In "The 13th Floor" person A experiences a simulation of person B's body and world. If person B dies while person A is experiencing their world, person A's sense of self is destroyed and person B then takes their place and wakes up in person A's body. This can happen on as many levels as possible in terms of simulations within simulations. In "The 13th Floor" what happened was person A (physical world) took host of person B from time to time. Person B was taking host of person C from time to time. Person B realizes he is inside a simulation himself and is killed while being hosted by person A but wakes up as person A in the real world.

I never understood the explanation for that. When you think of the brain it is comprised of trillions of organic connections that are created over a substantial period of time. They are not able to be rearranged in a sudden blink of time. It seems absurd in this case to believe a plausible technology of virtual reality and recursion then to be suddenly jarred into "magic" to have to believe a sudden "soul" is replaced. Why would someone design a system to do that? If you have a good explanation for that, please let me know.


The script explicitly states that when "Doug" finally arrives at the highest level he's in 2024, as demonstrated by the futuristic 'welcome to the world of tomorrow' type buildings he sees off in the distance.

INT: 2024

DOUGLAS : Where am I?

JANE : Come, I'll show you.

That said, the only way an instantaneous transfer of personality could take place is if the higher state was itself a virtual state. Since the people of 2024 are able to make near-perfect copies of themselves and populate them into virtual environments it's definitely in the realms of possibility that the future zone is simply another virtuality.

  • i like that answer the best – King Friday Dec 28 '13 at 4:38
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    Within the world of the movie it's not only possible that the 2024 reality is virtual, but a near 100% probability. See: Nick Bostrom's Simulation Hypothesis – user43545 Mar 25 '15 at 23:29

short answer applied phlebotinum

however for an answer that possibly makes scientific sense

If I remember correctly to enter the simulation you had to enter something they called a tool which was a person in the simulation that somehow matched your brain structure perfectly the information in the brain may have been different but it was set up exactly the same way

person A from the real world enters the mind of person B in the simulation the mind of person B is shunted into the real world and enters the body of person A because the computer running the simulation is badly designed and theres no where else for person Bs consciousness to be stored

person A gets person Bs body killed before the minds can switch back and person B wakes up in person As body

and for a different interpretation person B waking up in person As body was merely person B moving up one level of the simulation

When the nature of reality can be manipulated undetectably who can say where reality begins and fantasy ends

  • Yes, but "moving up" requires a lot of explanation in the organic world. I can see that for the computer world. – King Friday Dec 5 '13 at 15:25
  • the first part was for the real world – severa Dec 6 '13 at 8:12
  • I'll just accept it. Thanks. – King Friday Dec 6 '13 at 17:20
  • "the information in the brain may have been different but it was set up exactly the same way" this is not possible. If the information is different from organic connections, the brain is not the same. – King Friday Oct 15 '14 at 13:46

If I understood your question right, you are asking about how the inner simulation bubbling up to control the body of the person jacked in.

reff : The Thirteenth Floor Explained

The idea in the movie seems to be that the download link (person) in the simulation has been programmed to occupy 2 minds at the same time.

When there is no jacking-in in progress, the simulation is free to do whatever within the confines of the programming. There is only one mind at this point - the simulation's.

When there is a jacking-in, when a person has downloaded into the download link, the download link has two minds - the active one is the one from the person who has downloaded and the passive one is the simulation's mind.

When a person is jacked-in, the person's actual mind is linked to the download link. The person jacked-in feels pain, happiness, arousal etc. It is but a natural extension that the person can experience death too.

When the body of the person jacked-in dies, it's the mind that dies. The active mind which is the one of the person downloading in. The passive mind is safe. When the active mind dies, the passive mind wakes up. But the passive mind can't take over it's body as the transfer link is still active. The passive mind then takes over the next available body via the transfer link. This is the body of the person jacked in. Now the person jacked-in wakes up with two minds - the active mind of the simulation from down below and the passive mind, his own mind which has considered itself dead.


I always assumed that when you were first put into the computer, a 'Character' was created that you would be controlling. To be detailed enough (with history, habits, etc.), it was designed to be on-par with an actual human; 'Playable' characters would have to be built somewhat 'organically', albeit very quickly, since it was totally virtual, but, in effect, 'grown' so as to end up with a realistic level of complexity.

When a character entered the simulation, you saw a screen talking about 'Transferring consciousness', and a voice announcing 'Download Complete.' Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the actual 'being/soul/whatever' was too complicated to simple read and store, the mind wasn't so much being copied as moved (much like how Star Trek Transporters can't [1] copy a person; they just move them.)

In that case, the natural was to sustain the necessary brain functions while the 'Real' mind was gone would be to copy the simulated mind in, with the consciousness inhibited.

I have absolutely no canon support for this; it's just what I assumed, and seems to fit what happens.

[1] USUALLY can't; I know there are exceptions

  • As a computer programmer, moving something is just a pointer operation which is basically instant. It would have to be setting up the avatar configurations for that particular environment (level) as its abstractions would be different among environments as they are essentially allowing for a completely different set of rules in another universe with the avatar as a translation layer to experience it. The levels seem the same to me. Maybe the crux of this is there aren't levels at all. There are no Russian dolls to begin with, rather only doors to pass through. Weird damn movie. – King Friday Oct 15 '14 at 21:03
  • As a computer programmer myself, I will disagree. Moving something is not just a pointer operation when you are talking about two different storage media. If they are, in fact, on different levels (physical body & computer), and they do not share the same storage space (brain and storage drive), then you still have to actually move the data. (In computer terms it would be copying & deleting, but I'm sticking to the star trek-like "We can move it, but it's too complex to copy" idea.) The bottom two levels would ACTUALLY be a pointer move in the top level, but not from their perspective. – K-H-W Oct 15 '14 at 21:07
  • assuming we are in the same environment... since its tied together like a video game... – King Friday Oct 15 '14 at 21:08
  • Exactly; and that's the crux of the problem when trying to answer this; How do I know when I'm at the top of the reality chain... Welcome to the Matrix – K-H-W Oct 15 '14 at 21:09
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    Please let me know when you find you are in a simulation and I'll join you in your escape plan. :) – King Friday Oct 15 '14 at 21:10

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