For a lot of people, Steven Spielberg, the director of “E.T.” and the Indiana Jones trilogy, is an integral part of the pop culture of the 1980s. The Hollywood mogul’s mark is everywhere on the decade. So it’s either a no-brainer or a head-scratcher that the Bearded One is directing the film version of “Ready Player One.”
Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” is set in a dystopian future where the majority of humanity spends its time jacked into a massive online simulation known as the Oasis that is heavily influenced by the ’80s pop culture obsessions of its creator: Dungeons & Dragons, “Star Wars” and old Atari games, among them.
Spielberg will produce and direct the film for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow. Donald De Line, Dan Farah and Kristie Macosko Krieger are also producers on the film, which has a script by Zak Penn.
While the subject matter would seem to be right up Spielberg’s alley, it does seem a bit strange that the man who helped create so much of that pop culture is now directing a film paying homage to the movies of the era.
But Spielberg has been known to pay homage to himself before. Witness the opening scene of “1941,” which was a full-on parody of the opening of his movie “Jaws.”
Spielberg is also attached to direct Jennifer Lawrence as a photojournalist in the film “It’s What I Do,” also for Warner Bros. Spielberg’s next film, “Bridge of Spies,” opens in October.
Recently, Cline spoke at the South by Southwest games conference in Austin, Texas, about how
early video games shaped “Ready Player One” and will continue to inform his upcoming novel, “Armada.”
Cline said the new book was actually inspired by the cinema work of one of Spielberg’s pals, George Lucas. “Armada,” said Cline, is influenced by “Star Wars,” namely how the film affected the video game industry. He cited a “Star Wars”-influenced game such as “Space Invaders,” and said the book imagines a universe where the games had real-world implications.
“The idea behind ‘Armada’ is that was all by design, to teach us all to control drones to fight off an alien infestation,” Cline said. “That fantasy of all these video game skills I’ve been honing — what if they had value in real life?”
It gets right to the core appeal of games, Cline said. “The role video games fill in society is they fill this hunter-gatherer need,” he said.
“All of us are hardwired by millions of years of human evolution to form teams, hunt, gather … social climb, organize things,” he continued. “These are things that are hardwired into us that we don’t do anymore. We sit in cubicles and we do things that are not related to our hunter-gatherer tribal instincts. Video games let us do all that. They let us form clans and find treasures and conquer worlds. Humans are explorers.”
— Patrick Kevin Day and Todd Martens | @LATHeroComplex
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