Would Ready Player One make any sense without P2W, full loot and non-consensual PvP?

The movie Ready Player One is set in the VR-game OASIS. In this game you can play in various “planets”, but it seems some rules are universal:

  • You can buy powerful artifacts from credits
  • You can buy credits from real money and some people go real world bankrupt doing so
  • You can attack other players anywhere (like the protagonists being attacked in a virtual dance club)
  • If you die in game, you respawn without your items and credits (total death penalty)
  • The killer (or practically anyone around, see Parzival collecting cash on crashed racers) can loot the corpse of the dead

The film would make absolutely no sense without either one of these. The quest for the egg would be meaningless to both watch and do. Racers risk their in-game fortune for greater fortune (otherwise everyone on the planet would race), the IOI guys wouldn’t exist if there would be money to gain, the grand finale wouldn’t be grand if all those players wouldn’t risk (and eventually end up) zeroing out to fight for the protagonists and the fight scenes would have been laughed off not just by the people watching the movie, but also by the characters. Why should they bother to shoot back if they can respawn without loss?!

It’s funny that OASIS is probably the most hardcore game concept I’ve ever seen, even more than the usual PvP games like EVE (where you only risk your current gear). It’s funny because it was released in the peak of “accessible gaming”, where players can just progress endlessly without any competition or risk, where defeat means nothing.

Please note that the “inaccessible” nature of the game is the driving force to players to form groups. They don’t play together because they are friends, they become friends after playing together. Parzival saving Art3mis from being smashed by Kong is only meaningful because she would have lost her credits without it. Otherwise stopping her from doing that low-chance leap was just griefing and she surely wouldn’t start to socialize with him. Then they go to the workshop of H not to hang out but to fix the damaged bike which would otherwise cost lot of credits (= real money). The crafting skills of H aren’t cosmetic but really matter for them and it will also matter in the finale where her powerful crafted gear (the Iron Giant) slows down the antagonist’s Mechagozzila and literally bridges the last gap.

One can say that the OASIS may be fun to watch but not to play, which is fine for a movie, but not for a real video game. However “fun to watch” is the point of streaming and e-sports. A game with harsh death penalty, non-consensual PvP and looting corpses would be great for watching streams and pro teams, even if most people wouldn’t play it or only play in some low-stakes mode (like the frig-loller in EVE). If you enjoyed watching Ready Player One, you are a perfect audience for watching such game. Watching a low-stakes game is boring, no one would care about a guy playing, dying, respawning, rerunning, dying again and then getting some item that has no monetary value (not even in opportunity cost). Remember when the B-R battle bought record new player and real-world coverage to EVE? That was an OASIS moment.

One more thing: during the whole movie, we don’t see or hear about any game masters (IOI is just a goldfarming sweatshop and not affiliated to the game devs). We don’t see any bans, no one is filing petitions, there is no chat moderation whatsoever. Players deal with their in-game differences themselves. Another interesting concept but can only work where PvP is allowed to deal with toxic strangers and having friends is needed for success!

Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

10 thoughts on “Would Ready Player One make any sense without P2W, full loot and non-consensual PvP?”

  1. welcome to missrepresentation by the entertaiment media. (disclaimer: only watched one trailer and skimmed wikipedia on the novel, and will not watch this next teen dystopia popculture references bullshit)

    don’t think to much about it. everyone with a hint of knowledge of any subject will cringe if any media abuses some of it for the plot. like all hacking, surveilance, medical, specialist skill like playing mmos. the only thing entertainment seems to nail is pop cultural references .. because we are talking about writers, they usually have no other skill besides comming up with “engaging and entertaining” stories.

