Some of it feels gimmicky, as when Alexi Lalas stands on a real pitch explaining how the players move, the players being life-size digital images superimposed on the video. Some of it seems like genuinely useful application, such monte carlo simulations of outcomes (play the game 10,000 times virtually, count the wins, call it a probability). (Note: Doing it once, like this, is not informative. You have to repeat it 10,000 times.)
Older issues arise again. Once again we encounter the virtual world of sport, where utterly trivial things really seem to matter. It is undeniable - look at the faces of the players. It is life and death to them. An evolutionary argument explains it. Take 10,000,000 football players (not handegg players) with a distribution of talent and interest. Among them, a certain percentage believes that football is the most important thing in the universe. Assume the same initial distribution of talent among them as among the general population of players. Over time, the obsessives become better players, however, due to their obsession. Now we have perhaps 50,000 obsessed, talented players. Repeat. Now we have 5,000 super-obsessed, super-talented players. Repeat. Now we have 500 maniacally devoted, machine-like players. Repeat. Now we have the makings of a World Cup team: A community of people who take it all very, very seriously.
Knowing all this, I nonetheless dive headlong into this virtual world, as I do in any other. Ask no questions, respect the aesthetic, participate, float along. Being American, I was thus jumping on Wednesday and moping on Saturday. When society gets into the act, you find yourself having to suspend belief, not disbelief. The default state (unless you arduously train your mind in skepticism, something I would not recommend) is to accept the apparent reality and go with it.
Finally, let's take a stroll in the darkest, most evil virtual world of all: The World Cup as seen by the referees. This year, the officials have concocted an internal virtual world in which offsides is onsides, onsides is offsides, goals are not goals, and not-goals are goals. A little bit of bad officiating can help motivate the immersion - "The INJUSTICE!" - but systematically errant calls make you wonder why you dove into this place at all.