Ready Player One

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Ready Player One
Ready Player One cover.jpg
First edition cover
Author Ernest Cline
Country United States
Language English
Genre Hard science fiction, dystopian
Publisher Random House
Publication date
August 16, 2011
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback), e-book, audiobook
Pages 385
ISBN 978-0307887436

Ready Player One is a 2011 science fiction novel, and the debut novel of American author Ernest Cline. The story, set in a dystopian 2044, follows protagonist Wade Watts on his search for an Easter egg in a virtual reality game, the discovery of which will lead him to inherit a fortune in a world wrecked by an energy crisis.

Cline sold the rights to publish the novel in June 2010, in a bidding war to the Crown Publishing Group (a division of Random House).[1] The book was published on August 16, 2011.[2] An audiobook was released the same day; it was narrated by Wil Wheaton, who was mentioned briefly in one of the chapters.[3][4]Ch. 20 In 2012, the book received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association[5] and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.[6]

A film adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg, is currently in production, and slated to premiere on March 30, 2018.


In the year 2044, the world has been gripped by an energy crisis from the depletion of fossil fuels and the consequences of global warming, causing widespread social problems and economic stagnation. To escape the decline their world is facing, people turn to the OASIS,[a] a virtual reality simulator accessible by players using visors and haptic technology such as gloves. It functions both as an MMORPG and as a virtual society, with its currency being the most stable in the real world. It was created by James Halliday who, when he died, had announced in his will to the public that he had left an Easter egg inside OASIS, and the first person to find it would inherit his entire fortune and the corporation. The story follows the adventures of Wade Watts, starting about five years after the announcement, when he discovers one of the three keys pointing to the treasure.


Teenager Wade Watts lives with his aunt in the "stacks", a poverty-stricken district constructed of trailer homes piled on top of each other. He spends all his spare time as a "gunter" ("egg hunter"), logging on to the OASIS as an avatar under the moniker Parzival, reading Halliday's journal Anorak's Almanac, and researching details of the 1980s pop culture (such as classic video games and movies) that Halliday loved. One day, he realizes during a fit of boredom that the first key is located on the same virtual world as his own online high school, in a re-creation of the Dungeons & Dragons module Tomb of Horrors. He meets Art3mis, a famous female gunter and blogger that he has a crush on. (She named her avatar after Artemis, but that spelling was already taken.) Art3mis had been exploring the place, but Wade is able to solve the puzzle first by defeating its adversary Acererak in the video game Joust. He is awarded the Copper Key, and Parzival appears on the "Scoreboard", attracting the entire world's attention.

Parzival completes the First Gate puzzles by playing through the Dungeons of Daggorath video game, and then role-playing Matthew Broderick's character in the film WarGames. Art3mis clears the gate shortly afterwards, as does Wade's friend Aech. His fame enables him to make a living by endorsing virtual products. Nolan Sorrento, head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a multinational corporation bent on taking control of the OASIS and monetizing it, tries to recruit Wade to assist them in finding the egg, only to be swiftly refused. In retaliation, Sorrento blows up the stacks where Wade lives, under the guise of a meth lab explosion; Wade is not home and barely escapes death, but his aunt and neighbors are killed.

Wade lies low, taking up the persona Bryce Lynch and a residence near IOI headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. He briefly considers an alliance with Aech, Art3mis, and two Japanese gunters, Daito and Shoto, who have also figured out the puzzles. Instead, he and Art3mis progress in a friendship, but when he asks her out, Art3mis declines. IOI operatives (called Sixers) attempt to assassinate the two at the birthday party of OASIS co-founder Ogden Morrow, but are unsuccessful. Five months after the finding of the Copper Key, no one has made progress on the next clue, the Jade Key, and Wade finds himself more isolated from both Art3mis and Aech.

When Art3mis finds the Jade Key, Parzival scrambles to planet Archaide, where he plays a perfect game of Pac-Man, receiving only a quarter as a prize. The coin becomes stuck in his inventory, and he is unable to analyze it. Aech provides a hint leading him to the planet Frobozz where he solves the text adventure game Zork. Sorrento, who had tracked Art3mis and Aech using a premium locator item, quickly establishes a base there to farm their company's avatars with keys, and soon unlocks the Second Gate and acquires the Crystal Key.

