Ready Player One
Ready Player One is a science fiction novel by Ernest Cline published in 2011. The story takes place in 2044, where most people live, work, and play, not in the real world, but in a virtual world called the OASIS. They use virtual reality gear and haptic suits to experience the virtual world with life-like interfacing. The creator of the OASIS, an extremely wealthy eccentric video game designer, just died and left his billions to the first person who could find a series of Easter eggs that he left in the simulation. In order to help find it, the egg hunters (gunters), study everything about the OASIS creator, which is mostly 80s pop culture. The story follows a poor teen named Wade who is looking for the Easter egg, and the friends and competitors he meets along the way.
I don't own this book, but have listened to an audio book recording.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The inclusion of so much geek talk regarding old video games, comic books, movies, television shows, and music was very fun and nostalgic.
- The virtual reality world is highly detailed, and all of the awesome things of which it's capable are talked about in depth.
- Parzival, Art3mis, and Aech are each interesting, loveable, and very human.
- I had a lot of problems with the OASIS economic model. How could IOI afford to dump tons of money into their online army, year after year, without any progress at all? Also, since the Tomb of Horrors (and many other areas) resets its immense wealth every night, once it became common knowledge (which it did), the entire economy of the OASIS would collapse. Case in point, Wade's rags to riches story. Even if he hadn't got endorsement deals, he could have just kept looting the Tomb each night for millions.
- The fact that the OASIS is the only game in town requires a large suspension of disbelief. Why wouldn't other companies make their own versions? World of Warcraft may be huge, but there are hundreds of other MMOs.
- Sorrento (and IOI in general) is a bit too evil, almost to a cartoonish level. In general, corporations aren't evil because they're led by a villain who curls his mustache and cackles, but because mandatory greed and unaccountability keep them evil.
- I didn't care much for Shoto, who I found to be more of a plot-device than a real character.
- Wade explains that he wrote his own 2600 Atari game as a kid, but this hard to believe. 2600 programming is notoriously difficult and requires intimate knowledge of the machine.
- Wade seems like too much of an expert at too many things considering his age. He knows a few thousand pieces of media (games, movies, comics, television series, etc.) practically by heart, even though each one would take dozens of days to become so well versed.
- A lot of the pop-culture was explained imperfectly. For example, the dragons in Adventure are said to be fire-breathing, but they never actually breathe fire in the game. For a book that is all about the nuances of popular culture, it's a mortal sin to get them wrong.
- The OASIS uses a permadeath model, which, while fitting for a 1980s developer, is not really feasible for modern MMO.
- Wade's plan to infiltrate IOI was far too flawless and simple.