Ready Player One is a film adapted from a book by Ernest Cline. The book centers around Wade Watts, also known as Parzival: a teenager in Columbus, Ohio obsessed with virtual reality and The Oasis. In fact, people spend the majority of their time escaping the 2045 dystopia by putting on goggles and entering the virtual world. When the Oasis creator James Halliday dies, he leaves behind the ultimate “easter egg” contest for Oasis fans. The person who can find the egg will be awarded his fortune along with control over the Oasis.
We live in a world today where VR is taking off. But in 2045, the year the movie takes place within, VR is way more than just a pair of goggles. People have full suits that can translate physical touch to their body from an interaction in the virtual world. They walk and run on treadmills to mimic what their virtual selves are doing in The Oasis, and can even purchase real-world items that are shipped directly to their homes. People build their bankroll and experience in the Oasis, explore new worlds, and battle for higher status and items.
Should you let your kids see it?
Ready Player One is rated PG-13. And there are some reasons for that rating. There are a decent amount of curse words, one of those being the f-word. The sexual innuendo throughout the film is mild, but not absent. But the most challenging part parents will have to grapple with is a very scary scene surrounding a famous horror film. We won’t spoil more than that, but it should give you a pretty good idea about the content. From our perspective, kids that are 13 and up should be fine seeing Ready Player One, and possibly kids a bit younger as well. As always, use your best judgment as parents.
And there’s actually a message here as well that parents should notice.
Throughout the movie, the theme is clear: Virtual reality and escapism is a blast, but the real world matters most. As you may have told your kids at some stage during their gaming or social media journey, it’s hard to truly know who is behind that avatar in the real world. And while there are loads of benefits to these experiences, what happens face to face, in reality, matters most.
Of course, that’s not to take anything away from this love letter to nerds and geeks. It’s so great to see the passion to dive deep into random facts in order to solve a puzzle or beat a game take center stage in a huge film.
Whether you grew up as feeling like you were too “weird” for reality, like the main character, or you’re raising someone that feels that way at times, Ready Player One helps to highlight how gaming experiences can lead to real friends in real life.
Those shared experiences are ones that many would avoid without access to gaming and virtual escapes, but they lead to friendships that are incredibly valuable.
When Steven Spielberg signed on to direct this film, it seemed like a perfect match with the 1980’s nostalgia-heavy Cline storyline. And there are plenty of 80’s pop culture references throughout, but nostalgia doesn’t clog up what truly is a fast-moving, fun movie. They’ve managed to balance the references parents will love along with some current day technology your kids will appreciate.