“People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be.” – Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
Dawn, Austin Texas, Day Two, South By Southwest Interactive Festival. Welcome to an orgy of pop culture, consumerism, criticism, discovery, drinking and Texas Bar-b-que. Tom Emrich of Super Ventures, which invests in Augmented Reality startups, told me yesterday he is already experiencing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). There are a lot of acronyms around flying around here. I had to look that one up. Cline’s quote about the OASIS describes the vibe of SXSW perfectly.
On March 29, Warner Brothers is set to release Steven Speilberg’s adaptation of Ernie Cline’s seminal 2011 novel set in the dystopian future of 2045, where the nation’s youth, called “the missing millions”, prefer to inhabit a virtual world, the OASIS (an acronym with a useless and obtuse definition) to an America short of justice and long on poverty, slowly decaying from neglect. The plot concerns a contest created the recently deceased founder and owner of this virtual world, James Halliday, to collect hidden “easter eggs” inside the OASIS.
The person who solves the riddle will gain ownership of the Google of the future. Millions of people, including an evil and omnipotent corporation, IOI, and a legion of independent “gunters” (a portmanteau of “egg hunters”) have joined the search. A young gunter, Wade Watts, realizing Halliday was obsessed with his youth in the 80s, becomes a student of the period, and collects the 3 keys needed to acquire total ownership of The Oasis.
He is soon the target of IOI. Cline spins an exciting yarn whose detailed vision of virtual reality has become a nerd bible. “This movie,” Rikard Steiber, President of HTC’s Vive North America, told me, “has the potential to define virtual reality in popular culture for a generation.”
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