Reality Check

15 Apr

The lecture this week was about ‘Reality—actual, potential and virtual’. After having some difficulty with getting my head around the topic I found that my understanding of the actual, potential and the virtual was significantly improved after we had small debates in the weeks tutorial. I know that the word for this week was ‘augmented’ but in this blog I will discuss the subject that my group had to debate, which was whether ‘the binary of the real and the virtual was unhelpful in understanding our mediated experiences’. My team argued that the binary was helpful and I will outline the arguments that we made in this blog post. We agreed with Andrew’s ideas regarding the existence of two sides to reality, he stated that both were equally as real. These two sides were the virtual and the actual.

However we believed that regardless of this there needed to be an acceptance of the actual before there could be an understanding of or an immersion in the virtual. We argued that the virtual alone was not sufficient in terms of physical existence. In terms of general nutrition, the virtual was insignificant. Humans need food and water for survival and total immersion in the virtual would not allow this. We drew on several examples and one was the particular instance where an avid Starcraft player believed he could physically fly off a building in Korea following hours of intense gaming. This not only brings into play several arguments regarding media effects theory, but was also a one off incident and several other factors may have contributed to the occurrence, however in terms of our understanding of the actual and the virtual we could state that the gamers understanding of these interrelated paradigms had been blurred. This was how we separated the real and the virtual.

We also argued that the binary of the real and virtual could in fact enhance our experience of the virtual. This was because the limitations that we experience in the actual are removed in the virtual. In the case of Starcraft this obviously includes gravity. In video game series such as gran theft auto it can includes things like societal laws and values. Because we acknowledge that the experience is virtual we can enjoy the deconstruction of the limitations of the actual, this is because there are often limited consequences.

When we bring things like military drones into the argument things obviously get quite perplexing. Controlling a drone from an office essentially imitates a virtual experience, however it is in fact real. Unlike Starcraft of Gran Theft Auto, there are actual, physical consequences and this is somewhat unsettling.


Murphie A (2013) ‘Is The Virtual Real?’ in Advanced Media Issues Course Outline, University of New South Wales,

Photo: Strickland J, ‘How virtual reality works’ on How Stuff;


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