Could the Oasis of Ready Player One Exist in Our World?

Updated on April 3, 2018
CYong74 profile image

Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. Yong’s favourite movies and games are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.

Is our world ready for a technology like the Oasis?
Is our world ready for a technology like the Oasis?

If you’ve watched the movie or read the novel, you’d know how it’s like. The Oasis of Ready Player One is the stuff of dreams. A world made up of a thousand worlds. The collective accumulation of man’s creativity over half a century compressed into a digital cube 30 light hours long and wide. A universe, as the movie trailer describes, where people visit for all the things they can do, and stay because of all the things they can be.

Is such a fantastical realm within our grasp?

It’s anybody’s guess. For me, though, I’d say a firm no and I’m not doing so because I feel the technology involved is too unrealistic. In fact, given recent advancements in virtual reality and haptic technology, the actual science might be no more than a few years away. What makes me say no is instead man’s typical reactions towards technological or cultural breakthroughs. To put it simply, man’s endless obsessions, paranoia, and personal agendas will stifle any sort of digital paradise from appearing anytime soon. Even if it happens, you can be sure many would go to extremes to crush the fantasy. It will never be the incredible marvel it is in the novel and movie.

1. Copyright

Copyright protects creators of all genres and is generally accepted to be a good thing. Because of that, it is sometimes forgotten that copyright could also be a double-edged sword. Too often it switches to being a bane to creativity, be it in the form of barriers to entry or restriction to resources. This is made worse by the fact that anything justifying an international copyright is almost always tagged with a monetary value carrying many zeroes. In some cases, the amounts run into the millions.

Author Ernest Cline is aware of this, and in the novel, he explains that fictitious genius James Halliday created a platform so popular and profitable, everybody wanted in on the bandwidth. This scenario is plausible, though unlikely to happen in our actual world. Unlike the Internet which we now enjoy, the Oasis in Ready Player One is not merely an open platform or programme for all to access and benefit from. It’s a digital daydream that thrives on the intense love people have for pop culture i.e. commercial brands. To put it in another way, many companies would balk at the very thought of sharing their profitable creations with another organization. Basic human possessiveness would also stand in the way of any form of discussion. It’s probably not too far to say some companies might even adopt a hawkish position towards any concept of sharing. Rather than jump in, they would monitor a universe like Oasis incessantly. The moment they spot anything remotely resembling their creations, out goes their armies of rabid lawyers. Believe me, these lawyers would be deadlier than any futuristic army a virtual reality realm can conjure.

2. Commercial Competition

When considering whether the Oasis could become a reality in our world, you might think of Facebook. Indeed, the accomplishments of the leading social media platform are nothing short of astonishing. Not only has it transformed our lifestyles, it reshaped the way we communicate. What’s doubly impressive is that after 14 years, no organization has created a parallel that could remotely challenge Facebook’s domination. In every sense, Facebook is a cultural, commercial, and technological miracle. Which then suggests that given the right marketing and technology, a virtual reality “Oasis” could also transform our lives the same way.

Or not.

Don’t forget. Facebook is a giant, but only within its own room in a house full of rooms. In competition are all sorts of other social media platforms, from Twitter to YouTube, to Tumblr, to Pinterest, just to name a few. Every hour, these players feverishly compete for more of the same pie, on most days ending up with little meaningful gain. In the context of the story of Ready Player One, what does this imply? To me, it suggests that even if the Oasis does appear in our world, it is unlikely to achieve the kind of global pervasiveness described in the novel and movie. Competitors of all sorts would quickly appear, and in the long run, drive down market shares and advertisement revenues. The ultimate consequence of this is that no platform would ever accumulate the sort of financial value depicted in Ready Player One. Without that sort of money, innovation and development are constrained. In worst case scenarios, some might even end up bankrupt very quickly. No thanks to the inability to pay for the massive resources necessary to maintain such elaborate digital daydreams.

The story of Ready Player One revolves around a hostile commercial takeover. In the real world, companies would be even more cutthroat.
The story of Ready Player One revolves around a hostile commercial takeover. In the real world, companies would be even more cutthroat.

3. Health and Safety Concerns

If you’ve not read the novel, this would be lost on you, for the movie version of Parzival was portrayed by the handsome and healthy looking Tye Sheridan. In the novel, Parzival i.e. Wade Watts openly laments how he was overweight his entire life. He also attributes his weight problem to him spending too much time each day being in the Oasis. To have an idea, just imagine a frumpy teenager spending 10 to 12 hours each day locked up in his room. He survives on little more than junk food and soda. Outside of some arm and leg movements, he gets no exercise and sun too. Not a very healthy lifestyle at all, is it?

