Warning: This post contains (very minor) spoilers for the book, and soon to be movie of Ready Player One.
Aside from the obvious, the OASIS, there isn’t really that much that is great about the world of Ready Player One. In fact the world kind of sucks. Rampant poverty, unemployment, the energy crisis, major climate problems, wars, economic instability. Rather than try to fix these problems, people have abandoned the real world in favor of living in the OASIS. And yet, above all others, I still want to live in this fantasy world the most.
Now, of course I would prefer to live in a world of sunshine and rainbows. If the world of RPO was beautiful and lush and humanity was thriving and prosperous, I would of course prefer that over the squalid dump that it actually is. Unfortunately for me, the world of RPO is not like that. However, the things that I find great about the RPO world outweigh the things that I don’t like about it.
Of course, my choice of this as my favorite fantasy world is assuming that the events in the book take place, and assuming that the future that is implied by those events comes to be. Who wants to live in a fantasy world where the bad guys win?
Give me the OASIS
RPO is my favorite fantasy world because there are several things about it that fulfill my personal fantasies like no other fantasy world has ever done. When thinking of the fantasy world that I would most like to live in, I am judging what makes that fantasy world unique, and if that unique aspect is what I would most want to change or add to the current world I am living in. The unique aspect of RPO is the OASIS.
As cool as it is, I’ve never felt like I actually wanted magic. Space is cool and all, but I have never really had any desire to go there. I love most sci fi and fantasy worlds, but none has ever really felt like it was adding anything that was missing from my life. Until the OASIS.
Despite all the flaws of the world in which it exists, the OASIS is worth it to me. When I think of what I truly want added to my world that would make my life better and more full, the OASIS comes closest to hitting that mark. My ideal fantasy world is one of imagination and creation. Of freedom in education and learning. Of fandom, the love and passion of ideas. Open source. Free. Human knowledge and passion shared without barriers throughout the world. And that is what the OASIS is.
The thing that most inspires me about the Ready Player One world is the way that people are educated.
In Ready Player One, all children, regardless of their economic standing or geographical location, have access to the same schools within the OASIS. Without geographical limitations, all children also have equal access to the same teachers. A child’s circumstances do not in any way diminish the quality of their education. Every child has access to the same educational resources.
And those resources are infinite! All people have access to all of human knowledge. A kid from the middle of no-where can visit the Louvre, and read any and every book ever written. There is no limit to what a person can learn.
Immersive and complete VR makes classes super engaging. The concepts and ideas discussed in the curriculum can literally come to life around you. Students can interact with and literally see the things they are learning in action. History comes to life, chemistry is simulated with complete safety. See real biology, see Shakespeare reenacted in front of you. How can any student find any subject boring when every class is literally a video game?
Teachers can enjoy their job because they don’t have to act as baby-sitters in VR. Teachers can mute their students, and prevent the student avatars from moving or engaging in disruptive behaviors. Without having to deal with behavioral issues, teachers can focus on teaching an interesting subject. This also makes teaching a much more rewarding and appealing job, encouraging more people to teach, and improving the overall quality of our education.
The OASIS has the innate advantage over any other fantasy world in that it can contain all other fantasy worlds within it. Anything you could possibly want to experience, you can do so (safely) in the OASIS.
Yes, in the world of RPO, magic and the like is not actually real, but in the OASIS, it can feel real. And honestly for me, that is enough. The real world is already a magical and amazing place. There is so much that is exhaustively awesome about our world, and yet people still want more. No matter how much control we have over our world and environment, we will always wish for more. We will always wish for some experience that is different from that which is ‘real’, always wish for some escape from reality. And that is what the OASIS can provide.
The thing I like about RPO is that it does not change the real world to try and fulfill that desire. It instead introduces the perfect means by which we can experience an escape from reality. Any variation on the real world that you wish to experience, you can in the OASIS.