Not to get too metaphysical, but how about a story set inside the video-game of the future? A super-involved MMO where you use virtual reality gear to move around and play various different games in roughly the same world-space, but splice it with stuff happening in the real world for balance?
That’s not a great explanation, let me try again…
Imagine technology moving forward some thirty years, TVs are about as good as they can get right now, so realistically the next big step is VR or something similar, right? MMOs are popular right now because they let players live in a different world filled with people who are alive and reactive. Games like EVE Online and Second Life take it a step further, establishing virtual economies and player-created content to allow human beings to live in a way the real world could never allow. Extrapolate that technology and in a few decades you have the ultimate evolution of the MMO. Imagine playing a game where you drop into a sci-fi shoot-em-up, ranging across a battle-scarred world. You get bored, so you open up your menu and call for a lift. You get picked up by a spaceship and asked what you want to do now. You decide you feel like a fantasy game, so the spaceship flies you to another planet, you change into your fantasy account and suddenly you’re seamlessly in a whole new game. As the spaceship took you to your destination, you realized there were other ships fighting, trading, building stations along the route. All the different types of videogame there could be have been combined into one enormous game.
This game might have more than a billion regular users, as it would be a one-stop shop for every possible type of photo-realistic gaming entertainment that would leave every other developer in the dust. People would spend most of their lives plugged into the game, companies would run conference calls on asteroids orbiting an artificial gas giant, business owners would make hundreds of millions trading virtual goods and buffs. It would be an economic force like no other, a true 21st Century Utopian vision.
You would play a regular user, just enjoying him/herself making a simple living trading virtual stocks you win from playing the games with your team.
One day, one of your team-mates receives a mysterious mail that he assumes to be spam, he opens it and his avatar seems to fizzle and explode right before your eyes. You think nothing more of it until you log out and try to contact him. You learn he was found dead in his home shortly after he opened that email.
Someone has found out how to kill people remotely.
Nobody will believe some snot-nosed gamer punk.
Its up to you and your crew to get to the bottom of an international conspiracy that could destroy the entire (virtual) world.
… Or whatever…