Virtual gamers commonly view their online lives in categories and terms borrowed from Apocalyptic AI. Transhumanist communities actively spread Apocalyptic AI in online gaming, but much of the ideology also appears inextricably linked to our cultural view of virtual reality (VR) worlds. In particular, many residents of the online world Second Life see it as the precursor to the digital paradise of Apocalyptic AI.
The line between the real world and the virtual world has blurred. Perhaps once upon a time we could easily demarcate between fact and fiction, life and games, but online games now challenge the barriers that might have once been solid. The virtual world, though intangible, is now quite real and gaining importance in mainstream techno-culture. The median age of online gamers (depending upon the game) ranges from mid-twenties to early thirties; these games are not just for kids! For many, World of Warcraft1 has become “the new golf” as younger colleagues get together online to battle the forces of evil rather than meeting on the greens (Hof 2006). People play with parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, spouses, and friends. They create virtual families and, not infrequently, virtual relationships bleed into the earthly world, leading to dating and marriage. Even earthly politicians, from Mark Warner of West Virginia to the two-time presidential candidate John Edwards, have entered Second Life to give interviews and build campaign centers (Pickler 2007). According to the technology and research advising company The Gartner Group, 80 percent of active Internet users will participate in virtual worlds by 2012 (Gartner Group 2007). They may be games, but Second Life, World of Warcraft, and the rest of the massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs2) are serious business.
Computer games have fast become one of the world’s major media and a major locus for story telling. As money and talent (both intellectual and artistic) pour into