Hey, Geeks. Welcome to The Geek Embassy’s new series — Your Favorite Thing Sucks! Where I get to point out all the worst parts of your favorite things.
Let’s start with something new that everyone is talking about: Ready Player One. Just so you know, this article only covers the events in the movie, and I’m not going to discuss all the things the movie did differently than the book because I want to go to bed sometime tonight. I’m also not going to discuss the disastrous implications of a society that runs almost exclusively in virtual reality, because I already did that in this article series. You can discuss whatever you want in the comments, however.
Also, make sure you listen to the entire Embassy discuss Ready Player One here.
Everyone Sucks and So Do You
Ready Player One is a visually pleasing — even stunning — movie, and it has its fair share of plot holes. Like Old Man Simon Pegg somehow being the Curator 24/7 or five random people from an insanely large MMO all ending up within walking distance of each other. But that’s not what makes this move suck. It’s the people. Seriously. They’re all just terrible. And honestly, so are you.
Art3mis/Samantha is the closest thing we have to a genuine hero and she’s not even the main character. She is the only person who gives even a tiny handful of fucks about the real world. You know — that terrible hellscape of stacked trailers and drones that scan everyone when they’re not placing bombs. She is the ONLY person who seems to want to make the real world a little less hellish, and when she’s finally given the financial and political means to do so, what does she and her even-worse boyfriend decide to do?
Lock the doors to the Oasis and force people to miss work and live in their shit-filled lives for two whole days a week.
Unless she and the rest of the High Five are offering means of employment, education, or resource centers in the real world, their end strategy really destroys any of the good things that people actually have in this garbage fire. But hey. At least she feels comfortable enough to show her face now.
You Didn’t Even Figure Out the Real Bad Guy
Seriously. All the High Fivers are like that. But we like them because most of us are nerds and want to back the person who wins with pure skill and a joy of the game rather than the min/maxers, spambots, and every terrible thing about MMOs that Sorrento represents. The people that take the fun out of games by turning it into number crunching and pay-to-win races rather than anything fun. Sorrento is that guy. He is just the worst.
Or is he?
The movie tries to make it seem so. The entire point of the challenge is to remind people that they’re supposed to play for fun. To just enjoy life sometimes. And it delivers it in a super-meta conglomerate of nostalgia and Easter Eggs. Which is where we remember that minmaxers are not the ultimate evil—especially in a world where everyone’s livelihood depends on winning (because, seriously, I don’t think ANYONE in this movie had a real-world job). If you have to win in order to feed your children, min-maxing is the best thing you can do. And for the majority of people in IOI—that was the goal. Just to make it long enough to pay their debts. Do you think the High Five took on all those bills after they started force-closing The Oasis twice a week? I doubt it.
No. You know what the real evil in this is? Think about all those Easter Eggs you saw in the film and how happy it made your heart to see them. Think about how excited you got to see your favorite character for a split second in one scene. Now think about that guy you’re going to watch the movie with someday who is going to pause the film and point out every single character in the frame and chuckle disdainfully when you ask “where are they from?”
You and Your Friends Are Worse Than You Think
There will always be people that notice more or understand more references, and you know how that takes the fun out of the entire experience. Because no matter what you enjoy, someone is always able to make it seem like you DON’T enjoy that because they know more about it than you do. RPO’s entire contest is based around you needing to be that guy. That’s why most people clan up or why IOI hires an entire army of loremasters for it—because who could possibly know everything about everything without being an insanely elitist douche?
That’s right. Z. Z is the elitist we all hate at parties — but the game is designed to reward him for that. Which is ironic since Halliday wanted to create a game for people to just enjoy, rather than obsess over. But then Z comes along and gets to be that guy that knows more about your favorite thing than you, and is thus deemed “better.” He’s that guy that stands in line for a new Star Wars movie saying how much you should hate it while making fun of you for not knowing that the actor who played Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy is Ewan McGregor’s uncle in real life. And him knowing everything about all the things you thought you loved makes him win. You thought you respected and loved Halliday? Well, apparently you don’t or else you would have more keys, wouldn’t you?
In the end, this film is the fantasy fulfillment of every geek out there whose head is filled with useless trivia and video game knowledge, but no real-life skills. That fantasy that maybe all the decades we’ve spent with a controller in hand might amount to something. And who knows? Maybe it has.
Because I bet you think you can point out more references than your friends.
Tahani Nelson is a “Geek of All Trades.” She’s dabbled in pretty much everything, but holds a special place in her heart (and schedule) for video and tabletop games. Other interests include attending Renaissance Faires and Cons in full dress, practicing calligraphy, writing fantasy novels, discussing comparative philosophy and morality, and apparently listening with a blank smile on her face anytime someone tries to convince her that Magic: The Gathering is as much fun as D&D.