Ready Player One’s Message

Science fiction is an insightful genre giving a unique perspective into a strange, yet potential, future.  How many times has a book concluded leaving the reader with a distinct impression of the writer’s invented world?  Some books, however, create a stepping stone from the current day into that unknown and an eerily familiar possible future.

In 2011, author Earnest Cline published a novel set in the year 2044.  Due to the collapse of global economies, the problems of the average citizen were too overwhelming to fix. The solution to escape the realities of poverty arrived in the form of an online virtual reality platform available to everyone. By designing a body and establishing a private name, the “player” only had to slide the virtual mask over his or her eyes and enter the realm of the Oasis. Without limits, the “player” could travel anywhere in the world or universe, climb the tallest mountain, or connect with friends thousands of miles away in seconds. The platform provided children a place to attend school and adults the opportunity to connect with colleagues and friends, achieve financial gain, find entertainment, and feel empowered without leaving the house.  Our escape is already in real time, although not quite as advanced.  Are you “Ready Player One?”

Avatar

The reference to being anything you want resonates a clear message not only in the book but in our own time.  Similar to establishing your online settings, in the Oasis, the “player” must design a computerized body known as an avatar, implying you can walk, see, talk, and aerobically move in a frame.  Would you prefer to be a seven-foot-tall giant, a curvy supermodel, a superhero with a mask, or perhaps an alteration of yourself?  Would you choose to be male or female, younger or older, slimmer or taller?  In the form of an avatar, the options are unlimited.  When the challenges of the day are spent relaxing behind a computer screen, our avatar is apparent through a perception.  Pictures and words offer friends an alternative reality into our lives by revealing our proudest and happiest moments.

An Alias

With a creative name such as “Parzival,” a character of legend who seeks to find the Holy Grail, or “Art3mis,” known as the Greek goddess of the hunt, an alias conceals your identity.  And, under the veil of secrecy, how does a “player” know whether a best friend or an adored girl is who they are?  One distinct message readers and moviegoers will discover is that reality requires a leap of faith and trust to live, truly live, in the real world.  While friends are found through an online platform, discarding the secret identity, and the game, can lead to happiness.

Back to the Future

If you were a child of the 1980s, you might recall the Atari 2600 with video games named Adventure, Asteroids, or Donkey Kong.  Years were spent learning the rules, resetting and starting over to achieve an improved score.  And, perhaps, two of your favorite movies were “The Iron Giant” and “Back to the Future.” It’s relevant information because the theme of the book centers on knowledge of ‘80s nostalgia.  With time on your hands to revisit the past concerning the people and places, novels, movies, and television, the comprehensive history is a valuable advantage to save the future citizens in 2044.

Technology

Drones may one day deliver everything from a package to an extra-large pizza.  With every desire arriving at the front door, how will people of the future exercise? That, too, requires technology and acquiring pricey gear.  Imagine a multi-directional treadmill along with a fully functional mobile suit specialized for acrobatic movements such as jumping, flying, and somersaulting in a safe location.  With the ability to play the game well, an avatar can accumulate prizes such as coins, distinct powers, or specialized items.  And, if the game ends, the player cannot resolve matters by a simple reset.

Game Over

Science fiction is an eye-opening genre. A dystopian setting is a premise of possibilities; yet, the message in Ready Player Onecan be stated in one quote, “As terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find a warm meal and true happiness.”

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