Yehan Wang

University of York

The Ready Player One screenplay by Steven Spielberg (2018) encouraged many to think about the ethical problems associated with game culture. In the “Ready Player One” world set in 2045, people want to live in a virtual world to escape from reality, however, they experience a status of alienation and slavery under digital control. Hence, the issue of the exploitation of the labour of players within digital capitalism becomes an implicit theme in the film.

‘Digital labour’ is a concept rooted in the Italian autonomist, workerist/Operaismo worker’s rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the ‘wages for housework’ movement founded by Selma James in 1972 (Wolf, 2014). The idea of the ‘digital economy’ is defined as the ‘moment where work has shifted from the factory to the social realm’ (Fuchs & Sevignani 2013).

Based on these theories, the research suggests that the ideology of digital capitalism is consistent with the concepts contained within the “Ready Player One” film. The movie also reproduces the sense of alienation that human beings experience through technology when the process of digital addiction ensues and this further exposes the labour exploitation of users via digital capitalism.

Yehan Wang is a doctoral candidate in the School of Sociology at the University of York, UK. Her research focuses on the interaction between politics, entertainment industry and resistance. Her PhD thesis titled “Beyond state control: the Chinese popular culture in the context of online entertainment media”. Beyond her education experience, she was working as a journalist in HBIS media centre in China.