Ready Player One
Anorak’s Invitation.
“Dead Man’s Party.”
“So the guy who created Adventure, a man named Warren Robinett, decided to hide his name inside the game itself. He hid a key in one of the game’s labyrinths. If you found this key, a small pixel-sized gray dot, you could use it to enter a secret room where Robinett had hidden his name.” On the TV, Halliday guides his square protagonist into the game’s secret room, where the words CREATED BY WARREN ROBINETT appear in the center of the screen.
Three hidden keys open three secret gates Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits And those with the skill to survive these straits Will reach The End where the prize awaits
“the Scoreboard.”
The Depperts lived in the bedroom adjacent to hers, and the Millers occupied the large master bedroom at the end of the hall. There
booted up my emulator and selected Robotron: 2084, one of my all-time
If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me.
Family Ties, an ’80s
Wade Watts,
“Basically, kid, what this all means is that life is a lot tougher than it used to be, in the Good Old Days, back before you were born.
performed a mental ritual: Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One
a flashlight, an iron shortsword, a small bronze shield, and a suit of banded leather armor.
Parzival, after the knight of Arthurian legend who had found the Holy Grail.
Gregarious Simulation Systems
I began to walk my avatar down the hall, using a series of subtle hand motions to control its movements and actions. I could also use voice commands to move around, if my hands were otherwise occupied.
I wasn’t looking forward to leaving school. I didn’t have the money to attend college, not even one in the
Like his Cro-Magnon friends, Todd13 wore an expensive designer skin, probably purchased in some offworld mall.
In here, I was safe.
Hatchery, one of the more popular gunter message forums.
“Sixers” was the derogatory nickname gunters had given to employees of Innovative Online Industries. IOI (pronounced eye-oh-eye) was a global communications conglomerate and the world’s largest Internet service provider.
“Oology Division.” (“Oology” was originally defined as “the science of studying birds’ eggs,” but in recent years it had taken on a second meaning: the “science” of searching for Halliday’s Easter egg.) IOI’s
IOI believed that Halliday never properly monetized his creation, and they wanted to remedy that.
Sixers weren’t hard to spot, because they all looked identical.
Arty’s Missives, the blog of a female gunter named Art3mis
The “Dorky Girl Fantasies” trilogy (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful) and the “Dorky Boy Fantasies” trilogy (The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
Aech: Top o’ the morning, amigo. Parzival: Hola, compadre. Aech: What are you up to? Parzival: Just surfing the turf. You? Aech: Got the Basement online. Come and hang out before school, fool. Parzival: Sweet! I’ll be there in a sec.
circa the late 1980s.
A vintage RCA television stood in the center of the room, hooked up to a Betamax VCR, a LaserDisc player, and several vintage videogame consoles. Bookshelves lined the far wall, filled with role-playing game supplements and back issues of Dragon magazine.
“The Wild Boys” by Duran
Contra, Golden Axe, Heavy Barrel, Smash TV, and Ikari Warriors.
Fantastic Voyage.
The Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation was a big place.
NPCs (nonplayer characters)—
Rubik’s Cube.
“grail diary” after watching the third Indiana Jones film).
Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. The
Jobs and Wozniak or Lennon and McCartney. It
He programmed it in BASIC on a TRS-80 Color Computer he’d received the previous Christmas (though he’d asked his parents for the slightly more expensive Commodore 64).
He also had an extreme fixation on the 1980s, the decade during which he’d been a teenager.
I could almost always get it by using Guntorrent, a file-sharing program used by gunters around the world.
Douglas Adams. Kurt Vonnegut. Neal Stephenson. Richard K. Morgan. Stephen King. Orson Scott Card. Terry Pratchett. Terry Brooks. Bester, Bradbury, Haldeman, Heinlein, Tolkien, Vance, Gibson, Gaiman, Sterling, Moorcock, Scalzi, Zelazny.
WarGames, Ghostbusters, Real Genius, Better Off Dead, or Revenge of the Nerds,
Star Wars (original and prequel trilogies, in that order), Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Mad Max, Back to the Future, and Indiana Jones. (Halliday once said that he preferred to pretend the other Indiana Jones films, from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull onward, didn’t exist. I tended to agree.)
Cameron, Gilliam, Jackson, Fincher, Kubrick, Lucas, Spielberg, Del Toro, Tarantino. And, of course, Kevin Smith.
John Hughes
Monty Python.
The Greatest American Hero, Airwolf, The A-Team, Knight Rider, Misfits of Science, and The Muppet Show.
Land of the Lost, Thundarr the Barbarian, He-Man, Schoolhouse Rock!, G.I. Joe—I knew them all. Because knowing is half the battle.
H.R. Pufnstuf.
action. Godzilla, Gamera, Star Blazers, The Space Giants, and G-Force. Go, Speed Racer, Go.
From the Police to Journey to R.E.M. to the Clash.
They Might Be Giants discography in under two weeks. Devo took a little longer.
Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Pink Floyd.
I knew what it was to be a natural at something. To have a gift.
