Pop Culture and the Metaverse Part 3
Here, I’ll be covering movies that include aspects of virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence or other aspects that are part of the megatrends shaping the metaverse.
Ready Player One
Set in 2045, Ready Player One focuses on the virtual platform of OASIS. While the physical world continues to diminish into ruin, an unlikely Hero Wade Watts is determined in the treasure hunt of OASIS searching for fortune left behind by the deceased creator of OASIS, James Halliday.
Ready Player One is most often considered the movie “explaining the metaverse” despite the fact that it assumes that a single company would end up controlling everything. This is a notion of critiqued elsewhere, because it is important to realize that the metaverse will not be a single metaverse.
Nevertheless, the movie does a great job of showing what immersive experiences in VR might be like some day. You might also enjoy the book, which is a love-letter to fans of Dungeons & Dragons and pop culture.
Set in 2054, police are able to use psychic technology to arrest criminals before they commit their crime. For Tom Cruise, leader of the Precrime unit, all is well until he is convicted of a crime he has not committed yet to a man he has never met. The computers in Minority Report utilize a gesture-based augment reality interface that has been the inspiration for a number of efforts to create the type of UI we’ll need to deal with a keyboard-less environment with multiple streams and layers of information.
Avatar explores the world of Pandora by placing humans into a simulation like reality into the body and minds of the Na’vi. Living in an environment poisonous to humans, the Na’vi are a highly advanced species capable of things beyond human intelligence. The technology of being able to move a human’s consciousness into another species is astounding. Avatar explores this concept as well as flaunting the capabilities of AR and VR technology.
In Iron Man, Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark is kidnapped and instructed to create a devastating weapon he turns the tables on his kidnappers. Creating the Iron Man suit, Stark breaks free returning to America with his creation where he refines the suit to help fight against crime and terrorsim. JARVIS, Tony Starks all in one personal assistant allows for him to be able to create in AR and VR while saving the world.
Wreck it Ralph
In Wreck it Ralph 1 & 2, videogame villain, Ralph, is on a quest to become the good guy after being tired of villainy. His quest for a hero’s story ends up creating havoc for his arcade along the way. Ralph is able to travel across the entirety of the internet, from game to game, and displays the potential interconnectedness of metaverse opportunities.
Focusing on a group of young teenage girls, #Horror explores the repercussions of social media and its impact on the minds of 12- year old girls. Things take a turn for the worse when a innocent game of hide and seek turns into a slash-tag horror. #Horror showcases the dangers of social media of who is exposed to what. The film warns against the over-exposure of young girls and shows how their online platform is paralleled to a game of stars, points, and a social leaderboard affecting their daily lives at school.
Following a police chase through the streets of Los Angeles, V/H/S: Viral motivates a group of teens to capture the footage unaware of the horrific events that will become of them. VHS: Viral showcases the implications of live streaming horrific events and its impact on the internet and the physical realm. While this horror movie is fiction, it asks the question of sharing a ‘virus’ virally that exists in a metaverse-like realm.
After winning a fully computerized Smart House in a competition, The Coopers meet PAT (Personal Applied Technology) who helps make sure the appliances and the house is running smoothly. In an attempt to stop his father from dating after his mother has died, Ben programs their smart house PAT to be more motherly. But PAT begins to take extreme control over the household. Smart House incorporates the fears of home automation, and the current capabilities of our own Amazon Alexa voice features products. PAT explores the boundaries of who controls who. Technology, or humans?
The story of Her begins with Theodore, who earns a living by writing personal letters for other people, his heart broken after his marriage ends. He becomes fascinated with a new operating system and meets “Samantha.” Although they start off as friends, feelings soon progress and turn into something else. Theodore’s relationship with a computer simulation shows how our interactions with technology have real life implications, like relationships in the metaverse — and shows how powerful artificial intelligence could become.
Perhaps the earliest “metaverse” to appear in film, Tron details the adventures of videogame developer Kevin Flynn who is transported into the realm of the computer where he encounters Tron, a security-program that “fights for the users.”
Originally created in 1982, the film was revisited in 2010 as Tron: Legacy and features a soundtrack by Daft Punk:
The Matrix series follows the adventures of Neo (“The One”) as he battles against the oppressive computer overlords of the Matrix, a virtual reality in which all humans are connected from cradle to grave.
The Matrix covers a lot of ground — it explores a ton of philosophical questions (most notably, the Allegory of the Cave and the Experience Machine) along with the potential future that could result from runaway artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology.
If you’re looking for a less-known cult-classic, Strange Days is a movie created in the years leading up to Y2K — and reflects some of the anxieties and fears of the time. The film deals with the implications of an illegal technology that allows you record your sensory experiences, which may then be re-experienced by other people (a concept that was revisited in Cyberpunk 2077 as the “brain dance” system).
After being kidnapped and created into a drug mule, Lucy is implanted with a contraband that ends up leaking into her system. She develops the ability to completely control her brain 100% and utilize powers of telekinesis. Lucy’s ability to upload her entire omniscience to a computer tempts the question of our ability to store our own knowledge into the metaverse.
Books and Television
Want to explore more of the fiction that has inspired — or warned against — the metaverse?
- Check out my article covering many of the books about the metaverse.
- Explore the extensive world of television and the metaverse.
- Want to learn how the word “metaverse” came about? Read more about its origins, related concepts and etymology.
- “The Metaverse Value Chain” will help you understand the seven industries that are building the metaverse .
- Flip through my “Building the Metaverse Megadeck” for a casual investigation of what the metaverse is all about.
- 9 Megatrends Shaping the Metaverse covers some of the huge technology and social trends that will determine the course of the future.
Did I miss something?
Looking for your favorite movie about the metaverse, and it’s not here? Tweet me and if I hear enough, I’ll add it! (and probably watch it!)
This article was created in collaboration with Erin McCarrie.