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Libraries in the world of VR

Apr 09,2018
Steven Spielberg’s latest film “Ready Player One” allows viewers to navigate the world of video games without actually playing them. In 2045, anyone can log on to virtual reality, transform into an avatar different from themselves and enjoy all kinds of experiences. Players can drive fancy cars and race through the city against King Kong or participate in a mythical battle. It’s possible for users to dance while floating in midair or transform into a huge robot, depending on the items they acquire.

What is also interesting is that there is also a library in the virtual reality world, though it is not a library with actual books. It is home to “Anorak’s Almanac,” a collection of information about the eccentric genius James Halliday. A professional librarian can guide one through various moments in Halliday’s life through hologram videos. Who would visit such a place when the virtual world is full of entertainment? Halliday left an enormous fortune to be awarded to whoever who solves his mystery, and all of this knowledge about him could be useful to those on the treasure hunt.

As the storehouses of knowledge and information, libraries stimulate our imaginations. “The Library of Babel,” a 1941 short story by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, features infinitely repeated hexagonal rooms. The infinitely expansive library has every single book with no repetition. In the 2014 movie “Interstellar,” there is a space inspired by the hexagonal rooms. Through the infinite stretch of bookshelves, the past and present are connected.

Is it possible to integrate all the knowledge in the world? Or is it actually necessary in the age of increased information? In “Ready Player One,” popular culture from the ’80s and ’90s is featured and described according to the tastes of Halliday and the players who admire him. If you ask why these pieces of knowledge are useful, I would suggest looking to the example of Ernest Cline. He has written a story based on how he has been immersed in games and movies since his teen and wrote the 2011 book that the movie is based on. The film adaptation rights were sold before it was published, and the novel became a best-seller. He is a geek who succeeded, indeed.


JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 6, Page 28

*The author is head of the mass culture team at the JoongAng Ilbo.

LEE HOO-NAM