Cyberpunk for the 21st Century.
You play a marginalized punk living on the fringe of a society that is slave to the datasphere. You know it better as The Machine, the interconnected engine that drives daily life. The Machine is money, time, information, and progress, only you are fully aware that there is more to The Machine than simple metaphor.
While sheeple move through the world, senselessly chasing the latest social meme, you realized long ago that the world most people see is simply a fascade, just as much a virtual reality as a physical one, and equally controlled. At first you thought it was one of the megacorps, only to see that corp's stock take a dive not too long after, resulting in a forceful acquisition by a rival. No, it had to be something deeper, something meta, something beyond the perverse machinations of humanity.
That was it. Then you started to hear things, like Paradox Code and Singularity, concepts that continue to grow and evolve for you even today.
Then you started to meet people, fringers like yourself, some of them self-styled punks, some criminals, some idealists, but all of them aware. The Machine somehow controlled progress - it somehow retarded the advancement of some tech while promoting others. The cure for cancer continued to dance on the edge of possibility, every year a step closer, yet every year still as elusive, and yet we could fully replace a cancerous organ with an artificial one.
That's when it fully hits you. Practically every human on the planet was jacked in with a psi-jack, allowing them to interact directly with the datasphere. That's what made the physical world as much a virtual world, and clearly part of The Machine. A few people you know had their psi-jacks removed, but they now live permanently on the outside. While they aren't part of The Machine, they also have no way of tapping it either and you wonder if it weren't for those sympathetics around them if they would end up just like every other null-zone nomad.
And then there's Paradox Code. You've heard that the code is part of The Machine's core and that it can be used, by those that are smart enough to understand it, to manipulate The Machine. No, no, not in any massive way, but enough to alter reality, perceived reality anyway. You have seen coders use it to slam open maglock doors, cause JollyCabs to swerve out of control, or even take control of automated defenses. Sure, you know that any decent jacker can slice over the net and execute some custom software to do the same thing, but it also takes time, lots of time. Coders can do it in real-time, and nearly instantly. The scariest realization you will ever have happens when you see a coder making a couple of rentacops do the chicken dance, worse still when he makes one shoot the other. Psi-jacks, after all, are just another node on the net.
It's tough to say where you'd rather be, you know? Would you rather be just another meatbag in the sleeping world where everything is about the next sports event, who-screwed-who on the vidstreams, and how your friends responded to your latest update? Or, would you rather be living in the "real" world where at least you know you have some amount of freedom? Freedom of course is all relative, and who's to say the "real" world simply isn't another aspect of The Machine.
Either way, it doesn't matter. At least the "real" world is more interesting... for now.