Ready Player One VR experience teases fans with 80’s nostalgia and interactive exhibits

Chris Duncan

Of all the events at this year’s SXSW festival, the Ready Player One VR experience might have the longest wait, but those with patience will be rewarded with a tease for the highly-anticipated film.

Based on the 2011 novel of the same name, Ready Player One is set in 2045, where people have found safehaven from the world’s energy crisis in a virtual reality universe called OASIS. Wade Watts spends all of his time in the universe searching for easter eggs, when one day he’s sent on a treasure hunt to find a fortune.

The OASIS is chock full of 80’s nostalgia, which is apparent from the Ready Player One experience at SXSW. After waiting in a lengthy line, participants are greeted with what could be a recreation of one of the film’s sets — posters on the wall about Back to the Future’s Marty McFly, swivel chairs and more bring an 80’s feel to the experience immediately. From there, participants walk through a futuristic-looking hallway of lights and enter the first floor.

More relics from 80’s life cover the area, including an actual DeLorean modified to look like one of the vehicles from Back to the Future. There are a couple of lounges, smattered with working Speak & Spells, an 80’s Fender Tube Amp and a variety of literature from the area. From there, participants can go make their own custom avatar, participate in 80’s trivia, or make their way upstairs to the main show — the VR experience.

Using HTC Vive VR headsets, the Ready Player One experience is an attempt to link users into the film’s universe. Anyone who’s used a VR headset before understands the basics, but each individual headset has its own environment to ensure users aren’t bumping into each other. The cinematic experience that follows is fun, but considering the two hour plus wait some might have to endure just to get their shot, it’s a bit of a letdown.

Overall, the Ready Player One experience does a good job immersing its participants in the film’s lore and excitement. Although the VR experience could be better and more efficient for attendees, the sets and interactions are enough to make the entire endeavor worthwhile for fans.