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Encyclopedia > Better Than Life

Better Than Life is a major concept in the Red Dwarf canon. Within the fictional universe of Red Dwarf, Better Than Life (or BTL) is the name of a virtual reality video game engineered to pander to the player's most intimate fantasies. Red Dwarf is a British science fiction sitcom that ran for eight series, from 1988 to 1999. ... Virtual reality (VR) is a technology which allows a user to intereact with a computer-simulated environment. ... A computer game is a game composed of a computer-controlled virtual universe that players interact with in order to achieve a defined goal or set of goals. ...


The second novel in the Red Dwarf novel series is titled Better Than Life in that the game is one of the central plot devices. The Official Red Dwarf fan magazine also shares this name, as do a number of unofficial fan-managed websites.


The TV Series

We are first introduced to the game in a Series Two episode titled Better Than Life. The game arrives among other fantastic packages in a post pod, which is encountered after Red Dwarf turns around to head for home. It is part of a series of 'VR Total Immersion Video Games', which work by inserting electrodes into the user's frontal lobes and hypothalamus. The user becomes completely immersed within the reality of the game. Virtual reality (VR) is a technology which allows a user to intereact with a computer-simulated environment. ... In the anatomy of mammals, the hypothalamus is a region of the brain located below the thalamus, forming the major portion of the ventral region of the diencephalon and functioning to regulate certain metabolic processes and other autonomic activities. ...


Better Than Life is a game which allows the user to live out all their fantasies and desires. When in the game, one has the ability to mentally command into existence any object, person or environment.


The problem with the game in the TV Series, however, is that it also detects subconscious desires: if the user subconsciously hates himself then the game will eventually detect this and subject him to specifically-tailored masochistic tortures. The notion of a subconscious in some branches of psychotherapy is considered to be the deepest level of consciousness, that we are not directly aware of, but still affects conscious behavior. ...


Total Immersion Video Games - though not specifically Better Than Life - are later encounted in the Series 5 episode, 'Back to Reality' in which a group hallucination makes the Dwarf crew believe that the previous four years had been a video game fantasy. "Back to Reality" is often cited as being the best episode of Red Dwarf. An hallucination is a sensory perception experienced in the absence of an external stimulus, as distinct from an illusion, which is a misperception of an external stimulus. ...


Additionally, the Series 6 International Emmy Award-winning episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" featured a similar concept. "Artificial Reality" video games were used to allow the characters to combat personifications of a computer virus in a metaphorical Wild West showdown.


The Novels

Better Than Life plays an important role in the two novels Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Red Dwarf: Better Than Life. The novel version of the game has far greater abilities and far greater bugs. Unlike the TV series, the game causes the user's imagination to develop semi-plausible explanations for certain events. For instance, in the TV series, the user could make a large, expensive car appear for no reason. In the books, the user's imagination would create a scenario where they won the lottery, or created a successful business, so they could buy the car. A software bug is an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program that prevents it from working as intended, or produces an incorrect result. ...


The danger of the game is that once the user starts to play, the game makes them forget they actually started to play, so they believe that they are actually in reality. Their conscious mind only perceives the reality of the game, and all signals from their real body, except for extreme pain, are completely ignored.


Unless cared for in the real world, a user (or "Game Head") would die very quickly. While it is certainly possible for friends to forcibly remove the headset that contains the game, this results in instant death from shock. The only way to exit the game is to figure out that you're playing the game, develop the desire to leave it and then command an exit.


In the universe of the Red Dwarf novels, Total Immersion Video Games are much like drugs in this world: they are addictive, expensive and lead to shivering Game Heads in every shop doorway and city byway. The user experience and addiction characteristics also bear substantial similarities to present-day MMORPGs. Players interacting in Ultima Online. ...

After a drunken party, Lister, Rimmer and Cat discover a cache of illegal headbands in one of the sleeping quarters, and end up beginning to play. They imagine that they board the Nova 5 and use its Duality Jump drive to return to Earth. Dave Lister in Red Dwarf David Lister is a fictional character from the British television series Red Dwarf who is portrayed by actor/comedian Craig Charles. ... Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf Arnold Judas Rimmer BSC, SSC (Bronze Swimming Certificate, Silver Swimming Certificate), who sometimes goes by Arnold Jonathan Rimmer, is a character in the television series Red Dwarf, played by Chris Barrie. ... The Cat is a character in the British television series Red Dwarf. ... The British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf prominently features many different spaceships. ... Earth (often referred to as The Earth) is the third planet in the solar system in terms of distance from the Sun, and the fifth in order of size. ...


