot do, like run faster, jump higher, or change their face for a
whole new look. The Surrogates can be in what would be a fatal car
accident, or shot on the battlefield, and the controlling person is

While Second Life users have been accused of fleeing to the Metaverse for lack of a "First Life," who wouldn't leap at the opportunity to explore oneself and the surrounding world without any actual physical risk? Isn't this the purpose of literature and art as a whole, virtual or not?

Virtual worlds are merely one more venue for self-exploration, and have uses both as tools of fun and tools of serious thought. The Metaverse, more than any other tool, provides a visual debate over the sense of self. Am I still myself even though I am playing someone else?

How much does our own personality rub off on an avatar, and how much does the persistent environment of the virtual world change how we as real people respond to the real world once we log off? Despite their adrenaline-rush action scenes, both Gamer and Surrogates explore these themes, Surrogates more successfully.

As Hollywood seeks relevance in an age where movies are pirated nearly instantly and people's lives are increasingly intertwined with technology, the Metaverse appears to be the most recent means of telling a tale. Consider it a parallel to the cowboy tales of the 19th Century, or the tales of fantastic exploration during the 1400s. 

Hollywood considers the Metaverse, finally, a legitimate forum for serious introspection and storytelling.

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