I concur, to a point. The initial concept was clever, even though it was stolen from the .hack series. Still, having a number of players trapped in a game against their will, and the long-term effects, when they were explored, did strike a number of emotional chords.
The problem with the series, though, is that it assumes that everyone on the “outside” would simply hook their family and friends up to life support, and hope they ended the game successfully.
What would really happen is that you’d see a combined international effort of computer scientists, programmers, game enthusiasts, physicians, and even social media working together through different angles to defeat the overall problem. You would see attempts by the major news networks to pump a live feed into the game, so players could be made aware of their situation. You’d see daily counts of who’s been rescued, who has died, and what level of the game the players had reached. More importantly, you’d see families sending video messages to the trapped gamers, striking a note similar to the videos sent to war veterans serving overseas.
Behind the scenes, you would have hackers, game designers, major corporations, all trying to break into the game, and offer a way for people to fight alongside the survivors without jacking in. This would offer a way for the players to be relieved from combat operations, and reach a rotation between the game, and a virtual world of peace. That would open up the door for players going AWOL, the controversies of conscripting trapped players to go back to defeating the game, the small percentage who would commit suicide rather than return, as well as those who would, after the game was defeated, never want to leave, and try to mimic the world they had left behind outside.
There were so many different directions they could go, but NO! The production team had to go the route of stupid Tinkerbell land.
The part that killed it for me the most, though, is that not once, did you see the main protagonists lose it, and turn to the violence they had learned to cope with in the virtual world once they were on the outside. How classic would it have been to see Kirito go Mad Max on half the people behind the various virtual world schemes? He’d probably be so screwed up by the end of the series, he wouldn’t be able to tell what was real, and what wasn’t.