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File:Ready player one 67.png

Ready Player One is a 2011 novel by Ernest Cline about a teen named Wade Watts, who spends all his time on OASIS, a virtual reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game that has replaced the Internet itself as a primary means of recreation and communication. He plays to escape his boring, harrowing life in the trailer park he calls home. Wade's life is consumed by the quest to find the hidden fortune of the man who created OASIS, James Halliday. The only clues to how to get at it were hidden away in his personal writings, and the only way to decode them is... 80's pop culture.

What follows is a story about life, adventure, and a love letter to the 1980s wrapped up in a science fiction plot that's a blast to read.

Tropes used in Ready Player One include:
  • Abusive Parents: Aech's mother abandoned her when she found out that she was a lesbian.
  • Allegedly Free Game: OASIS is free to play, but doing just about anything costs money. IOI is treated as villainous because they want to, among other things, charge a subscription fee.
  • Alliterative Name: Wade Watts. He suspects that his father intentionally invoked the trope because he was a comic book fan. Another example is Helen Harris.
  • Asshole Victim: Wade's aunt and her boyfriend.
  • Bash Brothers: Shoto and Daito.
  • Battle Royale With Cheese:The final showdown between the Sixers and the gunters.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the planets have Latin names. Incipio (Latin for 'I begin') is the starting planet. Ludus (Latin for school) is the planet where Wade and Aech go to school.
  • Black Best Friend: Aech turns out to be one.
  • Bland-Name Product: Thankfully averted in most cases; the book quotes portions of movies like War Games and Monty Python verbatim, references countless bits of 80's culture by name and impeccable detail.
  • Butch Lesbian: Aetch, who behaves so similarly to a boy her age that no one seems to doubt her gender, even her best friend.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: IOI seeks to win the contest by any means possible such as cheating, bribing participants, and even going as far as to kill off participants in the real world. In the end, they still manage to lose when Wade outwits them and still wins the contest.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The quarter and the Cataclyst.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Nolan Sorrento, the head of the egg-hunting division of IOI.
  • Crapsack World: The real world, once the oil ran out. Everyone spends time in the OASIS instead.
  • Digital Avatar: They do about 99% of the interaction.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him: Aech uses a male avatar in the OASIS. Near the end of the story, she's revealed as a Sassy Black Woman in the real world.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Wade had to go to a lot in order to make it happen, though.
  • Easter Egg: What Halliday describes his prize as, even though it's technically a Treasure Hunt. There is a real example, though. On the arcade planet, you can go to a certain arcade and play a perfect game of Pac-Man, you win a quarter which gives you an extra life.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: James Halliday easily qualifies as this. Some parentheticals note that he may have had a form of Asperger's Syndrome.
  • The Eighties: A large focus of the plot is almost every single trivial detail about Eighties pop culture.
  • Evil, Inc.: IOI. They're looking for Halliday's egg as well, and if they find it they will introduce monthly fees for the currently free to play OASIS, plaster ads on every visible surface and basically ruin the only thing that still makes life bearable.
  • Expy: The author compares Halliday to a Bill Gates-esque figure. Meanwhile, Halliday's longtime friend Ogden Morrow is a thinly veiled Steve Wozniak.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Wade Owen Watts spells out W.O.W.
  • Game Within a Game: OASIS has recreations of all the old video games. Some parts of the hunt could be considered a game within a game within a game.
  • GIRL: Aech. Inverted.
  • Heroic BSOD: Wade suffers this as Art3mis breaks up with him, he loses touch with Aech, and worst of all, the head of IOI clears the second gate and finds the third key before him.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Wade finds the first key on the planet of the school he attends. It was an hour's walk from Aech's school for years.
  • Hikikomori:
    • It has completely increased in big numbers, especially in Japan, thanks to the OASIS being popular.
    • Wade is certainly one himself, especially during his time in Columbus.
  • In-Game TV: Wade, Art3mis and many other avatars run their own TV channels.
  • Kick the Dog: Sorrento and IOI, in the beginning, come off as a greedy, but well-organized, professional egg-hunter company. Then they try to kill Wade in the real world... and it only gets worse.
  • Killed Off for Real: Wade's aunt and her boyfriend, as well as Daito in the real world.
  • Locked Door: The gates.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Art3mis breaks up with Wade because their romance is getting in the way of the hunt.
  • Love Triangle: Halliday, Ogden and Kira
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Sixers of IOI are named because the first number of their employee numbers begins with a six and are six digits long. Also a subtle reference to a six switch Atari 2600 console.
