I don’t know if anyone else has noticed lately, but the amount of manga relating to virtual reality seems to have been on the rise. And I don’t mean virtual reality as in character-gets-sucked-into-fantasy world, I mean full on computer game virtual reality. MMO-simulations, death trap computer games, mobile games, a “gameified” world… etc. I made a brief timeline of some of the better known series below.
As you can see, from 2000-2006 there were few series relating to the subject. The series that were created tended to be lighthearted and a fun despite addressing more serious themes from time to time. They were also all quite long, and involved extensive fantasy MMOs that the main characters engaged in.
From 2007 we begin to branch out. At this point the pace has sped up to about 1 series a year, and we’re seeing more different kinds of games. There are dating sims, battle games, and even the MMOs are taking on a darker tone. Players are “trapped” in the game world with no means of escape. In “Gate,” the game world meshes with the real world, and in “Log Horizon” it’s also unclear whether players are trapped or whether the real world underwent some sort of transformation to match the game world.
Starting from 2013 we see an explosion of game-related stories. An interesting trait that has popped up is that in many of these series, such as The Gamer, Re:Monster, and DICE, the games are so integrated into real life that there is basically no distinction. It isn’t a character signing into the computer anymore, the world is the game. On top of that, many of the stories have an all-powerful god figure that is left unexplained (as of the time being) and the stories spend a lot more time exploring human nature itself as the problem rather than having the antagonist be something like a convenient deranged hacker whom the “good guys” are fighting against.
What does this mean? Personally, I think this reflects how integrated technology has become in our day-to-day lives. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, I’ll be waiting for all those series to resolve themselves to see what the authors’ takes are!
What is your take on immersive gaming and how it’s affecting the world? Let me know in the comments! (: