The book and Movie "Ready Player One" gives us a glimpse of a possible future. Behind the nostalgia and futurism is several societal problems that paint a bleak picture.
Recently I watched the movie Ready Player One. I enjoyed all of the movie and pop culture references found in the story, as well as the concept of a virtual world. After thinking about it for awhile, I have come to several disturbing conclusions.
A basic overview
WARNING: Spoilers ahead. In case you haven't read the book or seen the movie, be warned that I might give away some story details. The story is basically Steve Jobs meets Willy Wonka.
A genius inventor creates something that revolutionizes the world, becomes a billionaire, then dies. But before his death, the creator of the VR world develops a contest with challenges where the winner inherits the entire company, the billions of dollars, and complete control over every aspect of the virtual world. Sounds pretty cool, right?
The more things change
Despite being set decades in the future and the presence of advanced technology, the real world is basically the same as today. Greedy corporations, widespread consumerism, and a population of sheep following the latest trend populate this world.
It is stated in the movie that people do everything in the virtual world. The only reasons they leave are to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom. People use the VR world as a means of escape from their bleak lives. This is a dream for an advertiser. And that is exactly the goal of the chief antagonists.
A rival corporation (the Microsoft to Apple) is jealous of the success and wants to win the contest so that they can control everything. One of their ideas is to fill people's field of vision with pop-up ads and commercials to generate more revenue. They recruit the best players to try to win the contest for them.
What does the future hold?
Even though this is a work of fiction, the future is plausible. Many companies today are dumping millions of dollars into AR and VR in the hopes of capturing the market. Eventually someone will crack the code and unlock a whole new experience and consequentially a revenue stream.
I can easily see a world where people choose to escape instead of engage. Today social media is a time suck for many people. Just imagine a digital world where you can work, play, find love, and do pretty much anything you want.
What do you think? Is Ready Player One a revelation of the not-so-distant future? Or an impossibility? Let me know in the comments.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.