READY PLAYER ONE
Steven Spielberg, 2018
Everyone is searching for an easter egg.
In 2045, the world has been devastated. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) lives in a ghetto in Colombus, Ohio. Like everyone else, he spends most of his time in the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), a massively multiplayer online game created by James Holliday (Mark Rylance) and his friend Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg).
Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.
Before dying, Holliday has hidden three keys giving access to an easter egg, which gives total control over the OASIS. No wonder IOI (Innovative Online Industries) and his boss Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) are working day and night to get hold of this juicy business.
Wade finds the easter egg first thanks to his unique understanding of James Holliday’s mind and supported by his group of friends. Wade decides to share his success with his partners instead of ruling alone. The OASIS will be shut down two days a week so players can stay in touch with the real world.
Because reality is real.
Ready Player One is about a quest for adulthood.
The OASIS has become incredibly successful because the real world has become so crap. We preferred to live as kids in a fantasy world.
People come to the Oasis for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be.
Gamers didn’t even realize they totally gave up on the real world. They have shifted their problems without looking for an answer. They interact with each other in the OASIS without purpose. Holliday has created his quest to bring back some meaning and help users to emancipate. The virtual reality guru wanted to remind everyone there is only one reality in which people can thrive.
I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness.
The easter egg is not just a hidden function in a program. It’s a symbol of life. This quest will become a journey for Wade and the others to learn a few things. Holliday didn’t want to teach anything. He wanted the players to discover the truth by themselves through a revealing experience. He’s not a God. He’s more like Socrates or a philosopher from the Enlightenment.
The first learning is that people should not be fooled by appearances. Aech looks and sounds as a big guy. In fact, Helen is just a shy woman. Who’s behind the screen may have nothing to do with the avatar. There is only one reality. The rest is all made up. It’s easy to get confused when you move away from reality for too long.
Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe.
The second learning is not to follow anyone. Wade understands the race is impossible to win, unless you go backwards instead of rushing ahead like all the other idiots. This move gives him a new perspective. He thinks out of the box. He becomes an individual.
The third learning is that people have to make the first step. Holliday has never been able to make it while he was alive. He preferred to stay in front of his screen as opposed to going dancing. That means he preferred to stay in a virtual world instead of joining the parade and truly meeting with the other.
She wanted to go dancing, so we watched a movie.
The fourth learning is that freedom comes through questioning. Those who don’t think are exposed to slavery. Big corporations are flourishing because they take advantage of the masses instead of making them grow. If we don’t wake up, we stay in the masses. We end up accepting the cash from IOI. We end up as a battery in the Matrix. We end up talking to an OS like Theodore (cf Her).
You know you’ve totally screwed up your life when your whole world turns to shit and the only person you have to talk to is your system agent software!
Art3mis is a rebel. Yesterday she fought against the banks and big retailers. Today she fights against companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Amazon. Everyone can question the world to find the clues and walk out of the maze free. Pop culture is full of precious clues. Sometimes the most useful answers can be found in the classics such as the Shining.
Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.
The last learning is that the world can be shared or like Hannibal Lecter would say “the world is more interesting with you in it.” The purpose is not to win the game but to enjoy the game. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” as Lord Acton said. That’s why Wade resists the temptation to become the king of the world alone. He is no Marc Zuckerberg because he doesn’t cut his friends. He picks wisdom over ambition. He doesn’t shut down the system. He doesn’t turn his back on technology and progress. He chooses to regulate so his head doesn’t spin and everyone can be happy.
Should we try to save the real world or build the best virtual world? Are we playing the game for real? Is it possible to switch off for two days?
This publication reflects the views only of the author.