Independent Learning – Groh
Over Thanksgiving break, I read Ready Player One. It's like a modern 1984. The book really is foreshadowing the potential of VR as it continues to become more pervasive in our society.
The story follows teenager Wade as he plays a contest to gain the rights to the most lucrative and popular video game of all. The OASIS is a mixture of a role-playing game with aspects of social media. He has to win the contest before Innovative Online Industries can win and monetize the entire video game.
What is so striking about this book, especially in today's FCC climate, is that it mimics what is happening today. Wade's battle to beat IOI to the finish line is much like the pushback the U.S population has given to the FCC repealing net neutrality. Both issues concern a more or less free internet so that everyone can have access to it and multinational corporations don't over-monetize it.
Beyond today's immediate issues, the book shows what life could be like if we let VR take over. It is as fun as a video game, provides the escape from the real world like a video game does, and it allows you to portray yourself as anyone you want, much like social media. The culmination of these factors resulted in a near-apocalyptic United States.
It also addressed the issues of over-consumption of our resources, global warming, and continual population growth. In the novel, it seemed like humans exhausted the earth's resources and potential. The earth turned into disarray with large slums, the bigger wealth gap, and a vastly different environment because of global warming.
It was really enlightening reading this book. It was like taking a glimpse into the future of what could be. The scariest thing about the book is that Ernest Cline doesn't seem tooo far off in his interpretation of what our society could look like in 40-50 years.