Tag Archives: virtual reality

Movie Review – Ready Player One (2018)

Gamers vs the Man!

BQB here with a review of “Ready Player One.”

3.5 readers, I went into this movie thinking it would suck…but it didn’t.  I love it when that happens, when I got into a movie thinking it will blow goats but instead it blows hot winds of fun into my face.

Hmm…phrasing.

Anyway…in the future, the world sucks.  Poor people live in trailers stacked on top of each other and life sucks so much that people spend all of their time in a virtual world, the OASIS, where they can be anyone and do anything rather than live in the sucky world.

There is a catch – to die means to lose all progress, money, enhancements etc. you’ve made to your avatar, and to start over from scratch.  Some have spent so much time building their online personas they’d rather die in real life than begin anew again in the virtual world.

Halliday (Mark Rylance), a socially awkward to the tenth degree nerd who developed the OASIS has died but he’s left an “Easter Egg” in his game, i.e. if a gamer can solve three mysteries, he/she will get three keys to use to unlock…dun dun dun…a prize, that being controlling stock interest in the OASIS (a lot of money plus ability to run the world’s most powerful video game which accounts for a substantial amount of the global economy.

I don’t want to get bogged into the details but suffice to say, I went in thinking this would be a glorified cartoon but instead, found an interesting look at a possible technological future.  The better virtual worlds get, will they be able to solve societal problems?  After all, few can be all they want to be in reality as they are so many people competing for so few opportunities, but if everyone can be beautiful, awesome, do whatever they want in a realistic virtual game….well, is that a way to make everyone happy or is that a way to keep people from experience reality, as drab as that may be sometimes?

Pop cultural references abound as Halliday was a fan of everything 1980s.    The hero of the film Wade/Parzival Tye Sheridan, drives a copy of Marty MacFly’s DeLorean, for example.  Somehow, he and his love interest, Art3mis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke) and a band of plucky young players must save the day and defeat Sorrento, owner of IOI, a corporation set up to dump thousands of players into the game for the sole purpose of finding the keys and gaining control of the OASIS for evil purposes.

From a writing standpoint, it’s pretty slick.  It makes me want to read Ernest Cline’s novel version to see how he did it.  You’ve got human players in the human world and they’re playing in the virtual world.  They go back and forth between worlds, almost simultaneously, as sometimes human heroes are trying to save their indisposed friends who are busy playing the game from an attack from real life baddies.  It gets very complicated so I’m always curious as to how authors navigate such difficult waters.

One complaint.  I hate to sound like an old man, but even though it’s PG-13, the word “fuck” is used.  Seriously, what the fuck?  It’s used in a joke and the joke lands, ergo it’s not gratuitous but still, are there standards or what?  Either “fuck” gets you an R rating or it doesn’t.  Further complaint, “shit” seems to be really creeping into PG-13 movies and it’s like, what the hell, either these are movies that families can take their older kids to or they aren’t.

All that said, the movie was fucking good.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Will Virtual Reality Be the Next Big Thing?

Happy Saturday 3.5 Readers.

Virtual reality. How big do you think it will get?

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One of BQB’s 3.5 readers reads Bookshelf Battle in VR.

A lot of articles in the news.  Seems like every tech company from Facebook to Google is getting in on the action.

VR was dabbled with in the 1990s but the graphics weren’t that good.  Community had an episode last year where they made fun of it. (Why would you want to put o a pair of VR goggles and search through a virtual filing cabinet to find a file when you could just point and click your mouse?)

I think it all depends on the quality of games and/or experiences that can be made. If they can make something that truly immerses you and allows you to pretend to do something you could otherwise never do then they might be onto something.

At any rate, the last big tech innovation was the iPad/tablets.  Now it seems like all the tech companies are going full force into Virtual Reality.

What say you, 3.5 readers?  Would you like to read this horrible blog through VR glasses?

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 16 Interview – Saul Tanpepper – Zombified Video Gaming

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By:  Video Game Rack Fighter, Special Guest Interviewer

Today’s guest on the Bookshelf Battle Blog is Saul Tanpepper, author of the GAMELAND series, a saga set in a world where zombies outfitted with neural implants are controlled by players using video game controllers.

The carnage ensues when a group of computer hackers break into a Long Island turned wasteland and quickly learn there are consequences far beyond the average video game.

Saul, thanks for joining us.

NOTE: BOLD=VGRF; ITALICS=Saul

51TmgJ+nv1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Q.   Zombies turned into video game avatars manipulated by wealthy video game enthusiasts.  Just when I thought the world was out of fresh spins on the zombie apocalypse genre, you come up with one.  How did you do it?

