Study Guide

Ready Player One Versions of Reality

By Ernest Cline

Versions of Reality

Prologue
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

[Halliday] was the videogame designer responsible for creating the OASIS, a massively multiplayer online game that had gradually evolved into the globally networked virtual reality most of humanity now used on a daily basis. (0.2)

The OASIS is pretty much Facebook meets Second Life, two things that are very addictive on their own. Together, they prove to be irresistible, blurring the lines between reality and virtual reality.

Chapter 2
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

I'd heard that if you accessed the simulation with a new state-of-the-art immersion rig, it was almost impossible to tell the OASIS from reality. (2.2)

State-of-the-art immersion rigs cost money. That means that even the rich people in this world want to escape it. It must be one big bummer of a place.

[OASIS] was much more than a game or an entertainment platform. (2.37)

It's a new way of life. People stay connected to it for the majority of a day sometimes. Does such a massive time investment make something "real"? If people are spending most of their time there, doesn't that make it almost more real than the real world?

Chapter 3
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

Logging into a chat room was a little like being in two places at once. (3.1)

Or three places at once. Wade is in the real world, in the OASIS, and in a chat room. This quote shows just how much Wade forgets the real world exists at times, which is a wee bit creepy if you ask Shmoop.

Chapter 4
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

A lot of OASIS users […] only used the OASIS for entertainment, business, shopping, and hanging out with their friends. (4.22)

The OASIS has replaced brick-and-mortal locations like malls, movie theaters, and coffee shops. This is a reality where not only can you stay home and shop, you can stay home and socialize. And you thought that in a world full of smart phones, people were glued to their screens now. Just wait until 2045.

Chapter 5
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

The OASIS [was] beautifully rendered in meticulous graphical detail, right down to bugs and blades of grass, wind and weather patterns. (5.27)

This insane level of detail shows how Halliday intended the OASIS to be a replacement for reality. These things have no effect on gameplay, though. Their only purpose is to add to the all-immersive atmosphere. They simply add to the illusion.

Chapter 7
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

I wasn't sure why they bothered. They could just as easily have watched the game via vidfeed. (7.44)

This is a strange statement by Wade, who doesn't understand why people take their avatars to virtual sporting games. Maybe for the same reason they virtually hug, dance, and watch movies together in chatrooms--all things Wade has Parzival do—because this is how their new reality operates. We mean, what else are they going to do?

Chapter 10
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

I forgot that my avatar was sitting in Halliday's bedroom and that, in reality, I was sitting in my hideout [...] entering commands on an imaginary keyboard. All the intervening layers slipped away, and I lost myself within the game. (10.38)

This explains how we, as readers, also forget sometimes that Wade is inside a game. It's so real to him, he forgets it himself. But note what he's saying here. He doesn't just forget what's real, he loses his self. So even though it's just a game, this is some serious existential business.

Chapter 19
Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival

I'd come to see my [OASIS] rig for what it was: an elaborate contraption for deceiving my senses, to allow me to live in a world that didn't exist. (19.50)

Wade says this but doesn't change his behavior one bit. In fact, he becomes more obsessed with the OASIS. Despite believing the whole thing to be a deception, he's in too deep to change anything. The OASIS is his real world now.

Chapter 38
James Halliday

"As terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness." (38.48)

This is an unusual statement from Halliday, whose reality was OASIS, and who never seemed to have found any sort of happiness in the real world at all. Halliday's actions lead us to believe that he would choose OASIS over "reality" any day.