Wow, I haven’t posted in 4 months ;; I’m alive I swear!
This column is not FFXIV-related.
Published in 2018/05/31 issue
Since it was my birthday on May 1st, I received many celebratory messages from our Warriors of Light! I checked the various social media sites and received video and Blu-ray gifts, making it a very enjoyable day. Allow me to use this space to express my gratitude.
Now then, it’s May. While the rest of society is enjoying the extended holiday known as Golden Week, I somehow managed to break through the Patch 4.3 P/D checks, succeeding in securing the calendar holidays off. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve gone to a movie theatre, so I’ll be talking about that today.
I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers, but those who really don’t want to know anything about the movie should wait until after seeing it to read this. You don’t have to detract from your enjoyment by forcing yourself to read this, and I don’t mind if you skip this column entirely. By the way, the movie I watched was Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One (if you’re going to retreat, now is the time).
This movie contains a lot of film, anime, and subculture references, so based on one’s knowledge in those areas, there’s a marked difference in the number of things to “grin” at. Some people may say it’s a matter of generations, but I feel that what we colloquially call “otaku power levels” plays a greater part. I enjoyed it very much, so if you’re the kind of person who gets the references that sometimes come up in this column, I strongly recommend watching this movie.
It takes place in the near future, and depicts a huge online VR game called “OASIS” and the players that go there from the real world. This is probably already enough to pique the interest of gamers, online gamers, and FFXIV players. The movie itself prioritizes entertainment value first and foremost, so I’ll set aside the topic of whether or not such a game would be feasible within the next few decades. There’s no need to overthink that, so I respect Spielberg for not letting the technological terms become incoherent.
The online VR game “OASIS” is so prominent in this game’s world that everyone plays it, and currency earned in-game can be used to buy things in the real world. In other words, if you make a name for yourself in the game, your accomplishments can carry over into real life—it’s a world an online gamer can only dream of.
However, it’s not just a dream. In 2003, a virtual world game called Second Life was launched, and there you can buy in-game land with in-game currency (Linden dollars, L$) and exchange it for real money. You can also do things like buying a skyscraper and selling the walls as advertising space.
Many people live in this world, and what they see there has real-world advertisement value. At first, dress-up items for your avatar were popular, but before long, the assets you owned in Second Life became your status, and this spurred on real money trading. There is finite housing in Second Life, so if a late starter wanted to own a house, they’d have to buy it from an existing owner. It can be bought with in-game currency too, but during peak times it was much easier to buy with real money.
Unfortunately, news that you could make money in Second Life spread far and wide, and unknown companies began entering in droves with that as their goal. These killjoys took over the world in a flash, and the world’s population drastically decreased for some time. Despite that, the game has since regained stability, and continues to operate as one of the ultimate sandbox games.
I can only surmise that if it weren’t for the extreme craze at the time—if things had evolved in the right direction—innovation in VR technology would’ve progressed faster in order to make Second Life’s world more realistic. Seeing OASIS strongly reminded me of that. Many things in the movie are exaggerated for cinematic effect, but I felt that the underlying idea was incredibly realistic.
In Ready Player One, the creator of this ultimate VR game appears as a character. On his deathbed, he announces to the players that he’s hidden the game’s ownership rights (which are essentially the ownership rights to a giant corporation) somewhere in the game, and they are to search for it. He’s a similar character to Gol D. Roger from One Piece.
Searching for the creator’s hidden treasure and running into conflicts on the way… is the gist of what happens in this movie. Simple and straightforward. The story progresses with the characters traveling between the game world and the real world. The visuals are fantastic and the movie is overflowing with entertainment value, so it can be enjoyed by anyone of any gender or age.
Actually, when I was watching this movie, I was extremely nervous from the midpoint onwards into the latter half. I was terrified of what statement the director was going to make, in what should be a straightforward ending. I’ve always been a fan of Spielberg and his easy-to-understand direction. I don’t mean that all of his films are easy to understand, but that he creates them knowing who he’s targeting with what message. That is easy to understand.
Many of his films don’t run away from difficult themes, but in return, are not well-received by the general public. And then there are ones like this, which are completely focused on being a “work of entertainment.” It goes without saying that they make a good deal of money, and it’s because of this that he can film what he wants for the next one. Catching a glimpse of this aspect makes me respect him all the more.
So, what is this director going to assert at the end of this movie? I was afraid to the point where I was denying it in my heart: “Surely he’s not going to say that, right?” In a way, that was more suspenseful than the protagonist’s actions leading up to the end.
How the director chose to end the story and what he tried to say is obvious to anyone who watches the movie until the end. Indeed, he is a very “easy to understand” director. I felt that I’d watched a similar film in the past, but then realized that it was a Spielberg film. It was from a different time with a different setting, but it was also an action-adventure with characters assigned duties. The antagonists aren’t completely bad people either, and you just can’t hate them.
In the winter of third grade, I played Mario Bros. and was floored. I thought, “I want to make games when I grow up.” Two years later, I watched that film, and at the time, it was just as exciting to me as Mario Bros was. Its flaws stand out to me now, but I still think it’s a wonderful film. And Ready Player One even shares those same flaws. “The director is still a boy at heart, huh?” I thought, as I received that same courage once more, over thirty years later.
Ready Player One is a wonderful work of entertainment that grants you the energy to live on in this “world.”
 It’s hard to say whether Second Life can be called a game. At the time, it was also called a “metaverse.” It’s a sandbox where you make your own goals.