Virtual reality overrides the user’s physical senses and places them inside an entirely computer-generated environment called a simulspace. While AR is used for all common day activities and interactions, VR is used mainly for recreation (gaming, virtual tourism, escapism), socializing, meeting (when face-to-face meetings are not possible), and training. Dedicated networks with high-capacity information processing are required to render and run large and complex hyper-real simulspaces with many users, and these are often hardwired for additional stability. Smaller simulspaces capable of hosting a smaller amount of users can be run on a smaller distributed network of linked devices. Many infomorphs and AIs effectively reside within simulspaces, and some transhumans have sworn off the physical world altogether.
A plethora of simulspace environments are available, ranging from simulations of real places to historical recreations or fantastic worlds representing almost every genre imaginable. All of these simulations are bolstered by the fact that possible scenarios are not bound by the laws of nature. The fundamental forces of reality, like gravity, electromagnetism, atmosphere, temperature, etc., are programmable in VR, allowing for environments that are completely unnatural, such as escheresque simulspaces where gravity is relative to position. These domain rules may be altered and manipulated according to the whim of the designer.
Time itself is an adjustable constant in VR, though deviation from true time has its limits. So far, transhuman designers have achieved time dilation up to 60 times faster or slower than real time (roughly one minute equaling either one hour or one second). Time slowdown is far more commonly used, granting more time for simulspace recreational activities (more time, more fun!), learning, or work (economically effective). Time acceleration, on the other hand, is extremely useful for making long distance travel through space more tolerable.
Most simulspaces can be accessed through the mesh just like any other node. Since VR takes over the user’s sensorium, however, and sometimes involves time perception dilation, users are cut off from other mesh-delivered sensory input and interacting directly with other nodes. Instead, outside mesh interactions are routed through the simulspace’s interface (meaning that a character may browse the mesh, communicate with others, etc. from inside a simulspace, if the domain rules allow it).
Since physical senses are overridden when a user accesses VR, most people prefer to rest their body in a safe and comfortable environment while in the simulspace. Body-fitting cushions and couches help users relax and keep them from cramping up or injuring themselves if they happen to thrash around. In case of long-term virtual sojourns (for instance, during space travel), morphs are normally retained in tanks that sustain them in terms of nutrition and oxygen. Many VR entertainment and game networks offer dedicated and hardwired physical VR cafes with private pods. Visitors rent a pod and physically jack in, using either access jacks or an ultrasonic trode net that reads and transmits brain patterns when placed on the head.
When accessing a simulspace, the user first enters an electronic buffer “holding space” known as a white room. Here the user chooses a customizable avatar-like persona to represent them in the simulspace, called a simulmorph. From this point, the user immerses themself in the virtual reality environment, effectively becoming their simulmorph.