Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Ready Player One Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline grew up on a farm in Ohio that he claims resembled the Star Wars planet Tatooine. As a child, he was obsessed with Star Wars and other science fiction books and movies. As he grew older, he also developed an obsession with 1980s pop culture. In his early 20s he participated in poetry slams and wrote several film scripts. One script, Fanboys, was turned into a 2009 film, but Cline was disappointed with the results. He regretted that his original script had been changed so much and hoped to write a film based on his own novel in order to have more control over the final product. The result was Ready Player One, Cline’s debut novel, which sold at auction in 2010. The book became a bestseller upon its publication and was turned into a 2018 movie directed by Steven Spielberg, with a script written by Cline. Cline published a second science fiction novel, Armada, in 2015, and is working on a sequel to Ready Player One. He lives in Austin with his wife, fellow writer and slam poet Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.
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Historical Context of Ready Player One

Although the novel is set in the year 2045, it draws on real history up until the point at which it transitions into the future. The novel refers to the economic boom of the 1980s and ‘90s, which was followed by the Great Recession beginning in 2008. Another important historical element of the novel is the development in computer technology and artificial intelligence from the ‘80s to the present (and beyond). Wade notes that the first computer Halliday owned was slow and awkward to use; for example, it needed to be turned off and on again anytime a videogame cartridge was inserted. The novel imagines the computer technology of the present—including virtual reality headsets and haptic gloves—improved to the point that it offers an even more comfortable, immersive, and realistic experience. Alongside technological developments, the novel also imagines that current problems plaguing the world—including climate change, decreasing fossil fuel reserves, world hunger, unchecked corporate power, social inequality, and extreme poverty—become worse to the point of catastrophe by the year 2045.

Other Books Related to Ready Player One

Ready Player One is one of a large number of books that imagine an apocalyptic, dystopian landscape—often created by climate change, a global energy crisis, and widespread poverty—and which feature a young hero who possesses intelligence and courage beyond their years. These books range from Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower to Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Ready Player One falls within the LitRPG subgenre of science fiction, meaning it features the conventions of massive multiplayer online role-playing games (such as the OASIS itself) and includes games as a substantial part of the plot. In this sense, it is similar other LitRPGs such as Conor Kostick’s The Avatar Chronicles series. Like Ready Player One, Daniel Suarez’s novel Daemon also tells the story of the death of a famous computer game designer and its aftermath.
Key Facts about Ready Player One
  • Full Title: Ready Player One
  • When Written: 2000-10
  • Where Written: Austin, Texas
  • When Published: 2011
  • Literary Period: 21st Century American Science Fiction
  • Genre: LitRPG Science Fiction
  • Setting: Outskirts of Oklahoma City; Columbus, Ohio; the OASIS, in the year 2045
  • Climax: When Wade successfully obtains Hallidays’ Easter egg
  • Antagonist: The Sixers/Nolan Sorrento
  • Point of View: First person, from the perspective of Wade Watts

Extra Credit for Ready Player One

Art imitating life. Like Wade in the novel, Ernest Cline drives a vintage 1980s DeLorean sports car in real life.

A puzzle inside a puzzle. After the publication of Ready Player One, Cline announced that the novel contained its own Easter egg, and whoever could complete a series of trials similar to those in the book would win their own DeLorean. The winner was announced in 2012.