We’re off to the Oasis, we mean Ready Player One, or maybe we should just say – our future in VR. We snagged some early tickets at SXSW for a Wednesday preview and are looking forward to Steven Spielberg’s vision of the future.
Ready Player One at SXSW
We spent enough time in the Ready Player One display at SXSW in Austin this year. It was an incredible experience except for the virtual reality section. You felt like you were walking around an Oasis-type world until you put on a VR headset.
Then, it seemed like any other FPS VR game on Steam – and not a very good one at that. I went through the multiplayer version and two of my co-players had technical issues throughout. But the technical stuff can always go wrong in VR so that wasn’t the issue. We were expecting a more creative virtual experience given the incredible visuals released in advance of the movie.
Maybe it’s us. Our standards have been elevated (through the roof) by Iñárritu’s amazing VR experience on immigration, CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible). And by other works such as The Berlin Wall VR experience at The Newseum in Washington DC (there’s a version now on Steam).
Still, this movie lives and breathes VR and Spielberg is involved.
Our Future in VR?
We’re sure you’re familiar with the plot of the movie, but here’s the quick version from Rotten Tomatoes if not,
In the year 2045, people can escape their harsh reality in the OASIS, an immersive virtual world where you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone-the only limits are your own imagination. OASIS creator James Halliday left his immense fortune and control of the Oasis to the winner of a contest designed to find a worthy heir. When unlikely hero Wade Watts conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends-known as the High Five-are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS and their world.
It’s a dystopian future where everyone’s physical, real-world existence is a nightmare and the virtual becomes reality – the place for entertainment, work, and education. Obviously, that’s a scenario that surfaces in our work at Digital Bodies and at times keeps us up at night. So yes, we’ve been waiting to see Spielberg’s version.
Moments like this always bring us back to a remark by Jeremy Bailenson, director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab:
When I think about virtual reality, I think virtual reality is like uranium: It’s this really powerful thing. It can heat homes and it can destroy nations. And it’s all about how we use it.
Ready Player One takes place in a world that’s already destroyed. Virtual reality is all they have. I won’t give away Spielberg’s solution in the end just yet, but it’s exactly what you might think.
More from the Oasis later this week.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.