– by David Kozlowski

Ernest Cline’s sci-fi novel, Ready Player One, is an action-adventure tale about escaping into an online fantasy world — constructed out of 80s geek and pop-culture nostalgia — as a reprieve from a dystopian world of the future. The strange thing is, the premise hardly seems like science fiction at this point, and maybe that’s the point.

Steven Spielberg is known for inventing believable sci-fi worlds (A.I., Minority Report), but he’s never created anything like the game environment of OASIS, a fictional space that recreates old school characters, movies, and shows from Freddy Krueger to the Iron Giant to the A-Team. The big question is, does OASIS feel “real” enough to make it a place audiences want to explore (I’m assuming that Ready Player One is destined to become a franchise, box office results dictating).

Related – Ready Player One: First Art3mis Image Hints At More Differences From The Novel

Spielberg spoke with EW about OASIS, and his goals for the virtual world:

“There are so many more compelling reasons to escape into the OASIS than exist in real life. A lot of our movie is a comparative study: Which world would they rather spend their lives in — with all the distractions and complexities and perks of the digital world of the OASIS, or with the responsibilities of being a student or a parent living in real life? It’s real life versus virtual life. Which is more compelling?”

However, one of the surprising aspects of Cline’s story is that events in OASIS can (and often do) spill out into the real-world. The novel’s key conflict involves solving a digital puzzle to obtain virtual “keys” to control OASIS — if you’re a gamer, this is essentially a giant, every-man-for-himself, mega-quest spanning the entire online universe. Naturally, because the prize is so highly-valued, many players are rather ruthless in their pursuit. Spielberg adds:

“They do come after you, and that’s when our case spills over into the real world. Our major characters, they are in mortal jeopardy.”

The EW Article contains three new images, which you can find here: EW Photos!

Ready Player One is a giant, sprawling, and surprisingly human story about friendship, technology, and the meaning of life with very stakes. There are few filmmakers who could possibly realize Cline’s OASIS, and we’re also about to get a full trailer (on Sunday, December 10), which hopefully reveals more about the two futuristic worlds depicted in this film.

Are you buying Spielberg’s vision of Ready Player One and OASIS? Let us know in the comments down below!

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.