The title of the article I found this in was “What will a World of Warcraft player look like in 2030?”, and it seems about right. Click the image to see a larger version, the goggles are showing hillsides and rainbows.
As you deepen your experience of the game you lose your grasp of and interest in the real world. This sounds silly when you haven’t experienced it, but I’m always shocked to hear how literally players are willing to express this feeling, especially when I remember to insanity issuing from my own mouth right before I quit (“Isn’t all of society a game?”, “The goals and rewards are just more interesting in the game than out here”).
The comments on the article linked above are an excellent microcosm of the problem, with anonymous visiters actually debating whether the pictured situation is worse than the way humans currently interract in society:
Why is glory in the real world better than the glory in a fake one?
If a game can be designed that has more opportunity for a meaningful life, perhaps it is a good thing.
Evolution made us to survive, not to live.
People aren’t just playing a game, they’re experiencing massive shifts in lifestyle and ideology that are necessary to support their interest in and compulsion to play the game. Things they would otherwise believe in (family, friends, romance and, nightmarishly, politics) lose their sense of immediacy and become abstract and neglected. Alternately they can be replaced or hijacked by flimsy in-game versions (Guilds replace families, romance happens between battles and politics becomes how you feel about the “administration” of the world by the game developers). Either way the end result is a simulation that propagates itself; sucking people in, then, in the context of maximizing fun, changing the way they feel about the world to keep them in.
The painting above is scary, but the current reality is almost worse. Horror myths about getting lost in the Holodeck or addiction to “virtual reality” have been around as long as computers have, but the idea that we already have virtual drug addicts eschewing reality in favor of a game, even though the “virtual reality” on offer is only keyboard-and-mouse based paints a worrying picture of a future where immersive environments are available. Who will be able to say no? And if the games are any good how will we avoid succumbing to their ideological influence?
(The image itself is from Pyxelated on the DeviantArt community site. Prints seem to be available for sale.)