Study Guide

Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline

Ready Player One Introduction

Videogames have told wonderful stories for a long time, even before they had flashy graphics, Hollywood voice acting, and online multiplayer interfaces. The earliest games didn't have any graphics, simply lines of text that encouraged players to create the graphics on their own, using their imaginations. Reading text, using your imagination, hmm. This reminds us of something. Oh, that's right—books.

Ready Player One is a book that brings two different media—videogames and literature—together into a crazy 3D explosion (in your mind!). Plus, it bridges the generation gap between the 1980s and now, putting all of those pictures of your parents (or yourself) in neon leg-warmers, side-ponytails, and way too many accessories into context. But get this: Ready Player One not only gets its inspiration from the games of the '80s, but the movies and music, too. This is a book with a retro, synthesized soundtrack and a breakneck adventure plot straight out of your favorite classic movies, like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Ladyhawke. Okay, they might not all be classics, but they're beloved by many, especially by super-geek author Ernest Cline.

Published in 2011, Ready Player One is Ernest Cline's love letter to the eighties—the decade he grew up in—and all its celebrities, culture, and awesome gaming action. It follows Wade Watts, a teenager in 2045, and his quest for fame and fortune. He's hooked on the OASIS, an uber-realistic MMO game that has taken the world by storm. Its deceased creator, James Halliday, has put his entire estate up as the prize for a contest that requires fast reflexes, a great memory for film quotes, and an encyclopedic knowledge of 1980s trivia. Are you game? If you're a full-fledged geek or even just a geek at heart, what are you waiting for? Pick up Ready Player One today and start the adventure. The OASIS is waiting.

What is Ready Player One About and Why Should I Care?

If you grew up in the 1980s, have a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man keychain, Tron on VHS and LaserDisc, and listen to Oingo Boingo while playing Pitfall! on your Atari2600, well, why are you still reading this? You should be reading Ready Player One right now.

Okay, now that they're gone, we'll talk to the rest of you—those who either didn't grow up in the eighties or don't have fond memories of it. See, neon pop culture isn't all there is to this book, which is a fast-paced, page-turning, sci-fi adventure. The fun references are just technicolor sprinkles on the high-tech adventure cupcake. Mmm, cupcakes. Oops. Where were we?

Oh, that's right. Pop culture references. Whether or not you've heard of the books, movies, music, and games, Ernest Cline loves them for a reason. He's got some pretty good taste, and you might want to take a look at a few of these hidden gems yourself. Who knows? You might discover some new favorites.

Ready Player One Resources

Websites

Are You Ready for This?
Ernest (or Ernie, to his fans) Cline's website and blog has all the info you need on upcoming appearances, international publications, and all the '80s minutiae you can stomach.

Fan's Favorite
RP1 even has its own fan blog, named after Halliday's digital fortress. We hope the admin of this fansite isn't as crazy or reclusive as Halliday was.

Movies & TV

Pre-Production
Although there's not much here (yet), you can be sure that IMDb will update its page as soon as information becomes available faster than you can say "Easter egg."

From Page to Screen
The Book Page blog speculates on details about the RP1 movie. Good news for fans: the author wrote the screenplay himself. Possible bad news: it's been given to someone else for a re-write.

Articles and Interviews

It's a Demon. It's a Dragon. No, it's Black Tiger!
In this interview, Cline reveals that his favorite video game is Black Tiger, which features prominently in the book. What's your favorite game in Ready Player One?

Name-Dropping
Find out the behind-the-scenes inspiration for RP1 from Cline himself on John Scalzi's blog. It's like DVD commentary for a book!

Video

Everyone is Playing (and so can you!)
Even the book's trailer is packed with references. Can you ID them all? Our shout-outs page can help.

A Dreamer of Dreams
Halliday was born when Cline asked himself the question, "What if Willy Wonka was a videogame designer?"

Audio

Audio Nerdgasm
Geeks rejoice at hearing nerd idol Wil Wheaton read the Ready Player One audiobook. Take a listen.

Mood Music
Want some music to read by? Cline has you covered with a comprehensive soundtrack of every song mentioned in the book, plus bonus tracks!

Images

Game within a Game Within a Book
This incredible poster helps you visualize something that's easy to forget in the book: Wade's playing an avatar, who sometimes plays games within the game.

We Heart 8-Bit
Ready Player One has a variety of cover images. This pixelated style is one of our favorites.

Stacked
Get an eyeful of the grimy Stacks on the U.S. paperback edition cover.