The new movie Ready Player One is a rousing crowd-pleaser about videogame geeks banding together to save virtual reality from the clutches of an evil corporation. But writer Carol Pinchefsky notes that the idea of gamers presenting a unified front on anything feels sadly dated in the wake of Gamergate.
“The [movie] speaks to a time when just meeting someone who knew Tolkien’s Elvish was enough to make them your automatic best friend, and we don’t have that anymore,” Pinchefsky says in Episode 304 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The proliferation of geek culture has brought out some very ugly things about it.”
Kent Bye, host of the Voices of VR podcast, reports that virtual reality simulations continue to be plagued by the same sort of harassment that defined Gamergate.
“If I were to sort of boil down Gamergate and the trolling online, the trolls start to use other people’s emotions as if it were a game, and they perceive because it is digital then it’s not real, and so it’s just a fun expression of their own free speech,” he says. “So there’s this tension between free speech versus the people who actually want to create safe spaces online, and how do you create the culture to be able to do that?”
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley is looking forward to movies that grapple with the post-Gamergate landscape, but believes that Ready Player One, which is based on a pre-Gamergate novel, was never going to be part of that conversation. “This story is a product of its time,” he says, “and in order to make it relevant to right now you would have to change literally everything about it, in which case why call it Ready Player One?”
WIRED senior editor Peter Rubin enjoyed the movie for what it is, but is hoping that future stories won’t be so firmly rooted in nostalgia.
“I think that this has kind of been great for everyone to get their giant nerdgasm…
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