There is the virtue reality of primarily text-based interaction punctuated periodically by synchronous, video-streamed performances, as you are wont to call them. Their virtuality is rooted in the medium through which they manifest, but they have real, direct effects, I find, but more unforeseen, knock-on effects as well. I find they stimulate me cognitively, but also affectively, for in the end, they are real, human interactions. I have never once been tempted to wonder whether any of you are robots, automatons, or not-yet-publicly-known strain of AI. We all accept that the medium imposes limitations on that interaction, but I would say due to our expansive experience with it, we also overcome some – though certainly not all – of those limitations. The significance of the impacts of those interactions is directly reflected in the text-based interludes as it is in the videos as well.
For any random, unknown passer-by who decides to watch a video and perhaps read the pre- or post-video threads … well, for them, I’d say this is one kind of virtual reality, but it is one, at least to my mind, that is much akin to quality reading in general. There are some people I know who are skimmers for information: any kind of text they encounter is really nothing more than container of potential information from which they can take what they want or need for whatever reasons they may have. This is a more virtual reality than the one we participants experience, to be sure, and one, I would assert, is much more superficial than the one we experience. This is not to say that these people could not encounter something that triggers a much deeper and longer lasting effect of some kind, but I would think this rarer than in situations where the interaction is more intense.
And then, there is that glove-and-goggle experience that originally gave rise for the name. That experience is one that is qualitatively different from any I’ve had before or since. It is really a virtual reality, one that before you put on the equipment you know is not “real” and one that you know, once you take the equipment off, was not “real”, but nevertheless leaves a kind of indelible impression. It’s not mind-blowing, but it is certainly mind-bending. This is the one I am most willing to dub as virtual, for other than the objects and environment which are being simulated, there is no real substance to it. A lot of form, very little substance. Sort of the opposite of our conversations.