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Ready Player One is a science fiction novel by Ernest Cline. The book was published by Random House on August 16, 2011. The audiobook was narrated by Wil Wheaton. In 2012, the book received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association.

Warner Bros. purchased the rights to the film in June 2010, the day prior to the book being released.

Plot Summary

The year is 2045 and the world is in near-ruins. The Great Recession has taken its toll on the world's economy, and resources are scarce. The Internet and gaming culture has evolved into a creation known as OASIS, a massive multiplayer online simulation game created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow of Gregarious Simulation Systems (GSS), formerly known as Gregarious Games. Halliday, with no heirs or other living family members, dies suddenly and leaves a video will to those in OASIS and a book that was dubbed Anorak's Almanac, which purports to be a volume written by James Halliday's avatar Anorak in OASIS. The video says that whoever can collect three keys (Copper, Jade, and Crystal) that are hidden throughout the universe of OASIS and pass through the matching gates will receive his fortune and controlling stock in GSS. This becomes known as the Hunt and people immediately begin the search for Halliday's Easter Egg. Those searching for the Egg are referred to as "gunters," a truncation of "egg hunters." Gunters devote an enormous amount of time to studying 1980s pop culture, the decade Halliday grew up in and was perpetually obsessed with, in the hope it will assist them with locating and solving the puzzles involved with the Egg.


  • Wade Owen Watts/Parzival - The main character and narrator of the story; Wade lives in the stacks, mega-complexes of trailers stacked on top of each other, surrounding Oklahoma City. He is the first OASIS avatar to place his name on the Scoreboard, and goes on to win the Easter Egg Hunt.
  • Helen Harris/Aech - Wade's best friend in the OASIS, and an arena combatant in the OASIS. Helen uses a male avatar inside the OASIS, which is not revealed until the end of the Egg Hunt. She lives in a recreational vehicle (RV) and goes from place to place.
  • Samantha Evelyn Cook/Art3mis - A gunter blogger and friend of Parzival's, Art3mis located the Copper Key first but did not acquire it until after Parzival gave her help. She lives in Canada and has a large birthmark on the left side of her face.
  • Toshiro Yoshiaki/Daito and Akihide Karatsu/Shoto — Japanese gunters who work as a team in their quest for the egg, they have a generally tense, sometimes-friendly relationship with Wade, Aech, and Art3mis. The two see each other as brothers, even though they have never met each other.
  • James Donovan Halliday/Anorak — Co-creator of the OASIS, who left his entire fortune up for grabs when he died. He is based on the personalities of Howard Hughes and Richard Garriott.
  • Ogden Morrow/Great and Powerful Og — Co-creator of the OASIS and best friend of James Halliday. He is among the few in the world who is rich and can afford luxuries that most people cannot. Despite this, he is humble and respects his deceased friend's game and the hunt for the egg. He married his high school sweetheart, Karen Underwood, who later died in an accident.

Pop Culture References In The Novel

Games referenced in the book

  • Adventure including Warren Robinett's Easter egg.
  • Akalabeth
  • Action comics 
  • Mad Better or Verse
  • Asteroids
  • Astrosmash
  • Battlezone
  • Bedlam
  • Berzerk
  • BurgerTime
  • Centipede
  • Combat
  • Contra
  • Defender
  • Dig Dug
  • Donkey Kong
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • E.T.
  • Golden Axe
  • Heavy Barrel
  • Ikari Warriors
  • Joust
  • Kaboom!
  • Knack 2
  • Madness and the Minotaur
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • Pac-Man
  • Pitfall
  • Pyramid
  • Q*bert
  • Quake
  • Raaka-tu
  • Smash TV
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Space Invaders
  • Starmaster
  • Star Raiders
  • Star Wars
  • Street Fighter
  • Swordquest, including the prizes for Earthworld, Fireworld, Waterworld, and Airworld
  • Robotron: 2084
  • Time Pilot
  • Tron: Deadly Discs
  • World of Warcraft
  • Yars' Revenge
  • Zaxxon
  • Zork I II III

Games played in the simulation

Computers and video game consoles referenced in the simulation

  • Apple I and II
  • Atari 2600
  • Atari 400 and 800
  • ColecoVision
  • Commodore 64
  • IMSAI 8080
  • Intellivision
  • TI-84 Calculator
  • Sinclair ZX80
  • TRS 80
  • TI-99/4
  • All Xbox and PlayStation consoles

References on the book cover

  • The yellow key is an element of Adventure
  • The "c" is similar to Pac-Man

Movies referenced in the simulation

Music referenced in the simulation

Anime and tokusatsu referenced in the simulation

TV Show references in the novel

Literature references in the simulation

Easter Egg Hunt

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 will 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.

Film adaptation

Main article: Ready Player One (film)

External links