Have you ever had a moment where you just let your imagination overcome you? Maybe you were sitting in class and was bored by the professor (which could never happen in this class), so you decided to daydream. Consider for a moment what you are doing. You are sitting in one place, but your mind has drifted into another world, probably creating different scenarios that may stem from your life. Sometimes, the emotions within your imagination is so strong that you feel the effects of these thoughts. In effect, you are experiencing a virtual reality of the mind.
Now consider creative writers. They spends hours developing new scenarios, sometimes creating stories of how they want to be. They become so involved with these characters that they may connect to them and feel they are real, while some of it might be a reflection of the author. Creative writers may write to escape from reality and become so involved that they become a part of this world they develop. I have written several stories and I can testify to the fact that a lot of my writing begins from my own experiences, and sometimes I am so connected to this world that I sympathize with the characters and the events I create. Though I am not hooked up to a machine that reproduces reality, my imagination runs so high that I feel that I have become a part of this other world.
What about you? What about the reader? Have you ever just sat down and read a book that featured a character more successful than you, so much so that you picture yourself in that role. How different is this from the purpose of virtual reality? The mind can be so real that your thoughts can have a physical effect on you. Consider the cases of people who became sick because they thought they were. Have you ever heard the expression: it is all in your mind? Would it be too much of a stretch to claim that imagination is a natural version of virtual reality?