Friday, April 20, 2018

Ready Player One

We had a very enjoyable trip to the movies to see Spielberg’s new offering Ready Player One. Set in 2045, most of the world is hooked on virtual reality world Oasis, designed by brilliant recluse James Halliday. People spend their life immersed in Oasis because “you can be all the things you want to be”, and with the exception of sleeping, eating and toileting, it's all there and usually better than real life. Halliday has since died, but having no heirs, he left his game to the person who first completes the mystery hidden inside Oasis, to be solved by finding 3 hidden keys which lead to the final Easter egg prize.

After years of searching with no luck, many have given up, but those still looking are the Gunters (the egg hunters). Wade Watts, in his avatar form Parzival, along with the friends he has met in the game spend their days trying to find the keys. Their main competition is IOI (Innovative Online Industries), headed by Nolan Sorrento, who once was an intern with Halliday. IOI put all their money and resources into researching every aspect of Halliday’s life with the aim to win the game and therefore entirely control it, including its revenue and income streams. They give an insight into a world where one company monopolises the digital space, for as people get further and further into debt paying real money for power-ups and new lives, they are imprisoned in debt collection agencies. Parzival meets Art3mis and is immediately attracted to her. After winning the first key, he breaks all the rules of Oasis, and reveals his true name to Art3mis, shocking her because the whole point is that: “you know what I want you to know and you see what I want you to see”. This enables IOI to track him down in real life and so the virtual and real lives of all players begin to intersect.

While IOI are clearly out to rule the world and completely control the population through Oasis, it’s not a depressing movie. It’s upbeat, very easy to follow, the good characters are really likeable, both in real life and in their avatars; and while the bad guys are bad, it's mainly because they are greedy and controlling, but not perhaps inherently evil.

The graphics are fantastic, Oasis is real enough to be visually amazing yet digital enough to be clearly created. It’s clear why Oasis is addictive. Especially if like Wade, if your real world is a load of trailers stacked on top of each other, with both parents dead, and living with a grumpy aunt.

There is a fair amount of digital action violence, some real world violence, some romance and kissing but no sex, and minimal swearing.  Husband and I both really enjoyed it and are very happy for Mr 15 to see it too. At one level it’s an enjoyable action movie with some fun cultural references to the past, particularly the 80s music and video games.

At another level, it will make you think about the impact of the digital world on real lives and whether the costs are worth it. It will make you consider where we are headed as a society with a dependence on alternative reality. There’s an inherit warning about spending your life lost in a virtual world and the highly selective representation of ourselves that we choose there. And there’s a challenge to think about what is actually important, as Parzival says “the thing about reality is that it’s real. People need to spend time in the real world”. A good movie, well worth watching.

The movie is apparently based on a book of the same name by Ernest Cline (2011).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy! The book is much much better than the movie! I listened to the audiobook and loved it. (Amy Perkins)