- Author: Earnest Cline
- Publisher: Broadway Books
- Publication Date: June 5th, 2012
- Pages: 384
What if we lived in a world where we could be completely immersed in a simulated reality? Where we could work, go to school, trade, and play within a simulated reality from anywhere with internet? That is the reality we are posed with in Earnest Cline’s debut novel Ready Player One. In Cline’s world, most of the world’s population prefers to engage in an online simulated reality called the OASIS rather than the real world. We meet our protagonist, a young man named Wade Watts. In the OASIS Wade is known as Parzival. In reality, Wade is living in a beat up trailer with his Aunt, and wants nothing more than to escape his reality. Wade goes to school and lives his entire social life from his OASIS console.
Players experience the OASIS through eyewear (that seems similar to the Oculus Rift gear) and sensory gloves. With an internet connection, these items allow users to experience the OASIS in a three-dimensional immersive experience. Users can go to school, work and participate in online games in the OASIS.
The OASIS was created by a man named James Halliday. Originally created as a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) game, players have access to worlds upon worlds of space to explore. When the 80s fanatic Halliday passed on, he set up a system to alerted OASIS users to a contest he created within the OASIS, whoever could find and solve the three puzzles he had coded into the game would receive Halliday’s cherished “Easter Egg.” While no one knows exactly what the Easter Egg is, everyone wants the exclusive privilege (and monetary perks) of beating Halliday’s puzzle. Parzival is one of the many OASIS users who has dedicated all their free time to solving Halliday’s Easter Egg hunt. These players (called Gunters) operate both in groups and individually. When Parzival begins to solve the puzzle, he quickly learns that the highly powerful and corrupt group of players will do anything to reach Halliday’s Easter Egg first, allowing them unlimited access and control over the OASIS system.
Ready Player One features a wealth of 80s pop and nerd culture. From video games to music and movies, it’s all there. Ready Player One gives readers a true sense of the immersive quality of video games today, and what we could look forward to with technological advances in the future. With more and more immersive gear for gaming, players can become a part of the games they play in a way we haven’t truly experienced yet.
Through Parzival’s experiences, we see the importance of relationships outside of the physical realm, how bonds can be formed over emotional connections rather than labels and physical appearance. Within these massive cooperative and social game environments like the OASIS, the power of anonymity is truly shown — anyone can display and represent themselves in any way they choose. Players can show whatever aspects of their personally they wish while concealing the things they are most insecure about.
It becomes easy to loose yourself in Ready Player One. To easily forget that Parzival is sitting in a chair playing a video game rather than living within the virtual reality. As the real world consequences of Wade’s actions catch up with him, readers are shown the important yet delicate balance of the virtual world and reality.
As someone who has experienced the immersive and somewhat addictive quality of MMO gaming, Ready Player One is both relatable and refreshing. It shows the best aspects of MMO gaming while still stressing the importance of experiencing all of these joys and emotions within the real world. No matter how perfectly simulated a game may be, there is no true substitute for connections and accomplishments within the real world. Ready Player One reminds us that OASIS and anything like it will always be a simulation, not a replacement for our real lives.
Ready Player One is currently being adapted into a film to be directed by Steven Spielberg.