Virtual Materiality

During the 1980s and 1990s, computer-generated ‘virtual realities’, such as those created within computer games, were popularly imagined as spaces distinct from the everyday ‘real world’. Being ‘virtual’ was to lack a physical or a material existence. This imagining of the virtual as a discrete computer-generated reality was in part prompted by the growth of early computers, arcade machines, and games consoles. The rise of video games, especially, prompted a spate of film and television representations of virtual realities as accessed via new immersive entertainment technologies. The 1982 science fiction film Tron, for example, depicted a computer scientist being accidently transported into the virtual world of his computer—unable to return to the physical world. Similarly, in the opening sequence of the 1989 children’s cartoon Captain ...

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