Facebook gives its Oculus employees a dystopian sci-fi book to get them excited about building the future

Anyone who starts a job at Facebook-owned virtual reality company Oculus is given a copy of Ernest Cline’s dystopian science fiction bestseller, “Ready Player One.” 

The book, published in 2011, takes place in 2044, when the world is a dismal place and people spend most of their social time inside a virtual world called Oasis.  

People who’ve read it see it as simultaneously scary and exciting that Facebook’s vision of VR is moulded by the book. 

Facebook execs have described a future where VR will let friends “sit together courtside” at an NBA game from their living room couch or be an escape for dying people in the hospital. Like Cline’s Oasis, they want the virtual world to be just as real as real life. Hopefully, though, the real world won’t be as worth escaping as his.  

“It’s incredibly flattering and humbling to know that the folks at Oculus cite my novel as a big influence,” Cline tells Business Insider. “Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, has invited me to their offices several times, to sign books and demo their hardware.” 

In an in-depth profile of Facebook’s VR ambitions, Luckey tells Bloomberg says that he’s not scared of getting beat by other VR companies because he “knows too much,” citing sci-fi books like “Ready Player One” and Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash.”

“Some companies are figuring out their long-term vision as they go in terms of where is this technology going to be in 10, 20, 30 years. But for a lot of the people here, we’ve all read science fiction,” he tells Bloomerberg’s Bryant Urstadt and Sarah Frier. “We all know what virtual reality is in sci-fi. Even though the product we have today is not the one that we want to have 10 or 20 years from now, everyone wants to get there. The goal is clear: It’s to make VR technology that’s as real as real life with none of the limitations.”

Here’s a video Oculus made the first time Cline visited its office:

You can read the rest of the Bloomberg story here and learn more about “Ready Player One” here.

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