Parzival unlocks the Second Gate, a Voight-Kampff machine in the Blade Runner universe, and completes the arcade game Black Tiger as a character from the first-person shooter perspective. Using his knowledge of Rush, he acquires the Crystal Key, and after playing "Discovery", the third track off of their album 2112, discovers a clue that Sorrento overlooked regarding the conditions to unlock the final gate. As he messages Art3mis, Aech, and Shoto with his solution, Sorrento publicizes the location of the Third Gate at Castle Anorak, but he has put an impenetrable force field around it.

In an elaborate plan of infiltration, Wade manipulates his assumed identity to be arrested and placed in indentured servitude in IOI's tech support department. While inside IOI, he uses black market passwords and security exploits to hack into IOI's intranet: he acquires a wealth of information, including footage of Daito's murder by Sixers who infiltrated Daito's real-life apartment and threw him out of the building's 43rd floor, killing him. The information also includes the attempt on his own life, as well as plans to kill Shoto and Art3mis in real life. After escaping the corporation, he shares his information with his friends, and publicizes a gathering of avatars to storm the castle. They are interrupted by Ogden Morrow, who offers them a safe haven at his home in Oregon. Wade meets the real-life Aech and Ogden, but not Art3mis and Shoto, who are already hooked into Ogden's immersion pods.

The day of the battle, Wade uses his planted hack to bring down the barricade, and a massive fight among avatars ensues. Parzival uses Ultraman to fight against Sorrento's Mechagodzilla Kiryu. After defeating Kiryu using Ultraman's numerous abilities, Parzival and friends unlock the gate, at which point the Sixers use an artifact called the Cataclyst to destroy the castle and all avatars over a large area. Parzival survives because having the Pac-Man quarter granted him an extra life. As he enters the Third Gate, he announces that if he wins he will share his fortune with his three friends. With Sorrento and his Sixers on his heels, Parzival plays Tempest, role-plays King Arthur and various characters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and finally retrieves the Easter egg in Adventure.

As well as Halliday's vast fortune and a controlling share of the corporation that runs OASIS, Wade's victory directly grants him control of the virtual world, including a secret Big Red Button that would destroy OASIS once and for all if Wade ever feels it necessary. He wipes out the Sixers' avatars and resurrects those of his friends. Meanwhile in the real world, Sorrento is arrested for the murders. Parzival remarks sadly that Sorrento can afford to hire the best lawyers, but Aech replies, "But now so can we".

In Oregon, Wade logs off OASIS and leaves the immersion pod. He and Art3mis finally meet in person and rekindle their relationship with a kiss.


  • Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival: the viewpoint character, an orphan from the "stacks" surrounding metropolitan Oklahoma City. Wade names his OASIS character Parzival after the Arthurian knight involved in the quest for the holy grail, and dedicates his life to finding James Halliday's Easter egg. He is 18 years old when he finds the Copper Key in the prologue of the book. His username at the virtual high school he attends is Wade3.[b] Wade's character was based on a mix of Cline as well as his geek friends.[7]
  • James Donovan Halliday a.k.a. Anorak: creator of OASIS. A big fan of 1980s culture, he announces in his will his plans to leave his entire fortune to whomever can find his Easter egg that he had hidden in OASIS. His character was initially inspired by Willy Wonka who Cline described as a "rich eccentric holding a fantastic contest". Cline used the personalities of Howard Hughes and Richard Garriott, and placed Halliday's birth year around the same as his own so that his pop culture interests would coincide with Cline's "and the other middle-aged uber geeks I know".[8][7]
  • Aech (pronounced like the letter H):Ch. 33 Wade's best friend, fellow gunter, and rival in the quest to find the egg. Aech's specialty is in PvP and first-person shooter games, and is one of the top combatants on OASIS. Although Aech's avatar is an athletic Caucasian heterosexual male,p. 38-39 Aech is played by an African-American lesbian named Helen Harris, who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and is about the same age as Wade.Ch. 33 Aech is based partly on Cline's friend Harry Knowles as well as himself and other geeks, both men and women.[7]
  • Art3mis: a famous female gunter and blogger. Wade has a huge cyber-crush on her, which is complicated by their competition in search of the egg.p. 35 She chose her avatar's name from the Greek goddess of the hunt.[c] Like other characters, Cline based Art3mis on himself and other geeks, both men and women.[7] Her real name is Samantha Evelyn Cook from Vancouver, British Columbia and she has a port-wine stain on her face.Ch. 30
  • Ogden "Og" Morrow: Co-creator of the OASIS and best friend of James Halliday. They founded the video game company Gregarious Games, where he would handle the business operations, and which would later become Gregarious Simulation Systems (GSS), the company that launched OASIS.p. 54-56 His appearance and personality are described as being "a cross between Albert Einstein and Santa Claus." Concerned that people were using it to escape reality, he quits GSS and works on educational software with his wife Kira until her death. His relationship with Halliday deteriorated, and the two men remained estranged until before Halliday's death, when he is entrusted with ensuring that the hunt goes smoothly and without cheating.Ch. 32-33 Ogden lives in Oregon and owns a set of advanced OASIS consoles and immersion rigs, and is able to monitor everyone in the OASIS, even in private chat rooms.Ch. 12, 32-33 He rarely appears in public, and only shows up on the OASIS once a year on his birthday, where he assumes the avatar of the Great and Powerful Og. Ogden's character and relationship with Halliday was inspired by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, with Morrow being more like Jobs as a "charismatic tech leader".[8][9]
  • Daito: one of the two Japanese gunters who rise to the top of the scoreboard early on in the hunt, working in a team with "brother", Shoto. The pair have a generally tense, but not unfriendly relationship with Aech, and Art3mis, They are closer to Parzival, and work together on quests unrelated to the hunt. They are based on otaku: Japanese geeks who enjoy movies and anime, as well as hikikomori: people who live as recluses inside their family's homes.[7] Daito's real name is revealed to be Toshiro Yoshiaki after he is killed by the IOI.
  • Shoto: the second and younger of the two Japanese gunters working as a team in their quest for the egg.p. 129 Shoto's real name is Akihide Karatsu.p. 292 Following the death of his partner, Shoto collaborates with Art3mis, Aech and Wade to finish the hunt.
  • Nolan Sorrento: the head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (IOI), the multinational corporation that serves as an Internet service provider for most of the world, and that plans to take over and monetize the OASIS. Sorrento is head of IOI's Oology division, which is dedicated to searching for Halliday's Easter egg.p. 33 His avatar name is IOI-655321, after his employee number.Ch. 14, 16 IOI employees in the division are nicknamed Sixers, after their six-digit employee numbers that also begin with the number 6.p. 33 Cline said that he named Sorrento after Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, and said, "Not that I think Nolan is a bad guy, or anything. It’s meant as a subtle tribute!" [10]


Ready Player One was a New York Times bestseller.[11][12][13] Among those praising the book were Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe, The A.V. Club,, io9, and Boing Boing. USA Today wrote that the novel "undoubtedly qualifies Cline as the hottest geek on the planet right now."[14] NPR said that the book was "ridiculously fun and large-hearted". Cline "takes a far-out premise and engages the reader instantly" with a "deeply felt narrative [that] makes it almost impossible to stop turning the pages."[15] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that "The book gets off to a witty start" but noted that it lacks at least one dimension, stating that gaming had overwhelmed everything else about this book.[16] Rebecca Serle of The Huffington Post described the book as "the grown-up's Harry Potter" and that it "has it all – nostalgia, trivia, adventure, romance, heart and, dare I say it, some very fascinating social commentary."[17]

The book has been translated into over 20 languages.[18]

In an interview with Fortune, Cline said that his book had inspired designers at companies such as Oculus VR which recommended the book for their new employees.[19][20] Oculus has also invited Cline several times to sign books and demo hardware.[21]

Spin-offs and sequels

Short story

Lacero, a fan-fiction story by Andy Weir, was published in the 2016 edition of Ready Player One. It follows the story of Nolan Sorrento and functions as a precursor to the main novel, and is considered canonical to the Ready Player One fictional universe.[22][23][24]

RPO sequel

In 2015, in an interview with Den of Geek, screenwriter Zak Penn reported that Cline was working on a sequel to the novel.[25] In December 2017 Cline himself confirmed he is writing a sequel[26].