The Copper Key awaits explorers In a tomb filled with horrors But you have much to learn If you hope to earn A place among the high scorers
From the moment I saw the title, I was certain the second line of the Limerick was a reference to it.
I found a digital copy of the sixty-seven-year-old Tomb of Horrors module buried deep in an ancient FTP archive.
As I studied it, I began to develop a theory: Somewhere in the OASIS, Halliday had re-created the Tomb of Horrors, and he’d hidden the Copper Key inside it.
According to Gunterpedia (a gunter wiki), the planet Gygax was covered with re-creations of old D&D modules, but
I’d never seen any posts about the Tomb of Horrors on any gunter message boards. I
James Halliday had donated billions to fund the creation of the OASIS public school system here, as a way to demonstrate the huge potential of the OASIS as an educational tool.
The realizations continued to detonate in my brain like atomic bombs going off, one after another.
(These tiny creatures weren’t worth any experience points if you killed them. I’d checked.)
After all, I’d just made the biggest, most important discovery of my life.
As I stepped into the clearing, my heart felt like it was trying to beat its way out of my rib cage.
Heavy Metal or Dragon
I unclenched my jaw and cleared my mind, forcing myself not to think about where I was, who I was playing against, or what was at stake. I tried to imagine that I was back in the Basement, playing against Aech.
It was the last track from John Williams’s original Star Wars score, used in the scene where Princess Leia gives Luke and Han their medals (and Chewbacca, as you may recall, gets the shaft).
vintage Kenner Star Wars action figure (still in the blister pack).
I had spent a lot of time thinking about that. I daydreamed about it all the time. Aech and I had made absurd lists of things we would do and buy if we won the prize.
I was prompted to select one of the planet’s 256 transport terminals as my arrival point.
Footloose. Small, rural, and sparsely populated.
There was no hint that the stoic man in the brown leisure suit was an abusive alcoholic, that the smiling woman in the floral pantsuit was bipolar, or that the young boy in the faded Asteroids T-shirt would one day create an entirely new universe.
Combat, Space Invaders, Pitfall, Kaboom!, Star Raiders, The Empire Strikes Back, Starmaster, Yars’ Revenge, and E.T. Gunters
The entire gate began to glow, as if the metal had become superheated, and its double doors swung inward, revealing a field of stars. It appeared to be a portal into deep space.
“Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss.
WarGames had been one of Halliday’s all-time favorite movies.
It was like being forced to act the leading role in a play you’d watched many times but had never actually rehearsed.
But I was also dead on my feet, and in no condition for further puzzle-solving. I could barely keep my eyes open.
“A pleasant place for the world to hide from its problems while human civilization slowly collapses, primarily due to neglect.”
I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal. —Groucho Marx
Somehow, without my realizing it, my obsession with finding Halliday’s Easter egg was gradually being supplanted by my obsession with Art3mis.
Buckaroo Banzai,
the ’88 remix of New Order’s “Blue Monday,” with a lot of Star Wars droid sound samples mixed in.
“Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol.
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.
James Brown Is Dead” by L.A. Style.
remix of “Atomic” by Blondie.
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!
wondered (not for the first time) why I hadn’t painted the mirror black too, when I’d done the window.
‘A Million Miles Away,’ the Plimsouls, Everywhere at Once, 1983.”
“Change,” by John Waite. From the Vision Quest soundtrack. Geffen Records, 1985.
“No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.”
the Austrian rap star.
blasting “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel at full volume.
Why bother looking up the solution online? Why try to figure the problem out on your own when you could have someone else do your thinking for you?
“Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard, off their Hysteria album (Epic Records, 1987). I
Tennis for Two, invented by William Higinbotham in 1958.
Bryan Adams song blasting out of the speakers mounted on the carpeted walls.
A Robotron game was currently displaying its high-score list.
Toru Iwatani.
There was a spot in each maze, just above the starting position, where it was possible to “hide”
Kobayashi Maru? The Pepsi Challenge? Could the clue have been any more vague?
Blade Runner, where Harrison Ford’s character, Deckard, uses a similar voice-controlled scanner to analyze a photograph.
Tyrell Building,
John Woo movie. One of the ones starring Chow Yun Fat, like Hard Boiled or The Killer.
Black Tiger. Capcom, 1987.
legendary Canadian rock band Rush.
planet’s bleak gray surface, there were exactly 1,024 copies of Megadon,
was a 1974 Gibson Les Paul, the exact guitar used by Alex Lifeson during the 2112 tour.
Going outside is highly overrated. —Anorak’s Almanac, Chapter 17, Verse 32
IOI Employee #338645.
“Schoolhouse Rock!”
‘Three Is a Magic Number,’ music and lyrics by Bob Dorough,” Art3mis recited,
“It looks just like Rivendell,”
“Reindeer Flotilla Setec Astronomy.”
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC
It was like some otherworldly Woodstock.
Brave Raideen
‘Han will have that shield down,’ ” Aech quoted. “ ‘We’ve got to give him more time!’ ”
Q*Bert and Gorf.
“The game Tempest also appears briefly in the music video for the song ‘Subdivisions’ by Rush,”
Terry Gilliam.
It occurred to me then that for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS.