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ready player one

Reality Shift in Ready Player One

The narrative in Ready Player One takes place in two main spaces: reality and OASIS. Throughout the novel, the division between these spaces gets more complex. Wade’s time in the virtual space far exceeds his time in real space. Upon the reader’s entry into the story, Wade’s virtual life supplants his real life. For him, reality is only useful to maintain a functioning body that can access OASIS.

As the narrative progresses, implications from the virtual world crosses through the real world. The sixers’ attempt to murder wade ends up killing many real people. Wade’s plot to infiltrate the sixers at the end of the novel takes the concept of an epic win and makes it happen in reality. At the end of the book, Wade decides he wants to spend his time in the real world. In this way, the narritive functions like a coming of age story in the context of virtual culture.

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Reality Shift in Ready Player One

  1. The crossover into the real world from the virtual is a major theme within the text of the novel. The fact that Wade’s family gets killed as well as Soto in real life goes to show that even if you immerse yourself in a fictional almost real world that the real world is the over whelming reality that everyone faces. I don’t know where the saying comes from exactly but “You can run but you can’t hide” is adequate in explaining the world inside and out of the computer. The Universe of OASIS is a place you can move around fairly hidden but in the real world there are only so many places you can go before you are found. Aech’s character had the best scenario as to how to survive. He/she moved around in her motorized Home to avoid being found. At the end when Parzival goes out to Og’s maze to see Art3mis for the first time I think you are right in the way it shows an almost coming of age for them. It also gives way to a belief that people can function in the real world as well as the virtual. Moderation and appreciation of both aspects of living is a way of life that can be healthier than the full emergence into the virtual world.

    Posted by wjcasey | June 24, 2013, 11:07 am
    • To WJCASEY:
      The book certainly displays a paranoia about hiding and concealing identity (i.e. protecting the crossover between the two worlds). In the narrative this is made into a life or death situation. It has the same steaks as a video game plot. These stakes are also combined with fame, an ambition that McGonigal frequently pronounced to be a problematic in Reality is Broken. I agree with her, and I think the book fetishizes that aspect to exploit the readers cravings of this ambition. Having said that, Wade’s humble origins and specific means to fame help the hope of the epic win find its way to the people in a complex way. In the end, the biggest epic win is not the money, but rather the love for another in reality. I agree with your take and your conclusion, but I’d like also suggest that Wade’s transformation came through balance, but was far from moderate. I wonder if there is something to the difference between moderation and the more dramatic counterbalance represented by Wade’s epic win?

      Posted by chasecon | June 25, 2013, 10:38 am
  2. Do you suppose that the book is trying to prove that real life is better than virtual reality? In my opinion it obviously is, but others would disagree. I think what you said about coming of age is correct. When one thinks video games one thinks children or immaturity, most of the time. When the characters decide to live more in the real world, Cline could be hinting that adults should not play games as much but rather do more productive things. However this does not mean completely refraining from the use of video games as a way to blow off steam or entertainment. I think video games awaken a childlike emotion which is essential to living happy.

    Posted by sccrdude540 | June 25, 2013, 12:21 am
    • To SCCRDUDE540:
      Yea, I think it has a lot to do with valuing reality, but I also think it shows how valuable video games are in helping Wade come to that realization. I know I said coming of age, but perhaps I should have phrased it as self actualization. I think this book is great as a coming of age novel too, but is perhaps more valuable as a coming of self, which does not limit itself to young adults. In this sense, Wade represents someone who had reality at his throat. By the end of the novel, he has it in his hands. Perhaps his own hands were responsible for both sides. On the one side, there is dormant agency, agency that has been stifled by circumstance. On the other, there is the potential of individual agency to alter reality for the better, to have the world in your hands. This victory gives hope that this kind of change is possible, even when everything weighing against you. I especially agree with your concluding thought on how revitalizing the inner child can help one on this journey.

      Posted by chasecon | June 25, 2013, 11:04 am

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