The Evolution of Virtual Realities in Cyberpunk and the Real World

Ready Player One OASIS art Wade Parzival virtual reality VR cyberpunk

Since its inception in the early 1980s, cyberpunk has established two distinct kinds of worlds. There’s the post-industrial dystopian cityscape, like modern Japan on crack but shaded with enough darkness to be appropriately noir-y; and there’s cyberspace, the virtual world running parallel (or sometimes perpendicular) to the real one. With corrupt corporations calling the shots, it makes sense that the punks would retreat into the digital space, an idealized version of their downtrodden daily lives malleable enough that they can create their own private universe. When you can look whatever way you want and challenge the laws of physics, why would you want to return to the real world?
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