The next day, Aech clears the First Gate, and on Monday Wade returns to school. The reinvigoration of the hunt means that half of the students and teachers are absent. I-r0k posts on the gunter message boards announcing that Wade and Aech are students on Ludus. Before long, two other avatars named Daito and Shoto clear the First Gate within minutes of one another. Wade realizes that the Jade Key clue is a quatrain, but he still cannot figure out what it means. After school ends on Friday, Wade sorts through his emails. He receives offers to sell his true identity and life story to various news channels, as well as endorsement offers from companies willing to pay in OASIS credits.
In this passage, readers are reminded of the very serious real-world consequences of the Easter egg hunt. Without even having won, Wade is offered deals that will instantly make him rich. The stakes are driven home by the fact that half of the students and even the teachers at Wade’s school do not attend on Monday, highlighting how pervasive interest in the hunt is among the young and old alike.
Wade writes back agreeing to all the endorsement offers on the condition that he can keep his true identity a secret. Wade calculates that the endorsement money will allow him to move out of the stacks and live in his own apartment for at least a year. Wade then sees that he has received 5,000 versions of the same email from IOI offering a “highly lucrative business proposition.” The email is signed: “Nolan Sorrento, Head of Operations.” Wade knows that IOI is trying to recruit him. His first instinct is to delete all their emails, but then decides that he will meet with them via chatlink.
The fact that IOI sends Wade 5,000 emails alludes to their desperation to recruit him. At the same time, it also demonstrates their overwhelming power and seemingly infinite resources. IOI seems eager to show off this power to Wade in order to persuade him to join them, yet—given Wade’s feelings about IOI—this seems unlikely to have a positive effect.
Wade researches Nolan Sorrento, learning that he has a PhD in Computer Science and that he used to be a game designer, which is obviously why he was recruited to work on the egg hunt for IOI. Wade sends him a chatlink invitation.
Nolan Sorrento’s trajectory is an example of a different route for the nerd/underdog archetype. Rather than remaining a loner, Sorrento joins IOI in order to wield the corporation’s power.