A term coined by Jaron Lanier to describe an artificial, computer-generated, simulated environment that actually feels real by presenting you with lifelike images and immersing at least three of your five senses within it. It is created with computer hardware and software, and in order to enter a virtual reality, users need special goggles, earphones, and gloves that feed sensory input to you from a computer. These devices also track and monitor your actions. Virtual reality systems are expensive and primarily only used in research laboratories, but you might be able to try one out at a [[cybercafe|cybercaf�]].
The meaning of the term "virtual reality" has extended in a generic sense to refer to any virtual world represented on a computer (even if it's just a text-based or graphical representation). When 3-D images are made interactive so that users feel involved with the scene, the experience is referred to as virtual reality. A popular example of avatars interacting and even making money is within the virtual world of Second Life (see: SL).
This term has also found its way into modern slang as a universal metaphor, for example, "My last girlfriend was so pre-occupied, she was completely lost in her own virtual reality."