In other media

Easter egg hunt promotion

Ten months after the first edition release, Cline revealed on his blog that Ready Player One itself contained an elaborately hidden Easter egg. This clue would form the first part of a series of staged video gaming tests, similar to the plot of the novel. Cline also revealed that the competition's grand prize would be a DeLorean.[27] The game Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale by Austin-based developer Portalarium was featured in one part of the contest.[28][29] The final stage of the contest was announced on August 1, 2012, and was to set a world record on one of several classic arcade or Atari 2600 games. This was completed on August 9, 2012 by Craig Queen, who set a new world record in Joust. He was awarded the DeLorean on the TV show X-Play.[30]

Film adaptation

The film rights were purchased by Warner Bros. on the same day Cline finalized his publishing deal with Random House, one year prior to the novel's publication. Dan Farah brought the project into the studio and is producing it with Donald De Line. Cline adapted his novel into a screenplay.[31] Over the years, Eric Eason and Zak Penn assisted Cline with rewrites.[32]

Steven Spielberg signed on to direct in March 2015.[33] Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger of Amblin Partners also joined Deline and Farah as producers. Warner Bros. initially announced a release date of December 15, 2017.[34] On February 9, 2016, the release date was pushed back to March 30, 2018, to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[35] The movie began production in the spring of 2016 and was filmed in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

On September 1, 2015, TheWrap reported that Olivia Cooke, Elle Fanning and Lola Kirke were on the shortlist for the role of Art3mis, along with two unnamed actresses, and Justin Kroll tweeted that Nick Robinson was an early favorite of Spielberg for Parzival.[36][37] On September 11, 2015, it was reported that Cooke was cast as Samantha.[38] On January 6, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Ben Mendelsohn was in talks to play Nolan Sorrento.[39] In early 2016, the movie launched a worldwide casting call for the roles of Wade Watts, Daito, and Shoto in the project.[40] On February 24, 2016, Deadline reported that Tye Sheridan was cast as Wade in the film.[41] On March 17, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Simon Pegg was in negotiations for the role of OASIS co-creator Ogden Morrow, better known by his OASIS avatar: the Great and Powerful Og.[42] April 13, 2016, Variety reported that Mark Rylance has joined the cast as OASIS creator James Donovan Halliday.[43] On June 1, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that T.J. Miller has joined the cast. Originally, rumors had started to spread that he would be taking on the role of an annoying online Internet troll named i-R0k, but he will instead be taking on an unnamed role. A description of the character has been revealed as "a bounty hunter with an amusing personality."[44] On June 5, 2016, Variety reported that Japanese singer-actor Win Morisaki is cast as Toshiro Yoshiaki, also known as Daito.[45]

On June 9, 2016, Variety stated that Spielberg's regular collaborator John Williams is planning to compose the film's score.[46] However, scheduling conflicts with another Spielberg film, The Post, led to Spielberg signing Alan Silvestri for the score.

Screenwriter Zak Penn tweeted on July 1, 2016 that the first week of filming was completed.[47]

See also


  1. ^ OASIS is an acronym for Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulationp. 48
  2. ^ In OASIS, the students are required to use their real name when attending school, plus a number for name duplicates. For example, Wade Watts goes by Wade3, and there is another student named Todd13. p. 29-30
  3. ^ Art3mis chose the leet spelling as her username because the original spelling was already taken.p. 93

Works cited

  • ^ "Ch.." and "p." is shortened form for chapter and page, and refers to chapters and pages in the Ready Player One novel.


