In Spielberg’s Ready Player One, humanity has built the matrix and uses it exclusively for playing VR remakes of 40 year old video games. In True Names and Neuromancer cyberspace was an anarchists’ playground. A base to fight back from against despotic governments and corporations. In Snow Crash, cyberspace was a maker’s paradise – a hackerspace to rule them all.
Ready Player One is a fun movie with a failure of imagination. Set in 2045, the film is more evidence that sci-fi writers can no longer imagine the future. Fashion hasn’t changed at all, everyone still wears suits or blue jeans and checked shirts. Technology hasn’t changed either, although there are lots more drones. Drones, facial recognition, VR bodysuits – the future has no tech that would look out of place in 2014. Of course, “the film is a comment on today’s society,” but I’m pretty sure the filmmakers would have added more futurism if they thought it would work. The point is that right now any future predictions feel anachronistic, even when you are actually trying to predict the future.
The film has a justification – people are hopeless so they escape to the matrix. I just find it depressing that all they want to do there is play Minecraft and Halo while dressed as Disney characters. Ready Player One seems to think that playing EA’s latest games is an act of cultural rebellion. It’s against makers and creating, and in favour of fanboys and consuming.
But maybe that’s not far from the truth. People who jack into the matrix in 2018 are mostly only sharing memes about Trump, posting baby pictures and, yes, playing EA’s latest video games. Or more often, watching someone else playing them. The tragedy of today’s online networks is that they’re so corporatized and boring.