A river of words flowed between us.
Wade Owen Watts (born August 12, 2026) is the protagonist and narrator of Ernest Cline's novel, Ready Player One. He is a poor orphan from the "stacks" surrounding metropolitan Oklahoma City. Wade names his OASIS character Parzival after Percival, the Arthurian knight famous for his quest for the Holy Grail, and dedicates his life to finding James Halliday's Easter egg.
Wade was born to a teenage couple, two refugees who met in the stacks. His father, who goes unnamed, was shot to death for a loaf of bread when Parzival was 12 years of age. He was allegedly shot and killed while looting a grocery store during a power outage.
His mother, Loretta, held two full-time positions within the OASIS. She worked as a telemarketer by day, and as a virtual escort by night. It is explained by Wade, that Loretta used the OASIS to babysit him during these work hours; he would play interactive games and learn fundamental skills within the virtual world, beginning his infatuation with technology at a young age.
When Wade was around 14 years old, Loretta died due to her drug addiction. She "shot a bad batch of something into her arm," and Wade found her, listening to music on a MP3 player. After her death, he is forced to live with his aunt Alice, her often abusive boyfriends, and others who rent rooms in his aunt's double-wide trailer. Wade states that she doesn't actually take care of him; the only reason his aunt agreed to take him in was to receive additional food vouchers. He spends very little time in her trailer; he only sleeps and eats there when he must. Most of Wade's waking hours are spent in his secret hideout.
After Wade completed Halliday's Hunt, he became one of the richest people in the world and also gained abilities of Anorak in OASIS world (that included unlimited hit points and cyberpotence).
- Main article: Halliday's Easter Egg Hunt
After the announcement of James Halliday's Easter Egg Hunt, Wade is one of millions of people all over the world who eschew "normal" life to become full-time gunters (short for "Egg Hunters"), OASIS users who are obsessed with learning everything about James Halliday and his history to find the easter egg and earn his fortune. The Egg Hunt consists of locating three keys placed in different places throughout the many worlds of the OASIS to unlock three matching gates. After locating all three keys and gates, one must be tested for their worthiness of Halliday's fortune. Only then will one reach The End, where their prize awaits.
As indicated by Anorak's Almanac, knowledge of 1980's pop culture was critical to locating the keys scattered throughout the OASIS. Wade, among many others, immersed himself in countless television shows, video games, science fiction novels, comic books, and more. Over the years, Wade amassed a mental and digital collection of thousands of items relevant to the Egg Hunt. This included digital versions of coin operated video games such as Galaga, Defender, Asteroids, Robotron: 2084, sitcoms like Family Ties, comics including complete editions of The Amazing Spider-Man, The X-Men, Green Lantern, and much more.
Over the course of five years, Wade and millions of other OASIS users comb countless worlds of the OASIS simulation for any lead to where the Copper Key might be. Their only leads were the original poem given in the Almanac, and The Limerick discerned from marked entries in the Almanac.
During the course of the Halliday's Easter Egg Hunt, IOI attempted a blackmail and assassination attempt, by planting explosives in his aunt's stack in a fashion to make it appear like a drug lab exploded.
In an attempt to remain without detection, Wade Watts assumed the alias of Bryce Lynch, a 22-year old male with an immaculate credit rating and a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. He was able to hack the IOI database and download nearly ten zettabytes of information relevant to The Hunt onto a flash drive. He also configured the forcefield over Castle Anorak (which had been barricaded by the sixers) to fall at a certain time, and then battled it out with the Sixers. As soon as he was about to enter the gate, the Sixers activated the Cataclyst, killing everyone, but Wade had gotten an extra life from a Pac-Man Easter Egg placed in an arcade by Halliday. He played Tempest and won with the help of Aech, Art3mis, and Shoto. He then played through Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and entered Halliday's study. He entered KIRA first, but that didn't work. He then tried LEUCOSIA, which worked. A simulation of Halliday told him that he had received all of the money and he split it with Shoto, Aech, and Art3mis. He also got special powers, and the power to shut the OASIS down. He then logged out and met Art3mis for real. They shared a kiss before the book ended.
A river of words flowed between us.