    • Wade's handle "Parzival" references the Arthurian knight who quests for the Holy Grail.
    • Art3mis's handle references the Greek god of the hunt.
  • The Metaverse: The OASIS.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Solving the puzzles requires not only knowing every detail about 80's pop culture, but also being able to follow Halliday's train of thought. This is why it took five years for the first key to be found.
  • One-Letter Name: A variation - "Aech" is pronounced "H" (probably because OASIS wouldn't allow an actual One-Letter Name). Aech also calls Parzival "Z".
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The Easter Egg requires Encyclopedic knowledge of 80s pop culture.
  • Parental Abandonment: Wade's real parents died when he was young. Even his single mother, who did seem to care for him, didn't have time to do much beyond set him up with OASIS.
  • Person as Verb: In universe, "pulling a Pendergast" means revealing a clue or piece of Halliday trivia in public.
  • Player Versus Player: Usually Gunters vs. Sixers en masse in story
  • Post Cyber Punk: The setting. If IOI wins, it will quickly become classic Cyberpunk.
  • Reference Overdosed: This novel is also nicknamed "The Holy Grail of Pop Culture" because of the huge amount of pop culture stuff within the game.
  • Rule of Three:
    • There are three keys and three gates With the last gate requiring 3 keys from three different users, and consisting of three parts, because three is a magic number.
    • IOI progressively offers Wade three deals: become the head hunter and get a $50 million bonus upon finding the egg, $5 million in exchange for his information on the first gate, or take the second offer and not die in real life.
    • The book is divided into three sections, referred to as levels.
  • Scoring Points: The scoreboard tracks everyone making progress in the hunt.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Why Wade declines IOI's offer to work for them after he clears the first gate.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Pretty much IOI's strategy.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them: Both Ogden and Halliday's avatars can do pretty much whatever they want, including snoop on private chat rooms. An unusual benevolent example, as Ogden is using his powers to keep an eye on the High Five so he can help them out if they need it.
  • Serious Business:
    • The OASIS video game is serious business, since it's ensnared almost the entire world's population and is apparently the world's most valuable resource.
    • Halliday's Easter Egg hunt is Serious Business, because it comes with a cash prize of a quarter of a trillion dollars.
    • 80s nostalgia is serious business because Halliday has ingrained it so thoroughly into OASIS culture and the multi-billion dollar Easter Egg hunt.
  • Shout-Out: Half the point of the book.
    • The vehicle Parzival uses to go to Ogden Morrow's party. It's a Delorean with an onboard computer named KITT, complete with flashing light and it has Ghostbusters decals plastered on the side.
    • The Beta Capsule appears as a Infinity+1 Sword, turning its user into Ultraman for three minutes.
    • The mechs at the end include Mechagodzilla, Gundams, Voltron, Evangelions, and tons of other classic giant robots.
    • Almost all of the planets are shout-outs themselves. Gygax is a Dungeons and Dragons world, Azeroth exists as does Norrath.
    • Wade has two space vessels on his asteroid base: an X-Wing and a Firefly-class ship.
    • At one point, the elections in OASIS are held and Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton are re-elected as President and Vice-President. This becomes doubly funny when you realize that the audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton himself.
    • Sorrento's employee number 655321 is Alex's prison number from the film version of A Clockwork Orange.
    • Wade's alias Bryce Lynch is a young hacker character from Max Headroom. While living under this alias, he uses Max Headroom as a virtual servant.
    • Wade's IOI employee aliases are Sam Lowery and Harry Tuttle, from Brazil, who also fight a massive bureaucracy.
  • Threefer Token Minority: Aech is black, female, and homosexual.
  • The Three Trials: The three keys and three gates.
  • Total Party Kill: The Cataclyst wipes out every player in the entire sector of space when active. This includes the entire party of heroes and the entire army of Sixers. The game isn't over for only two reasons: the Sixers hid a backup contingent just outside the sector, and Wade had the extra life he unknowingly obtained in his perfect game of Pac-Man.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Not totally fitting, but at one point, Wade has to go through all of War Games as Matthew Broderick's character, saying all the lines. It's later mentioned that the OASIS creators expand this to other movies and TV shows.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Opens in 2044. A lot of the conditions in the world are said to be a result of either the Great Recession or a worldwide fuel shortage.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Wade is virtually penniless. He has to scrounge in a junk heap to find the right equipment to run his console and has no money to actually go anywhere or do anything in the OASIS until he finds the first key. He's up against a ruthless, billion-dollar corporation.
  • Up to Eleven: At one point, Wade plays a perfect game of Pac-Man, a feat only ever done by six people in the real world.

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