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Ready Player One: Gamer dystopia meets ’80s nostalgia

By Ben Todd
Posted on March 3, 2015 | Columns | Comments Off on Ready Player One: Gamer dystopia meets ’80s nostalgia

The novel Ready Player One takes place in the near future where the majority of the world has ignored global issues (global warming, food shortage and so on) and instead spends time on a gigantic, elaborate virtual reality game called the OASIS. The billionaire founder of the game dies, leaving his entire fortune to whomever can find the easter egg he left in his own game using riddles and challenges based on ’80s pop-culture references.

This book was an intense page-turner, complete with laughs, heart and best of all, a ton of references to pop culture in the last 30 years.

I took pride in every reference I understood and didn’t feel bad if I didn’t get some of them. Because we carry the Internet in our pockets, I could easily find out what the movie War Games was about. But even if I were sans-net, I still loved the vivid descriptions of characters and locations (during one scene in which characters were at a night club in the game – I totally geeked out).

But what good is a story without a strong cast of characters?

Ready Player One follows a pale-faced high-schooler, Wade, living in the slums of a future Columbus, Ohio. But in the virtual world, he lives through his avatar, Parzival, a low-level character in need of leveling-up experience.

This depiction of the virtual world versus the real world creates an interesting dynamic as the friends he makes online may not be everything their avatars show. Could an avatar be his colleague? Or just some overweight creeper living in a basement in California?

Let’s talk content, people. It all comes in the form of nostalgic references: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Contra, Schoolhouse Rock, Dungeons & Dragons, Highlander, and the list goes on. This book will make you want to read, watch and play all your favorite pastimes when you were a child.

The book even has a little bit of social commentary. As I said earlier, most of the world is playing in the OASIS, ignoring rising ocean levels, starvation and mushroom clouds. It’s an exaggeration of how problems don’t disappear if you neglect them. It’s close to what is happening today; we’re submerged in our devices and entertainment, so it’s easy to ignore the problems of the world.

Ready Player One is a quest worthy to read. Ten out of 10. And if you get the chance to read it, ring me up. I’ve been dying to chat with someone about it.

avatar Posted by Ben Todd on Mar 3rd, 2015 and filed under Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.  - This post has been viewed 5711 times.

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