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Upon reading Ready Player One, I was reminded of a novel I read some time ago. I thought it might be Alan Dean Foster but nothing on his bibliography looks like that.

Two main characters, unknown to each other in real life and geographically distinct, are in a massive online game system that uses immersive VR with haptic technology. The training scenarios feature the set turning to cardboard before starting and after finishing.

A fighting simulation based on Beirut features into the plot, as does a special simulation in the form of a train.

Somehow they are stuck and can’t exit. I seem to recall that one is a diabetic and would die fairly soon from this predicament.

I think it was decades old. Could be as far back as 1980’s.

It’s not the same as this one.

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Although not a duplicate, the comments on the other questions led me to the answer. I leave the description of this one for future reference.

Killobyte by Piers Anthony circa 1993.

Killobyte is a "second generation" virtual reality game that puts players into a three-dimensional, fully sensory environment. Users are hooked up to a machine that not only simulates a range of sensations, from pain to sex, but responds to brain signals to move a player's character. The only way to exit the game and return to the real world is by selecting that option from a menu that appears within the virtual world.

The game takes place in many different settings, as players face a series of increasing challenges and accumulate points. In the tradition of role-playing games, players get some choice over their characters' appearance and abilities, and they must use logic and ingenuity to overcome each obstacle, often involving riddles. When encountering another character, it is not always easy to tell whether the person is a fellow player or a part of the program.

As is implied by the name (a pun on the word kilobyte), the game enables users to kill or be killed. Violence is quite graphic. Players who die receive electric shocks and the feeling of being buried in a coffin, and each death is longer and more unpleasant than the last one.

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There is another story i remember from a child that was similar,

Ben Bova the Duelling machine,

People would fight within a virtual dream world to solve disputes until one person actually dies within the machine, the machine's inventor starts an investigation to discover how this has happened

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  • I happen to have read that recently. It’s not the story I was looking for. – JDługosz Oct 4 '16 at 16:26
  • Hey, as it stands, this seems more like a comment, perhaps it would be possible to add some supporting evidence? Although it may not be worth your time, since it seems like this wasn't the answer the OP was looking for – Au101 Oct 4 '16 at 16:43

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