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The world is not flat.
The world does not rest upon four elephants, upon an infinite pillar of turtles.

The earth never flooded for over a month.
The universe wasn't created in six days.

Lycanthropy is not an infectious disease.
Dragons do not roam the skies picking off unwary travellers.

Wizards do not battle over magically charged realms.
Witchcraft is a religion, not a science.

It doesn't have to always be like that, though.

It's nice to imagine a ritual festival occurring at Stonehenge, the arcane chanting of the cowled druidic order, the bloody slaughter of an animal or human sacrifice, the feasts, the charged atmosphere... but it probably never happened.

However, computing technology is reaching the point where it is possible to create this.

It's not there yet, but it's getting there. Look back just ten years. Graphics were usually in four, or even sixteen colours, when graphics were used at all. The WWW didn't even exist, and the internet was unknown outside universities and the military. The first First Person Shooter was still years away, and any 3D worlds were devoid of detail and frame rate. Look what we have now. Half-Life is a great game - far better in my view than Quake 3 Arena. Why? Firstly, it has an enormous, realistic game world. It doesn't rely on lots of small pockets of game world, separated by arbitary distances travelled in an instance - there is a real feeling of size. Secondly, you can interact with other people. And not just by shooting them. Whilst AI is still primitive, having other people makes the situation more real, somehow.

Imagine a game world as realistic as Half-Life, crossed with the chatting and roleplaying with real people of games such as Ultima Online, FurryMuck and others, played through a virtual reality headset, with sounds and scent, and you have almost got reality.

The other technologies aren't here yet. But they are coming. A 'scent printer' project was cancelled due to lack of funding, not a lack of technical know-how. It is entirely plausible that soundcards could advance to the point where sounds could be directed, reflected, doppler shifted and many other transformations applied. Virtual Reality headsets are nothing new. Except they can now be made as glasses. With data gloves, all anatomical surfaces could be covered, and with effectors you could feel that kick... or be kicked yourself! And as for the opportunities for TinySex...

The design of the universe would be left up to the players: allowed to grow ad hoc, as users whims dictate. There will always be heavily active areas... and peaceful places.

It could become the preferred way to work, immersed in a virtual reality office of your design, whether that be a dappled forest, a open plain, or any number of other places. Teleconferencing could occur in this on-line environment, perhaps, with all your paperwork able to be transferred...

It'd require bandwidth. Huge, vast chunks of it. But does all of the world need to be downloaded? Imagine a DVD, or the next generation. A DVD can hold gigabytes of information - the next generation may hold hundreds of gigabytes, maybe even terabytes. Samples of every surface texture could be stored on this medium, unchanging. The core architecture: the main buildings, the books in the libraries, desks, doors, chairs and many other things that can be replicated could be stored. Maybe even entire pre-designed houses, with customisable wall coverings and furnishings.

I believe this will happen. Not now. Maybe not in ten, twenty or thirty years. Maybe not even this century. But I do firmly believe that this will happen... and the possibilities are enormous.

I give you: irreality...

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