Lister settles down with a woman who looks exactly like Kristine Kochanski in Bedford Falls, which looks exactly like the Bedford Falls in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, Lister's favourite movie. He has two sons, Jim and Bexley, and opens a successful curry shop. Clare Grogan as Kristine Kochanski in Series 1 Kristine Z. Kochanski is the navigation officer of the title ship of the television show Red Dwarf. ... Frank Capra (May 18, 1897 – September 3, 1991) was an Italian-American film director and a major creative force behind a number of highly popular films. ... Its a Wonderful Life is a 1946 Frank Capra film, produced by his own Liberty Films, and released originally by RKO Radio Pictures. ...


Rimmer becomes the head of a multi-national corporation, Rimmer Corp., and has a 50 billion dollarpound fortune. He's married to Juanita Chicata, the most beautiful model and actress in the world, with a massively fiery temper. He's also developed a time machine, which he uses to play George Patton, Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte at Risk. Time travel is a concept that has long fascinated humanity—whether it is Merlin experiencing time backwards, or religious traditions like Mohammeds trip to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, returning before a glass knocked over had spilt its contents. ... General George Smith Patton Jr. ... Gaius Julius Caesar (IPA: ;[1]), July 12, 100 BC – March 15, 44 BC) was a Roman military and political leader. ... Bonaparte as general Napoleon Bonaparte ( 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general of the French Revolution and was the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from November 11, 1799 to May 18, 1804, then as Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français... Risk is a commercial strategic board game produced by Parker Brothers, a division of Hasbro. ...


The Danish government gives Cat an island, on which is built a giant golden castle, right out of a gothic fairy tale. The castle is surrounded by a moat of milk, and is staffed by eight-foot tall, scantily clad Valkyrie warriors. He likes to travel on firebreathing yaks and shoot dogs. When questioned about the plausibility of it, the Cat reckons he deserved it because he was so handsome. Motto: None1 Anthem: Der er et yndigt land (national); Kong Christian (royal) Capital Copenhagen Largest city Copenhagen Official language(s) Danish2 Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Margrethe II  - Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen Consolidation Prehistoric  Accession to EU January 1, 1973 Area    - Total 43,094 km² (131st3)   16,639 3 sq... A statue from 1908 by Stephan Sinding located in Copenhagen, presents an active image of a valkyrie. ...


Back in reality, Kryten is cajoled by Holly to laser messages into Lister's arms. Lister feels the pain of this in Bedford Falls, and when he applies cold cream to the areas of pain, they spell two messages - 'U=BTL' on his left arm ('You are in Better Than Life') and 'DYING' on his right ('You are dying') These messages cause Lister to realise that it has been Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls every day since he got there, just as it was in the film. He realizes that he is in the game and confronts Rimmer in Paris. Rimmer is dismissive, claiming Lister's lack of money disproves his theory. It's eventually discovered, however, that Lister's fantasy is much more mature than Rimmer's; he doesn't need money to be happy, just a family to love him. Rimmer's fantasy involved mega-riches because of his insecurities. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Holly is played by Norman Lovett in series 1, 2, 7 and 8. ... The Eiffel Tower, the international symbol of the city, as viewed from the Trocadéro This article is about the capital and largest city in France. ...


They travel to Denmark and meet with the Cat. While discussing how to get out. Kryten arrives and explains how they started playing. Because his Mechanoid brain is different from human brains, he remembers entering the game, and his few desires (such as getting new cleaning utensils) do not addict him to it. An android is an artificially created robotic being that resembles a human being usually both in appearance and behavior. ...


Kryten explains that, to leave the game, all they have to do is imagine their exit. Lister returns to Bedford Falls to say goodbye to Kochanski. However, he can't bear to leave her, so he stays in the game, as do the others - Kryten is lured in by an infinite supply of dishes to clean.


However, things change because of Rimmer's massive self-loathing, his subconscious belief that he doesn't deserve success, that he deserves to suffer. Consequently, Better Than Life causes him to lose his fortune, have his body repossessed, and end up in the body of a woman. Upon attempting to leave, he can't, and realizes that all four must leave together. He travels to Bedford Falls in a giant truck, wrecking the town square in the process, ruining Lister's fantasy. As they leave, a nuclear waste facility and a psychiatric prison for the criminally insane are being built. They travel to Denmark, to discover that Cat's Valkyries have gone on strike (tired of the sexual harassment), the milk moat has curdled, and a volcano has started to erupt. The four leave the game together. Political Punk band from Victorville, Ca WWW.MYSPACE.COM/NUCLEARWASTEX ... A volcano is a geological landform usually generated by the eruption through a planets surface of magma, molten rock welling up from the planets interior. ...


They seemingly arrive back on Red Dwarf, but certain clues (the good quality towels, the sleeping quarters actually being clean, etc.) make them realize they're still in the game. At this point, a 14 year old boy appears, claiming to be the game's creator and congratulates them on overcoming the final obstacle, and offers them a replay. They decline, and finally return to reality. Due to their having not moved for such a long time, Lister and Cat's muscles have atrophied considerably, and they have to be placed in special suits for some time to re-hydrate and restore their muscles.


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