Does Ready Player One predict the future of gaming?
Technology and gaming seem to go hand-in-hand. The development of AR and VR largely came about due to our desire to enhance the gaming experience. These developments have, in turn, exploded onto other fields as well. These days, such technologies are applied to medical science, military training, and cultural and arts fields, among many others.
The American science fiction movie (and novel) paints a grim picture of the future. In the movie, much of humanity escapes the real world to a virtual reality world called OASIS. The novel also paints a very impressive level of technology. But could these technologies ever find their way into the real world?
Future technologies in Ready Player One
Ernest Cline's 2011 novel, "Ready Player One" paints a rather grim view of society's growing reliance on technology. However, the book also presents some exciting possibilities that VR and other future technologies could offer.
1. Full-immersion virtual reality
Ready Player 1 depicts a VR experience that is so seamlessly immersive that there are no physical barriers between the player and the external world. In the movie, players can touch, pick up, and carry digital items that don't actually exist in the physical world. They can also sit in virtual seats and lean on virtual exteriors without falling in the real world.
However, while such technology looks great on screen, full-immersion VR technology is extremely difficult to achieve in real life, primarily due to its impracticality. For example, you can see people running out in public attached to their VR screens in the movie, which is obviously very dangerous.
2. The Void
Modern VR technologies can be highly immersive when the physical play area is made to match the virtual environment. Interestingly, VR theme parks like The Void presented in Ready Player 1 are already being opened around the world.
In The Void, groups of players can enter the same physical environment for a virtual quest. Players can roam around a maze that completely matches the world they experience in their VR headsets. So, when a player sees a surface in VR, they can touch it and feel it because there is also an item in the physical environment.
3. The OASIS
Much of the Ready Player 1 movie takes place in The OASIS, a massive multiplayer online game (MMORPG) to which people escape the problems they are facing in real-life. The protagonist of the movie, Wade Watts, describes The OASIS as a place where anything and everything is possible.
Since player avatars are fully customizable in The OASIS, the game is also full of pop culture references. For example, video game protagonists like Tracer from "Overwatch" and Chun-Li from "Street Fighter" have made their way to the game, among many other popular video game heroes.
The future is already here
Even if you are not up to speed with the most recent developments in VR, it seems that technology is advancing at an accelerating rate. The drive to make games more realistic and immersive speaks to our need for greater authenticity. This collective desire of ours has fed into new innovations like Oculus Rift and HoloLens.
Basically, the gaming industry is inspiring and refining VR technology. It's also normalizing it. Advanced technologies such as the ones seen in Ready Player One are already becoming a reality.
Undoubtedly, some types of games will benefit more from these technologies than others. A GTA game with a full-body sensory suit would be something extraordinary, while a new online casino would not benefit much from implementing this costly technology.
However, a lot still has to be done for technologies like VR and AR to become mainstream. As the VR expert, Dr. Shell said in a Forbes magazine interview: "We haven't really passed VR 1.0 yet; untethered usage is either unreliable or extremely expensive. We're moving towards version 2.0 with eye-tracking, larger fields of view, higher resolutions, better audio, and six degrees of freedom, but these areas still need to be investigated further."
It remains to be seen what the future of VR and AR will hold exactly. But one thing is for sure – technology and video games are going to become exponentially more advanced in the future.