Set in 2045 and written way back in 2011 (when Orkut was cool and Blu-Ray was hot), Ernest Cline’s bestselling Ready Player One portrays a collapsing world on the brink of chaos. Brought to the screen by Stephen Spielberg some seven years later, its characters live in the Oasis – an expansive virtual universe created by a brilliant but eccentric zillionaire. Does this sound familiar?
Exuberantly paced, this quest narrative transposes easily to the big screen, empowering gamers with wish-fulfilling assurances that they are actually the most important people in the universe. Battling monsters and saving the world through encyclopedic (and otherwise useless) knowledge of comic book culture has long been a compulsive pastime, particularly among young (and not so young) men finding it hard to cope with the outside world.
A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy For Society?
When it was launched, Ready Player One was an instant hit with gamers. In this dystopian world, hunting through the Oasis for an Easter egg carrying the founder’s fortune (and control of the entire game) makes more sense than coping with harsh reality. Might this hint (nudge, nudge) at a scenario for 2030?
How closely the forthcoming metaverse will follow this fictional blueprint is still unknown. For the moment, the non-gaming world can only hope that FB’s renamed parent company will find innovative ways of muting and booting the bigotry, racism, and misogyny that taint so many social networks today.