Throughout Ready Player One, I kept wondering if Halliday’s gigantic fortune was the cause of the problem? Halliday and OG were said to have some of the largest sums of money in the novel’s world. If his hundreds of billions were to be pumped back into the world, could it have made a difference? Art3mis certainly thinks so. Wade is not so optimistic. It is hard to tell. Halliday was a genius, but he also was detached from the world. He did not care what happened to humanity nearly as much as he cared about the 1980s. Even if Halliday wasn’t the problem, the distribution of wealth, coupled with the irresponsible use of resources, monetary and natural ones, were the problem.
First off, I’d like to say I really enjoyed the book. It was a fast paced and fun. And that’s not even unrelated to my post. The novel incorporated a lot of the concepts we discussed throughout the course and put them into play as literature. In that sense, it took a different, but not less related approach to understanding and representing videogames. Where the other texts we read were theory based social science/ philosophical works, the novel lives as art. Ready Player One delivered an art as art. While the others were definitely more important to scholarship, Ready Player One helped keep gaming fun
I’m always intrigued by the implementation and struggle of finding / discovering Easter Eggs, as seen in the plot of Ready Player One, as I have found that the inclusion of “easter eggs” not only have been implemented in many different video games but also film and other forms of media. After looking more into the author of Ready Player One, I found that Ernest Cline ran a competition for his readers that challenged them to find an easter egg hidden within the print copies of his book. This would then lead the person to a series of three games, and in the end, the overall winner would receive a restored Delorean. Here’s a video of one of the games in this easter egg challenge, designed as an Atari 2600 Game specifically for this contest:
This book was a wild ride through a not so distant future that shows the value of safety as well as knowing your 1980’s movies. I thought it was an interesting book with the hardcore chase that starts with Wade just trying to have fun and allow himself to dream of a better place to the serious threat that the IOI posed. Like all things when money gets involved everything turns upside-down and his abilities become his curse. I like the dichotomy of the story with his biggest talent being the thing that has placed him in the most danger but I have to respect him for sticking to his guns and not selling out. In the end the hero is rewarded for his determination and even gets the girl but finally begins to accept reality. I guess life is easier to handle when you are rich and not living in stacked trailers.
I also really liked the 80’s references used throughout all of the events making me form a stronger connection to the book through my own history with these movies and games. I would have performed very well in most of the classic games but I will have to admit it has been a while since i have watched a few of the movies. I also liked the sense of flow that was given when the character was achieving the goals throughout the book similar to what McGonigal mentions giving him a sense of positive work.
I know I am way behind over here, but I took my time finishing Ready Player One and I wanted to share some of my final thoughts of the novel. I said this in my last post, but I think it bears repeating that the OASIS is completely different from any game in existence, even games like WoW or HalfLife. It doesn’t really fall into any category of game that we have discussed in this course. It doesn’t fall under of McGonigal’s categories for what games are or should be used for and it contradicts a good amount of what Nardi explained about WoW.
The OASIS is so huge and so well integrated into society in Ready Player One that there are no comparisons that can be drawn to it. The game’s currency has become one with the real world currency and instead of a temporary release, it has become an alternate reality. A whole different universe that not only has different places, but its own laws of physics.
My interpretation of the book as a whole, and the way it ended specifically, is that Cline did not write this book with any middle ground between being completely immersed in technology and never using it at all. What game me this impression was the last line of the book, when Wade says he had no urge to go into the OASIS. This is after he spends the majority of the book emerged in the OASIS, coming out only when he really had to.
In terms of real life technology, I find myself between those two extremes, and I think most people would agree with me. Although I spend the majority of my day in front of a computer (especially this summer at my internship) I enjoy my time away from it on a different level then my time in front of it. Additionally, the time I spend in front of the computer is generally used for either honing some skill of mine, or keeping up with world events of some sort. I rarely emerge myself so deep into a screen as people in Ready Player One due. My main issue with the way the way the dystopian future is described in the book is because of the willingness people had to isolate themselves from the world and give up things like travelling. Obviously there were other motivations behind giving up travelling, but I don’t think thats a past time most people would give up easily, especially with how popular it has become.
The counter argument to my issue with the book, is Anorak’s final words to Wade, which are of course don’t give up the real world, because its real. And I think thats the lesson to be learned from this book. Not just that the real world is real, but that the OASIS is part of the real world. And when they are used in conjunction, you can reach a certain peak that is impossible when you interact in either exclusively.
Reading about immersive virtual reality technologies such as the fictional OASIS seen in Ready Player One and the possible implementation of immersive technologies in the future (i.e. Google Glasses) had me thinking of the Oculus Rift. The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display that allows for affordable immersive gaming. Here’s a link to a youtube video describing and showing the use of the Oculus Rift:
I for one feel like devices like the Oculus Rift and Google Glasses will change not only the future of gaming, but the way we use technology in or daily lives (however it is important to consciously enact moderation and balance while incorporating these devices into our lives).
Throughout the novel it seems pretty clear cut that Aech is a white male.
Then, we discover he’s an African-American young women, traveling in an old RV after being kicked out of her mother’s house for being a lesbian. Huge surprise, of course. Aech and Wade had bonded so well and to me, the language Aech used as rather ‘masculine’. Now Wade had a triple-shock: his best friend was not only a woman, but an African-American woman, and a lesbian.
