Inside the ‘Ready Player One’ OASIS at SXSW

Ready Player One arrives at SXSW.

Ready Player One is one of the most anticipated films due to hit theaters on March 29th. Taking place in the year 2045, the world based on Ernest Cline’s best selling novel is bleak. But there’s one place where you can escape to a virtual universe, an immersive world where you can go anywhere, do anything, and be anyone. Welcome to the OASIS.

Located in a massive building in Austin, Texas, Warner Bros. brought an in-person version of the Ready Player One virtual world to life at SXSW. The OASIS at SXSW is everything you’d imagine, packed entirely with 1980’s references from the story.

The experience starts off by walking directly into main character Wade Watt’s room where you are taken into a neon filled hallway that leads into the OASIS. The laser light filled space surrounds you with beautiful sounds, a smattering of 80’s classics from Michael Jackson, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Erasure, Grandmaster Flash, Annie Lennox, AH-Ha! All remixed into the ultimate 80’s mixtape.

Tye Sheridan spinning in VR.

Walking deeper into the space, a full on dance party is taking place. And of course an 80’s dance party in the physical and digital world wouldn’t be complete without the star of the Ready Player One, Tye Sheridan, spinning in VR on stage with the The Wave VR.

A cassette mural packed with flashing lights spelling out “RPO” mixed art blanketed one wall. The lights pulsated to the music, creating the ultimate visual mix.

All attendees to the Ready Player One experience received an RFID bracelet that allowed you to scan and participate in 80’s trivia – competition was fierce and highest scores were featured on the leaderboard.

The experience screamed 80’s with every small detail. It doesn’t get better than sitting in a DeLorean, hanging out with Robbie Sr, having a go on Speak and Spell, trying to create that perfect Etch-and-sketch drawing, being the fastest to solve the Rubix Cube, getting the highest score on Space Invaders, or trying to magically hop on a Hoverboard.

Everything that you remember as a kid with a wink of the future was packed in this SXSW OASIS experience.

HTC Vive helped bring many of the virtual activations to life with the HTC Vive Pro and Vive Wireless adapter. This is the first time outside of CES and Mobile World Congress where consumers could actually experience the Vive headset, letting you more freely move and jump in the handful of Ready Player One experiences.

“We are at South by Southwest debuting eight VR experiences that transport festival goers off the streets of Austin inside of the OASIS, the Ready Player One universe, showing people that virtual reality is not a far-out science fiction concept – it’s a reality now,” said JB McRee, Senior Manager of Product Marketing, HTC VIVE. “As we approach the movie release on March 29th, each of the eight experiences will be made available for free on both Viveport and Steam.”

HTC Vive showcased eight film inspired VR experiences as part of this Ready Player One experience. I created my own avatar with the Ready Player One: Avatar Creator by Morph3D.

A few of my favorite experiences also included, Smash by 2 Bears Studio that featured swift moving spheres that multiply and increase in size to ricochet and bounce in an 80’s grid-like tunnel.

Fracture was another experience created by 2 Bears Studio. The 80’s throwback game let you hit a ball with a bat – the ball smashes bricks and cubes. Think of it as a super-powered Tetris with a bat and ball, letting you smash everything in VR! The HTC Vive Pro and Vive Wireless Adapter makes this all possible, letting you freely swing, jump and actually get active while immersed in VR.

The Wave VR’s “The Distracted Globe – Zero Gravity Dance Club” allows people to be immersed into the club scene right out of the film action packed with 80’s avatars, visuals and music in zero gravity.

“We think this will be a big moment for VR. We want to show the world that experiences previously depicted only in sci-fi films and dreams are coming true now,” said Adam Arrigo, CEO and Cofounder, The Wave VR. “It was amazing working with HTC and Warner Bros to create this very special show. They sent us the actual film assets from ILM, which we used as the starting point for building the world. So it’s literally like stepping into the distracted globe scene. Of course we also added our special brand of audio visual magic.”

Ready Player One will be one of those films to make a worldwide cultural imprint on people for years to come – the same way Spielberg’s other films have impacted kids of the 80’s and beyond.

Whether you are a child of the 80’s or not, the experience will make you smile, so pop open a Tab, have a Twinkie, and get ready for Ready Player One to hit theaters on March 29th.

Image Credit: VRScout – Valerie Vacante

About the Scout

Valerie Vacante

Val Vacante is the Director of Strategy for global customer experience agency, Merkle, a dentsu company, where she uncovers cultural trends, designs strategies, and next-generation innovations. Val is also the Founder of strategy and innovation firm Collabsco. Val has pioneered digital products and integrated marketing experiences across digital platforms, connected communities, IoT, and extended reality experiences for Fortune 100 brands and up-and-coming startups. Named Top 25 Women in Tech, 40/ Forty, and Top 10 Pioneering CEOs to Follow, she serves on the SXSW Innovation Advisory Board, MassChallenge Expert, an international speaker, and writer. You can likely find her at arcades, museums, tech incubators, and almost anywhere creators are designing the future.

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