Earnest Cline’s VR steeped dystopian novel Ready Player One has a special place in the hearts of VR developers and enthusiasts. With the announcement that Steven Spielberg will be directing the film adaptation, a lot of folks are really excited. The excitement stems not just from our collective hopes of a great movie but what the movie could do for the burgeoning VR industry. It’s even possible that the movie will be VR’s first ‘killer app.’
OK it won’t really be an app in the traditional sense of the term (although I do expect a killer VR add-on piece) but it may well serve the function of one. What I mean is that the film could serve as a catalyst for the rapid adoption and mainstreaming of VR tech – the thing that makes the average consumer say “I need that.” If the movie is true to the book it will inspire a new generation with (and remind the old generation of) the promise of VR.
When I walked out of the Lynbrook Movie Theater in 1992 having just seen The Lawnmower Man I was filled with those same feelings. I was also rather bummed because I knew that what I just saw was fiction. There was no way the Smith Corona word processor in my den was going to be able to drive 90 FPS to an HMD. When people walk out of Ready Player One they are going to be walking out into a vastly different world. A world with Rifts and Vives, Gears and Durovi. They will be walking into a world where we, the VR community, can say: “It’s here. It’s real. You can have it now.”
So while we bide our time awaiting the consumer release of the Oculus Rift and Valve’s Vive, we should also mark our calendars for the opening night of Ready Player One. I think we will look back on that day as a milestone in the history of VR – the day everyone else realized that VR is real and that it’s going to change the world.
by Eric Greenbaum