A.   I read Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games right after it was published and knew that it was going to be a blockbuster and therefore a good literary model to emulate. I’d been thinking about publishing dystopian fiction (not just horror or post-apocalyptic), and since zombies were starting to get hot, and readers were demanding series, I combined the three elements together and came up with the idea for GAMELAND. The original plan was to throw a half dozen young adults into a gaming arcade with the undead for a fight to the finish, but that seemed too much like HG. I made the gaming aspect secondary and went heavier on the post-apocalyptic theme.

Q.  I hope you don’t mind if I reveal on this blog that you are, in fact, Dr. Ken J. Howe, a PhD molecular biologist and former Army medic/trauma specialist. (Don’t worry, this site only has 3.5 readers so your secret is safe.)  Upon learning this about you, several questions come to my mind, the first being, does your experience and training come in handy as a writer and how so?

A.  It’s both helpful and harmful. As a former scientist, I tend to be overly critical about technical accuracy and probabilities, which holds me back from writing anything too outrageous. This applies to the technologies referenced in the GAMELAND series. We already have the capacity to prolong life and it won’t be long before we can reverse cell death. Scientists are also dabbling in neural implantation, so it’s not a great leap to think about implanted zombies. My medical background is a great help when it comes to writing descriptions. Having personally had my hands inside chests, smelled the effects of rotting flesh, assisted with surgeries, I try to relay the physical and emotional impact of those experiences to the reader.

Q.  Last I checked, zombies are just figments of our imagination  (I hope.)  However, as a molecular biologist/former medic, do you have any thoughts on zombie physiology that you could share?  Are there any known theories on how, hypothetically speaking, a human could be turned into a zombie or exhibit zombie-ish tendencies?

A.  There are some aspects of zombie physiology which the lore currently explains poorly. For example, how do they move and moan when they don’t breathe? Why don’t they rot faster? Why do they prefer brains? Why do they go after only the uninfected? GAMELAND attempts to explain some of these discrepancies.

As far as real-life goes, zombies aren’t that much of a leap, at least if we’re simply talking about brain-dead individuals attacking other people. The bath salt incidents of a couple years back, and any number of drug or hypnosis-induced incidents we’ve seen all resemble zombie-like behavior. If the mind can be so easily manipulated by suggestion or chemicals, it’s not hard to imagine an infectious agent producing a chemical to the same effect.

As far as reanimating the dead, that requires a bit more suspension of disbelief or more faith in the paranormal. Cells tend to break down very rapidly, so unless a person has only very recently died, it’s unlikely the body will have much function. My bets for zombies are on the near-dead or recently-deceased.

Q.  How would a real life zombie video game such as the one described in your series work?  Will video games ever evolve to the point where people can be controlled with a joystick?  (And is that necessarily something we’d want?)

A.  Technology already exists to remotely control inanimate objects in virtual reality (think drones, surgery, bomb robots), and game developers have reported early success in being able to manipulate living subjects remotely in the same way as well as with the use of neural stimulation. We are on the cusp of an explosion in VR gaming. Just beyond that horizon is remote controlled live action gaming. I don’t want to say too much about it, because it would seem to make the ideas I developed in GAMELAND appear less groundbreaking, but suffice it to say, I’d be surprised if we aren’t soon forced to ponder the very same moral questions the characters in my books failed to ask themselves when it comes to this subject.

Q.  You’re also the author of The Essential Book Blog: The Complete Bibliophile’s Toolkit for Building, Growing and Monetizing Your On-Line Book-Lover’s Community.  If you had to give Bookshelf Q. Battler one piece of advice on how to improve his blog, what would it be?  (Besides obtain more than 3.5 readers.)

A.   You’re doing all the right things — writing to a specific target audience, keeping the material fresh, engaging your readers, and leveraging other people’s fan bases — so that’s a great foundation for growing your blog. It takes time, as you already know. Having a mailing list helps, as does having something to offer your readers. For example, I offer my subscribers a free starter library and often tell them about deals and giveaways before I tell the general public. I include a lot of tips in TEBB on how you can monetize your efforts to help defray any costs and build income. Even utilizing the easiest of the techniques will quickly pay for the cost of the book.

Q.  Saul, your expertise has been greatly appreciated.  Before I go, do you have any final words of wisdom that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A:  It’s been my pleasure. As far as surviving the Z-poc, my only suggestion is to get yourself a good sturdy toilet plunger (if you’ve read my series, you’ll understand why). That, and a comfortable pair of sneakers. You’ll be doing a lot of running.

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