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Steven Spielberg’s new movie Ready Player One was one of the hot topics at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. People lined up hundreds of meters to get a seat for the world premiere of the Metaverse blockbuster. However, the reason for the festival buzz is not the quality of this decent action fun flick but sentiment. 

Mister Spielberg himself joined a cheering crowd in Austin’s Paramount cinema. Writer Ernest Cline talked about the production in a fireside chat the day after, explaining his affinity for Spielberg, video games and Sci-Fi („Sci Fi explains tech from a human perspective“).

Yes, Ready Player One is definitely a SXSW highlight, and I bet it will be successful at the box office and beloved amongst many fans. Why? Because of the appreciation from Hollywood for video games. It feels good that the great Steven Spielberg pays tribute to the medium. The Ready Player One VR experience they showcased was a blockbuster in itself, with fans and professionals queuing Berghain style.   

Ernest Cline wrote a book that everyone knows who is working in the games industry. The novel is an endless sequence of video game references and shows Cline’s deep understanding of nerd/pop/mainstream culture. The film is the most recent addition to a row of cultural products like Netflix’ hit show Stranger Things. What we get is a warm feeling of familiarity. A campfire for gamers, tabletop fans and Amblin enthusiasts.

That, of all things Steven Spielberg is adapting the novel, shows that the time is ripe for video game movies to become finally acknowledged, again, somehow. Because SXSW is a festival for tech and pop culture, it’s the perfect place for kicking off Ready Player One and that’s worth a celebration. I only hope the movie will live up to this.