One of the things I've started to find about Eclipse Phase is that the more I think about it, the more different and yet familiar the transhuman future becomes. I've had friends who I've talked to about the game or concepts related to it ask me "Then what's the point?" numerous times, and I've had to explain to them that fixing one problem doesn't mean all problems are solved, nor that new ones don't appear.
Interestingly, it's the ones who have watched Ghost In The Shell who don't seem to need that fact explained, but whether that's correlation or causation, I don't know.
So, now there's one I want to bring up, and that's questions of Anonymity and Identity in VR sims, and to question perhaps one of its more extreme forms in the form of VR sex.
First, a groundwork of what I'm referring to. VR sims are ubiquitous in Eclipse Phase. People run simspaces with fidelity down to a realistic degree for fun. People can get computers the size of a credit card that can run a human mind on it for a pittance. Simspaces are likely extremely common.
Second, Infomorphs are able to look whatever they want to with the right skin, and anyone who projects themselves into VR is effectively able to do the same. This means you can look like just about anyone you want to. Want to look like a metacelebrity? Buy their avatar skin. Want to be a mountain-sized troll? Skins for that, probably. Want to change your face, your age, your sex? Lots for those.
Now, here's where things get quirky. It's one thing to play a directed game, equivalent to most modern games, where you have goals or objectives to do. It's easy to get lost in those but, at the end of the day, it's also easy to divorce yourself from them. You might play WoW and create Grimnar Thunderbeard, slayer of the undead and rightful king of Azaroth, and get quite involved in crafting the character, a sort of escapist fantasy, but they're not you. Very few people have trouble separating themselves from that.
But what about less objective-driven VRs? What about whole worlds like a highly advanced version of Black & White/From Dust/Minecraft, where people craft their own persistent worlds? What about equivalents to adult roleplaying chats, save that, in this case, people really can turn themselves, and whomever they're with, into their ideal sex partner?
And then, the question comes out, how do people deal with these discrepancies? How do people deal with identities and relationships that emerge from their digital lives?
I singled out VR Sex for a particular reason here. It's already not that unusual for people who build amazing things digitally, and who have otherwise mundane lives, to become better known by their VR identity than by their real one, and for the two to even be synonymous. However, sex is a different story.
How do transhumans react to the idea that the stunningly beautiful woman they've been spending their off-hours wandering digital gardens with is really a middle-aged, obese male Flat, who works as a terraformer aerating soil in the Martian desert? What about for areas where ego IDs are tied to these things, and ensure that anonymity is a none-thing? Do people suppress their desire to be someone else, or does the squickiness fade away?
How does digital identity and physical identity interact on that scale?
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