Ready Player One: Photography, Alternate Reality and Fiction

Over the course of 4 days I read Ernie Clines New York bestseller novel ‘Ready Player One’. My original intent was to tweet everything I found interesting, but this became imposible, it would have taken me months to read if I tweeted every single thing. I also found myself reading 100 or so pages at a time too immersed into the book to remember to take notes. The theme I found most interesting within the book is the idea of identity, knowing someone so well in a virtual world without ever meeting them. Once Ernie Cline made the comparison that Dungeons and Dragons was the original virtual reality it made me think about the role of this book. Like the protagonist Wade I found myself connecting with people I didn’t know. In Wade’s case they were real people but their avatars might not have represented them, but in my case I felt I became quite intimate with characters who didn’t even exists, all I knew of them was my interpretation of Clines writing. In turn this made me think about how this reflects within photography, in creating something fiction we are creating an alternate reality, wether it be through the more accepted route of gaming and films or through writing and photography. In photography we see all these genres, documentary, fine art, conceptual but why isn’t there a fiction genre like there is in writing? I guess you could argue in some cases there is, Cindy Sherman creates a series of characters all with fictional identities but you would never call her work fiction photography or an alternate reality.

 
Image above ©Cindy Sherman

Photography seems to still have this relationship with reality that it can’t get away from. I would like to over my career help separate this tie. Once you’re established as a fiction producer then you can start to think about sub genres, sci-fi, fantasy, romance etc… By all means photography is about telling a story, but who’s to say that story has to be fact?

Food for thought while I think about what’s my product, leaving university trying to find a voice as a photographer. See my book notes below, I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of anything, games, anime, tv, sci-fi.

  1. On page 16 and hooked already @erniecline #readyplayerone #erniecline #rpg #oasis http://instagr.am/p/U6U0aalDcC/
  2. “I had access to the OASIS, which was like having an escape hatch into a better reality. The OASIS kept me sane.”#readyplayerone #erniecline
  3. “A Gunter rite of passage, like a Jedi building his first lightsaber.” Wade Watts on coding his first Atari game #readyplayerone #gunter
  4. “The lines of distinction between a persons real identity and that of their avatar began to blur.” #readyplayerone #quote #oasis #erniecline
  5. “In a way, these old role-playing games had been the first virtual reality simulations.” #dungeonsandsragons #dandd #readyplayerone #quote
  6. Just finished level one. Damn this is a good book. meant to be reading it bit by bit. But just read 150 pages in one go #readyplayerone
  7. “It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs in the Titanic and everyone knew it.” #readyplayerone #quote
  8. 47 pages to go. Lets do this!!! #readyplayerone #finalbattle #oasis #rpg #scifi #erniecline http://instagr.am/p/VH_V7oFDVb/

RPG and Virtual Reality

I have this urge with this project to produce something really technologically advanced, the one down side, I have no idea how to build software or electronics. Or even how to go about finding someone who does, and get them to do it for free.

Recently I have been watching an anime about an RPG. The first season of ‘Sword Art Online‘ see’s the creator of a virtual world release only 10,000 copies of the game, and once logged in you cannot log out. It’s his way of playing God. Also unlike normal RPGs once you die in the game you die in real life too. The series sees almost 2 years of the game inside, people start to prefer that world to the real one, get married and forget about reaching the 100th level, as their bodies in real life are laying in a special SAO victims hospital being kept alive by a drip, exploring issues of which is the real reality? I won’t go into the storyline too much as it has loads of flaws and unanswered questions but my point is that this anime has been voted by many websites the best of 2012, when I started my symposium I wanted to explore the photograph as an alternate reality but I kept on stumbling and getting stuck with no research content. So I abandoned it, but as this anime has made me think about virtual reality even more I think there is some way I can tap into this with photography. I am not sure how yet but this has got to be a way forward for not only my work but for society too. How long will it be before products like Nervgear are mainstream? (not in the crazy trapped in a virtual world way) And how can this be utilised within photography?

Upon a new fascination with virtual realities I bought this book, which I am currently reading. Once I am finished reading it I will storify my tweeted notes and see how this has had an impact on me and how the author utilises virtual reality.

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The book is going to be made into a film as well due to it’s popularity. Watch this interview with Ernie Cline the author to hear about the book plot and the plans for the film.