    OASIS seems to be build in a time where “everything was OK” until some dystopian plot hit the fan. So who manages the servers after that? the game? the support? people can’t afford sub after major crisis?. from wikipedia novel entry the mutual exclusive problems of “ending fossil fuel” and “overpopulation”. also the ingame currecy seems to be the only stable currency. witch seems very unlikley – ok plot! So the only thing of value seems root access for a decades old game. Why do people even bother playing this game in the first place … “it’s old”, “no new content”, “support sucks”, “pvp is to hard”. the cyberpunk dystopian plot to support the game seems very lacking. IOI could have outbuild this game several years ago. OASIS could be a rebelion run network/game (darknet) to coordinate and meet … but this does not seem the case within this RPO-universe.

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  2. Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie. I’ll see it when it’s out on DVD and I can rent it.

    It’s a movie. The protagonist risked nothing by playing because he’s the chosen one who will win. The supporting characters risked nothing by trusting him and including him in their group for the same reason. Even if a supporting character dies, they do it gladly because that’s what the script tells them to do. Otherwise, the movie is 5 minutes long and a lot of angry movie goers would demand their money back. Those other 50,000 scrubs that died in droves? Who cares? If you want hardcore, watch “Sword Art Online” the animated series. You can’t log out of the MMO, and if you die, you die in the real world as well. All the players are literally in a coma the whole time… the only way out alive is to finish the game.

    The fact that we THINK he’s at risk at all is the magic of compartmentalization, which makes movies work. It’s like Magicians. We all know there’s no actual magic involved, and if we have any sense, we know that it’s pointless to try to “figure out the trick” as well, as the entire presentation is designed to make that virtually impossible. But we fall for it anyway.

    So WHY do we think we can design games this way? Those other things work because there’s a script and the outcome is predetermined. All of these concepts would make absolutely shit-tastic games once you can’t control the script. The very point of a game is you DON’T take any real risk. The worst thing that can happen is you have to start over.

    If you want to make a MOVIE about a streamer playing a non existent game (Because no one would play it.) Then do it! (Wait, someone already did. Several times now, in fact.) But don’t think it can work otherwise because it worked as a movie.

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  3. @Smokeman: my point is that a game designed that way might be not too fun to play, but fun to watch, ergo it would serve as an online gladiator arena where “players” are either paid or fanboys of stars while the money comes from the audience.

    The thing would practically a reality show of gaming. Reality shows work!

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  4. Gevlon.

    I got that. But this is a gaming blog, not a TV show or movie blog. You can’t conflate the two.

    Games that try, and they come out all the time, fail miserably the minute players realize they aren’t “The chosen one.”

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  5. I got that. But this is a gaming blog, not a TV show or movie blog. You can’t conflate the two.
    nope, he can write about what ever he wants. the red-thread since sep 2008 would be it is a blog about goblinism, a philosophy deeply rooted in efficient monetary gain and crushing M&S BS like status virtuesignaling and moron social convention.

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  6. Anon:

    By “conflate the two” I meant takes elements from gaming, then taking similar sounding but not related elements from TV shows/Movies and equate them as if they were the same. “Conflate” is defined by Websters as “to combine (things, such as two readings of a text) into a composite whole. The editor conflated the two texts.”

    You can’t conflate these two things because they are not contextually the same. Gevlon can, of course, write about anything he wants.

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  7. The thing is, however, that there is no competition. No one has made a second OASIS, and the structure is entirely due to the whims of the creator. I mean, the entire plot pretty much revolves around the fact that no one *can* create a second OASIS, and thus everyone–including the megacorps–has to fight for control of this one.

    In the real world, someone would have immediately made an OASIS variant without PvP, and everyone would have switched to that version.

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  8. Just saw the movie was struck by one thought: you anti loot rant, doesn’t apply to this game the “5” are all there cause they have loot did they buy it? Grind it? doesn’t matter the point is as we discussed sometime ago everyone should laugh at the loot buyer…. not so in this game only due to the holy grenade, the time stopping cube, and other “bought” items were they able to advance. They were a team built around loot I have no doubt that they have many associates who couldn’t keep up cause they couldn’t buy the right loot or earn the right loot. Just a thought from the movie.

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