Video game developers usually end up loving technology given that they end up working with it so often. So the only thing better than working with the stuff we have today and finding innovative ways to mix and match the technologies we have, is dreaming of the new technologies we might have in the future; its why science fiction appeals to so many game developers.
Having never herd of Sci-fi author Verner Vinge I was skeptical about as to why they'd bring a Sci-fi author who doesn't really have anything directly to do with video games to a developer conference. However, after hearing Mr. Vinge speak, it was easy to see why so many developers get excited about his work.
Turns out that his vision of the future that's supposedly conveyed in his books is that humanity will end up living in personal realities generated for each one of us through technology. Essentially these realities are MMO environments that could exist for each person however they want them to and they wouldn't be too far removed from the MMOGs we have today.
The technology he was speaking of seemed exceptionally far out there, still within the realm of possibility, but with a time frame much further out then Mr. Vinge made it seem. But even listening to the concepts and trying to grasp exactly what he was talking about I couldn't help but feel as if virtual worlds that people participated in as almost a substitute to reality is something that only could be in science fiction. It just seems unreal.
So... Would you rather try to improve the world you live in and spend part of your time in a virtual world or craft a virtual world for yourself and come out to do only the absolute necessary?
As per usual, I have a related Pointless Waste of Time link which I think speaks for itself. Well, it obviously does, what with all those words it has in there. I meant it kinda covers my opinion on the subject, although I have a pretty limited vision of the whole MMO phenomenon since I've never played an online game...
What I mean is, I agree on the fact that MMO games might eventually develop past the gaming part and become a more evolved form of "MySpace", creating a whole new virtual universe for next-door people to interact in, and which a lot of people will find really hard to find a reason to ever leave. When the uber-intellectualoid victorian dandy character you play in the literary cafes of discussion forums you spend your time at becomes an actual, 3D uber-intellectualoid victorian dandy having a cerebral debate at an actual 3D literary cafe, what will reality have to offer to compete?
Also, I think this phrase is pure genius: "Humans got fed up with this world, and so we invented a new one. I suspect some theologian will come forward in the future to suggest that, in fact, our world was created in the same way. The gods got sick of their boring spiritual realm and made a more exciting, physical one to replace it."
These point of views are very interesting, and remind me of Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, specially the part where ppl could interact in a virtual world with others, to fulfill fantasies or longings they had of themselves in the real world.
Anyway, I think that a real holodeck is not too sci-fi anymore, the first steps have already been taken.