However, here is a quick excerpt from the novel (I’ve picked out the most intriguing parts of it) as Wade finally meets Aech:
“A heavyset African American girl sat in the RV’s driver seat, clutching the wheel tightly and staring ahead. She was about my age, with short, kinky hair and chocolate-colored skin that appeared iridescent in the soft glow of the dashboard indicators […] the numbers [of her Rush 2112 shirt] were warped around her large bosom.” (Cline 318)
“A wave of emotion washed over me. Shock gave way to a sense of betrayal. How could he – she – deceive me all these years?” (Cline 318)
“I let go of her and stepped back. ‘Christ, Aech,’ I said smiling, ‘I knew you were hiding something. But I never imagined…”
‘What?’ she said, a bit defensively. ‘You never imagined what?’
‘That the famous Aech, renowned gunter and the most feared and ruthless arena combatant in the entire OASIS, was, in reality, a….’
‘A fat black chick?’
[…] ‘There’s a reason I never told you, you know.’
‘And I’m sure it’s a good one […] But it really doesn’t matter.'” (Cline 319)
I found this dialogue and Wade’s reaction to be very unsettling. His description of her sounds like a rather ignorant description that would come out of the mouth of a poetic ethnocentric child. He then goes on to tell her that “it really doesn’t matter”, but what is he referring to? Her reason doesn’t matter or that her concealing her identity doesn’t matter? Either way, both are problematic.
Wade recounts Aech’s story saying “In Marie’s [Aech’s mom] opinion, the OASIS was the best thing that ever happened to both women and people of color. From the very start, Marie had used a white male avatar to conduct all of her online business, because of the marked difference it made in how she was treated and the opportunities she was given” (Cline 320). Wade then goes on to say that “We’d connected on a purely mental level. I understood her, trusted her, and loved her as a dear friend. None of that had changed, or could be changed by anything as inconsequential as her gender, or skin color, or sexual orientation” (Cline 321).
It was certainly very noble of Wade to decide to not be affected by Aech’s identity but that does not excuse the problems of these passages. Marie suggests that OASIS helps women and people of color but it helps by allowing them to assume the identity of a more socially acceptable identity. OASIS does nothing to help further the causes of social minorities; it only masks the problem.
Then in a very pointedly noble move, Cline refers to aspects of one’s social identity to be ‘inconsequential’. It would certainly be nice if they were! However it is clear that for Wade and for the OASIS society, identity was highly important – despite the fact that nobody’s identity on OASIS could be pure. People created their avatars and even in attempting to make them look like themselves, they are all only representations. There are varying degrees of identity change in the virtual world, but Wade felt especially betrayed by Aech upon first meeting her because of how drastic her identity change was. There was no hint of him feeling betrayed by Art3mis upon finding out she had a large birthmark on her face that she did not put on her avatar. Cline and Wade make it perfectly clear that gender, race, and sexual orientation are not as inconsequential as an absent birthmark.
It seems that Cline sought to make a positive comment on race, gender, and sexual orientation but the language of the above passages subvert all of his attempts. I found this entire section to be disturbing and to be rather thoughtless in its message. I am not suggesting Wade should not have been surprised to find out Aech’s identity, but he did not have nearly the same reaction to Art3mis’ birthmark or Daisho not being brothers. None of this would be as problematic if Cline had not attempted to dissuade the problems by recounting Marie’s story about OASIS as savior of minorities or Wade’s sudden notion of the inconsequence of identity.
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.
I have always enjoyed epics and I can safely say that adventure video games give me the experience of being in an epic myself. Ready player one also reads like an epic- with many characters hell bent on finding an egg, clues leading to nowhere, friends and enemies being made at each turn and most importantly a teenager becoming a hero- forever immortalised as the discoverer of the egg. Like the holy grail- the egg is something which promises many things and should be seen as a symbolic item. In this novel the egg mean more than just money- it showed Wade who is friends are and that there are more important things in life than just money or a virtual reality, it showed him that life , real life is also important.
I first noticed the allusion to the King Arthur’s legend when Wade introduced his avatar as Parcival. Parcival was the knight who found the holy grail and in this novel Wade finds the egg. This allusion to the holy grail makes sense because in the arthurian legend, it stamds for eternal life and immortality which connects well the the theme of immortality present in the novel.
This book takes the addiction of on-line Multi-Player Games to a whole new level. It seems that the future that is shown in Ready Player One is far off and it is almost a fantasy. The world and people’s lives can become this, but it isn’t that far off. The technology is not far away and there are actually glasses that can make it easier to interact to on-line resources. These types of devices are available all over the planet more and more but the technology has become more interactive with just the glasses. Augmented reality glasses are being released by Google and seem to be the next step in progression.
They are similar to the visor glasses that are described that Wade uses to use his Avatar Parzival, though more advanced and are are able to scan his retinal patterns. His body suit conforms to him so that he can feel what is going on in the virtual world, a unit can give him scents that he would normally smell, and use of treadmills and other technology helps him to move as if he is in the virtual world. All this is coming down the pipeline possibly in our lifetimes. The world of tomorrow is coming sooner than we think and it may look as gloomy as Cline envisions it. Will we have an increase in the amount of anti-social hermits that are plugged in almost their whole lives? One good thing is that we will have even more fun toys to play with to enhance the games we play.