Wade’s final class of the day is Latin, which he chose to take because Halliday had taken Latin. Wade finds it boring, and—through a glitch in the school software—he secretly reads Anorak’s Almanac during class. He has read every book and watched every film mentioned in the Almanac, alongside mastering all the TV shows, music, YouTube videos, comic books, and, of course, videogames. He is able to get all this research done because he has “no life whatsoever.”
Once again, the novel implies that there are perverse advantages to being a nerd with “no life.” Furthermore, the joy Wade finds in his intensive Halliday research questions what is meant by the word “life” in this context anyway. After all, what is more fulfilling than indulging in whatever brings meaning to your life?
Wade discovers the “first real clue” to the Easter egg hunt while studying the history of “pen-and-paper role-playing games.” He notices that some of the letters inside the Almanac have notches through them, and he is able to assemble these letters into a meaningful message. The message promises that the Copper Key is situated in “a tomb filled with horrors” and that anyone who wants a place on the Scoreboard has “much to learn.” Six months after Wade discovers the clue, a “loudmouth MIT freshman” announces that he’s discovered it too, and the clue soon comes to be known as “the Limerick.” However, since the Limerick’s discovery four years ago, the Copper Key has still not been found.
This passage suggests that while Wade may have the knowledge and skills to successfully complete the hunt, his lack of money, power, and fame may mean that other people get the credit for breakthroughs in the hunt while he remains in obscurity. On the other hand, the passage also implies that there may be advantages to Wade’s anonymity. Wade’s use of the phrase “loudmouth” indicates that it is unwise to be boastful about one’s breakthroughs.
Wade knows that there is an old Dungeons & Dragons supplement called Tomb of Horrors, a detailed map of a labyrinth filled with “undead monsters.” He identifies the parallels between D&D and the OASIS, and soon realizes that Halliday is the OASIS equivalent of a D&D dungeon master. Wade is convinced that Halliday has recreated the D&D Tomb of Horrors in the OASIS and hidden the Copper Key inside it, but can’t figure out where the Tomb is. It might be on the planet Gygax, which is named after one of the creators of D&D and is filled with D&D recreations. However, gunters have thoroughly searched the planet and found nothing. Then, in the middle of Latin class, Wade has a breakthrough.
Recall that in the beginning of the novel, Halliday wondered aloud if he had made the hunt too difficult. In this passage, it is clear why Halliday decided to make it such a challenge. There is a whole army of nerds and obsessives with comprehensive knowledge of all of Halliday’s interests. As a result, there needed to be an extra edge of difficulty in order to ensure that the hunt has only one “worthy” winner.