Any (inspirational) connection to The Digital Sea?

There's at least three books by Thomas Carpenter, where the basic premise (but nothing else, IMO) is very similar: Humanity is down, almost everyone spends their time in a virtual reality (knowingly) and everyone plays The Game, which decides if and how you live.
(There's another trilogy by him which IMO could be a prequel to the digital sea, but I don't think it is.)

Please note that i'm expressively saying that merely the very basic premise is similar - I'm not saying one copied the other or any such.
It's simply that the idea of a world like that is rather novel - at least to me, I guess in the future we'll have that more often, as VR or rather AR will become commonplace.

I'm just curious if it's indeed a coincidence, or if the general idea was picked up and used in a different way.

(Also, I'd guess that anyone reading this comic might enjoy that book. A good read (be it book or comic) is always worth mentioning.)