Of course, given we already have entertainment systems like the Xbox Kinect, one could argue not everyone would end up that way. Wouldn’t there be a plethora of fitness programmes in the Oasis? A whole planet devoted to fitness, perhaps named as Balboa or Sparta? Chances are, though, few players would be inclined to sweat it out in any of these, simply because you don’t need to exercise to look fit and beautiful in a virtual reality world. All you need is an hour fussing over your avatar and there you have it, you’re the next Schwarzenegger. The next Leonidas. Given this situation, how long would it be before governments are forced to intervene? Before both credible and suspect medical researches surface in the hundreds and terrify many, particularly parents? While none of these is likely to doom something as seductive as the Oasis, they would still constrict growth. Actually, all it needs is just one major health scare. The entire technology might be sent to its grave right away.

Don’t be deceived by the glamorous movie version of Ready Player One. The written version of Wade Watts is overweight and pasty.
Don’t be deceived by the glamorous movie version of Ready Player One. The written version of Wade Watts is overweight and pasty.

4. Political Wariness

Would you agree that politicians are the worst adversaries of a technology or a platform like the Oasis? If you don’t, I implore you to read up on what’s happening with the Internet worldwide. Globally, politicians are bending over backward to control and dominate information flow on the Net. When things get too rowdy for their tastes, few hesitate to press the big red button. In the case of countries like China, they even cut off access completely. They do so, then install their own preferred version of things as ostentatious replacements.

To be fair, not all political motivations are insidious. Freedom of information presentation or interaction comes with a plethora of ills, foremost of which being exploitation by extremists. (As with what’s happening with our existing Internet) That said, one cannot ignore the reality that most politicians would be appalled by the persuasiveness of information and opinions presented on a virtual reality medium, and correspondingly go all out to condemn, control, or crush the medium. Again, such antagonism wouldn’t outright destroy the technology or the medium, but it would certainly strangle it. If I were to hazard a guess, the most likely outcome of would be a mixture of what’s already written above. There would be many variants, each badly restricted by a slew of laws and regulations. None would dominate the world population the way Oasis does in Ready Player One. None would remotely be as enjoyable or as dreamy too.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Kuan Leong Yong

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • CYong74 profile image
        Author

        Kuan Leong Yong 4 weeks ago from Singapore

        Hey EDC, thanks for the detailed comment.

        Yes, if WoW is any indication, the death rule would immediately invite millions of cry babies to brawl day and night about the rules.

        But the novel kind of explains why this didn't happen, in a flimsily plausible way. The real world, simply put, was too awful, resulting in people being downright desperate to escape to the Oasis, or try to make a living through it. As for PvP, there were lots of PvP free zones in the novel version, zones which even the Sixers couldn't override. (Wade himself hid in one till he found the first key) Admittedly it's all a very convenient explanation, which might explain why some people disliked the novel.

      • profile image

        edc 4 weeks ago

        It would be IMPOSSIBLE to exist at real life. Oasis is a one character per account (or even worse credit card) game, where you care all items with you (unless some games where you can put stuff at a bank or house) and lose all the items when you die (with people being able to get it).

        If someone tried that, you would have an extreme amount of users complaining about it, saying (before and after the game is released) that the game should be changed to remove item drop......

        If and and only IF the game is released with this gameplay feature you would have people afraid of going outside of safe zones without pvp.

        An poll (more than one related poll was made) was made mmorpg forum asking permadeath haters, if they would be ok (as in, the game dont need to be "banned" its ok to exist) with a game where (at ALL servers) you start at an universe A and when you die (there is no stat or item loss) you go to universe B (at universe B if you die you continue at universe B) and universe B is 100% (not just 99.999997% like but really 100%) like universe A. Even that idea was too much for them and they could just start a game, die (without losing items or stats) and continue to play normally at universe B.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 5 weeks ago from UK

        Thanks for the tip. I've been struggling to use a cinema voucher, as there hasn't been much on locally that I'm interested in viewing.

      • CYong74 profile image
        Author

        Kuan Leong Yong 6 weeks ago from Singapore

        If you like 70s and 80s pop culture, you must watch it!

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 6 weeks ago from UK

        I've just noticed the film referred to in your article is playing at a local cinema.

      • CYong74 profile image
        Author

        Kuan Leong Yong 6 weeks ago from Singapore

        That's a very potent concept, one which I think would almost definitely be beneficial, if one could bring himself to relive such moments of grief. Am going to read up about it. Thanks for highlighting!

      • profile image

        Eurofile 6 weeks ago

        It's an interesting creative angle that I have yet to explore. There's an exhibition of games on in London at the moment. There was one featured on the BBC news today in which a guy, who lost his brother in a terror attack in Manchester nearly a year ago, has created a game based on his own journey through grief. He hopes it might help others.

      • CYong74 profile image
        Author

        Kuan Leong Yong 6 weeks ago from Singapore

        Hi Eurofile, thanks for commenting. It was mainly inspired by how some of my favourite game characters not appearing in the movie, soon after which I realized it had to be because the makers didn't want in. Also, the current social media regulation crusade our bulldog of a law minister is on at the moment.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 6 weeks ago from UK

        Interesting article with a concept that takes some getting my head around.

      working