Virtual life holds many attractions, for many different kinds of people. The advance of communication and representational technologies, combined with known findings about human migration, suggest that ever more time will be spent in virtual space. This book explains why a virtual exodus will happen, and what the consequences will be.
The exodus will have significant consequences, even for those of us who spend little time in VR. Take the economy. People who socialize primarily online are more concerned about their profiles than their cars. Profiles and cars are very different goods, with different production and distribution systems. If people do shift from cars to profiles as a primary source of social esteem, that difference by itself would predict a big change in the economy as a whole. The movement of attention into cyberspace affects everyone.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the exodus is what it says about the offline world. We will soon get to the point that millions of people would rather spend time in fabricated worlds than in comparable places in the real world. It’s easy to say that there’s something “wrong” with these people. But perhaps they are being reasonable to some extent, and making the best choice available to them. Perhaps there’s something wrong with the real world.
UPDATE April 2016: Though the book is almost a decade old, each passing year seems to provide more evidence that a VR exodus is part of humanity’s future. Recent evidence: The swift emergence of virtual and alternate reality applications after the introduction of the Oculus Rift.