  1. ^ [1] Archived November 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Ready Player One by Ernest Cline". Random House Publishers. 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ McWeeny, Drew (August 16, 2011). "Review: 'Ready Player One' is the geek book event of the year: Ernie Cline's first novel offers nostalgia, the future, and a gamer's dream". HitFix. 
  4. ^ "You want to accept Anorak's Invitation. Trust me. -". August 15, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  5. ^ "YALSA's Alex Awards". American Library Association. 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ Libertarian Futurist Society. "PROMETHEUS AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED". Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Sims, Tony (June 22, 2011). "A Few Minutes With Fanboys Writer Ernest Cline on Ready Player One". Wired. 
  8. ^ a b "How Lord British Inspired Anorak | Ernie's Blog". October 19, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ Bilton, Nick. "One on One: Ernest Cline, Author of 'Ready Player One'". Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  10. ^ "The Geek Genius Behind Ready Player One: An Interview With Ernest Cline". September 23, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction: Sunday, September 11th 2011". September 11, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2017 – via 
  12. ^ "Paperback Trade Fiction Books - Best Sellers - July 1, 2012 - The New York Times". Retrieved March 17, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Paperback Trade Fiction Books - Best Sellers - December 25, 2016 - The New York Times". Retrieved March 17, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. August 19, 2011. 
  15. ^ Schaub, Michael (August 22, 2011). "'Player One': A Winning, Geeked-Out Page-Turner". NPR. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  16. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 14, 2011). "'Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline – Review". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ Author, Rebecca Serle; Mine, When You Were; Falling, The Edge of; Love, Famous in (August 17, 2011). "'Ready Player One': An Interview with Author Ernest Cline". Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Ready Player One". Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  19. ^ "How Ready Player One author Ernest Cline inspired Oculus VR". Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  20. ^ Brogan, Jacob (July 14, 2015). ""Imagining the Future Is Dangerous"". Retrieved February 14, 2017 – via Slate. 
  21. ^ "Facebook gives its Oculus employees a dystopian sci-fi book to get them excited about building the future". Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Lacero". Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  23. ^ Brock Wilbur (March 28, 2016). "How 'The Martian' Impacted the 'Ready Player One' Movie". INverse. 
  24. ^ The Author of The Martian Wrote Ready Player One Fan Fiction, and Now It's Canon
  25. ^ Sequel citations:
    • "Ernie Cline Reportedly Writing Ready Player One Sequel". January 16, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2017. 
    • "Ready Player One Is Getting A Sequel". January 16, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2017. 
    • "READY PLAYER ONE Sequel Rumored To Be In The Works - Nerdist". January 25, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2017. 
  26. ^ Ernie Cline Penning A Sequel Novel To READY PLAYER ONE
  27. ^ "Three Hidden Keys Open Three Secret Gates | Ernie's Blog". June 5, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Contest Winners Level Up In The Ready Player One Easter Egg Hunt". Giant Freakin Robot. 
  29. ^ "For Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One, success is measured in DeLoreans and geeked-out fans". Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  30. ^ "Ready Player —One Author Ernest Cline Gives Away a DeLorean on X-Play". August 30, 2012. Archived from the original on January 14, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  31. ^ Fleming, Michael (June 18, 2010). "Warner Bros and De Line Pictures Win Book Auction For 'Ready Player One'". Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  32. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 13, 2010). "Eason to rewrite 'Player' script". Variety. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  33. ^ Busch, Anita (March 25, 2015). "Steven Spielberg To Direct Sci-Fi Cult Favorite 'Ready Player One'; Back At Warner Bros". Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  34. ^ Zumberge, Marianne. "Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' Slated for 2017 Release". 
  35. ^ Lang, Brent (February 9, 2016). "Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' Pushed Back to Avoid 'Star Wars: Episode VIII'". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2016. 
  36. ^ Sneider, Jeff (September 1, 2015). "Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' Shortlist Includes Elle Fanning, Olivia Cooke, Lola Kirke (Exclusive)". The Wrap. 
  37. ^ "Justin Kroll on Twitter". Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  38. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 11, 2015). "Steven Spielberg Casts Olivia Cooke as Female Lead in 'Ready Player One'". Variety. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
  39. ^ Kit, Borys (January 6, 2016). "Ben Mendelsohn Eyed for Villain Role in Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' (Exclusive)". 
  40. ^ "Online Auditions for Lead Roles in Steven Spielberg Movie "Ready Player One"". January 19, 2016. 
  41. ^ Fleming, Jr, Mike (February 24, 2016). "Steven Spielberg Taps Tye Sheridan For Lead In 'Ready Player One' Based On Ernest Cline Novel". Deadline. 
  42. ^ Kit, Borys (March 17, 2016). "Simon Pegg in Talks to Join Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  43. ^ McNary, Dave (April 13, 2016). "Mark Rylance Joins Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One'". Variety. Retrieved June 9, 2016. 
  44. ^ Kit, Borys (June 1, 2016). "'Silicon Valley' Star T.J. Miller Joins Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' (Exclusive)". THe Hollywood Reporter. 
  45. ^ Variety Staff (June 5, 2016). "Japan's Win Morisaki Joins Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One'". Variety. 
  46. ^ Burlingame, Jon (June 9, 2016). "AFI Honoree John Williams Looks Back on Six Decades of Iconic Themes". Variety. Retrieved June 9, 2016. 
  47. ^ "First week of ReadyPlayerOne finished. Surreal". 

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