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Nerdist Book Club: READY PLAYER ONE, Part 2

Nerdist Book Club: READY PLAYER ONE, Part 2

Business is getting serious in the latest chapters of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. When we last talked, Wade/Parzival had just acquired the Copper Key. His name went to the top of the scoreboard, and his avatar has become known worldwide. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. We start to learn and experience the high stakes involved in the Easter egg hunt. Let’s get to it.

What happened
Last week’s discussion left on a cliffhanger. Another avatar was present at the Tomb of Horrors and because I read ahead, I almost spoiled who it was. Oops! As many of you probably guessed before the reveal, it’s Art3mis. Wade’s crush. What I really like and respect about their relationship is that they don’t hold the lies they both told in the beginning against each other. They respect that it was part of the hunt, and I suspect Aech would feel similarly. It will be interesting to see if the hunt remains a priority over their friendship as the quest continues.

And boy oh boy, do we see Wade’s extreme commitment to the hunt. He doesn’t waste any time basking in fame or glory after he figures out the clue. Sleep? Forget about it. He makes a beeline to the next location and is able to pass the First Gate. I admire his determination but am also concerned about how much time he’s poured into the hunt. He’s mentioned playing games for hours or entire weekends, but something about knowing an entire film line by line and action by action really drove home how obsessed he is. And he’s not alone. Other gunters get through the gate before the Sixers. I mean, WarGames is a fantastic film, but wow. Side note: I would enjoy this type of video game and end up becoming as obsessed as Wade but only because I wanted to be Princess Leia. At least he has a bigger goal in mind.


Wade finally sleeps and when he does, millions of messages pour in. Parzival is famous. Even though Art3mis and Aech quickly line up behind him on the scoreboard, he was first. He’s a celebrity and is offered interviews and endorsement deals. For someone who is as poor as Wade, I can only imagine what it would feel like to have access to piles of money.

Not all that glitters is gold though and the negative side of taking first place on the scoreboard soon becomes apparent. Wade is contacted repeatedly by the Head of Operations at IOI, Nolan Sorrento. IOI is like an amalgam of every big bad corporation you can imagine. When Wade’s avatar meets with them, we learn they have no qualms about cheating. Worse, they don’t view what they do as cheating. They will do anything it takes to win the hunt and get control of the OASIS and when bribing Wade doesn’t work, they turn to violence.

That moment when Wade calls Sorrento on what he thinks is a bluff and waits to hear the explosion in the Stacks read like a movie scene. The tension will undoubtedly play well whenever the adaptation happens. The meeting marked a turning point in the book. It’s no longer just a romp through the OASIS; it’s a race to stay alive. Even though this my second time reading the book, my heart was racing. Cline did a tremendous job of upping the stakes and changing directions.

Amid the Easter egg hunt action, Cline slipped in some world-building gems that add depth. It speaks volumes that no one blinks an eye at a bomb going off and destroying several homes. And once we’re out of the Stacks, we see a bleak picture of the United States. Wade gets on an armored bus described as a rolling fortress. The journey from Oklahoma City to Columbus, a mere 915 miles, takes several days because the roads are so wrecked. Columbus is a mecca–which makes this Ohio native and Columbus fan happy–but it’s a city designed around the OASIS. Kind of like a weird extension of the OASIS in the real world.

Pop culture references
References to films, Dungeons and Dragons, and video games were still peppered throughout the text but not quite as heavily as they were previously. It makes sense. The story is getting more serious, and while I expect the ’80s will still play a huge part in figuring out future clues and passing through the rest of the gates, Wade has things on his mind that weren’t there before. You know, like being hunted by an evil corporation.

I mean, this is Ready Player One so the scale is skewed. There were still several instances that me nerd out. Wade’s apartment in Columbus is on the forty-second floor which is likely a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

When Wade first introduces himself to Art3mis, he uses Sean Connery’s impeccable introduction from Highlander.

And if you need some epic tunes to play while you read the remainder of the post, try Basil Poledouris’s score for 1982’s Conan the Barbarian. This plays while Wade goes through the Dungeons of Daggorath game in Halliday’s room on his way to crossing the First Gate.

Favorite quotes
“Try playing on the left side.”

“Congratulations, you have opened the first gate.”

“Anyone smart enough to accomplish what they have should know better than to risk everything by talking to the vultures in the media.”

“This is much more than a videogame contest.”


Art by Kay Huang

Discussion questions
– Wade opens up to Art3mis soon after meeting her and gives her the tip about playing on the left. Would he have done the same if Aech showed up at the tomb?
– We know Wade has plenty of free time, but do you think it’s possible for him to learn and remember so much? Do you think he has any sort of special abilities (not eidetic memory but something like that)?
– Do you know any films well enough to step into a role and repeat all the dialogue and actions?
– Wade had to make a difficult decision by calling Sorrento’s bluff. Was it the right one? What would you have done in his shoes?
– Do you think Sorrento really believes IOI’s plans won’t drastically change the OASIS?

Bonus material
Look at this rad Art3mis cosplay by @EntropySylph! She debuted it at PAX East last weekend.


And ead to the comments section on Part 1 and read the post from Ken about participating in the Ready Player One Easter egg while it was active. A selection from his story: “I found the clue and participated in the hunt while it was active. I was the first to complete the second gate challenge and will forever hold that place of honor in RP1 lore. There was a sense of excitement while the contest was underway that is hard to explain. Regardless of when you discovered the gates, they were opened one month apart on the first of the month, when you discovered what the challenge was and could then attempt to complete it.”

Even though I’m not strongly attached to the ’80s–it was the decade of my childhood but I didn’t come to know many of the films, etc. until the 1990s–I find myself continuing to get swept up in Ready Player One. It takes effort to put the book down. The references are delightful, but I’m hooked on the adventure aspect. Parzival is now one hundred percent devoted to his quest and so are hundreds of other gunters. Ahhh!

Go to the comments and tell me what you’re thinking after reading the latest chapters. You can answer the discussion questions if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. Ask your own questions, share your favorite quotes, all the things! If you want to take the discussions outside the comment section, use this list to talk to your fellow readers on Twitter and use the #NerdistBookClub hashtag.

Transport back for Part 3 on Thursday, March 19. We’ll be discussing Levels 0017-0024.

Featured Image Powered by DeviantArt // Artist: Kay Huang

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  1. Santiago says:

    The cynic in me wonders where the government is in all of this. If things IRL are as bad as they seem, and this game has as much influence as the plot supposes, wouldn’t they take a more active role in regulating the game with internet quotas, taxes, etc? Or perhaps they would take a more active role in the hunt to ensure their interests are maintained? Personally, I can’t see any situation where the feds take a hands off approach to the game in general, and the hunt in specific. 

  2. unikers says:

    I really enjoy the world building. The juxtaposition of the world in the OASIS and reality (with its poverty, chaotic outer cities, rolling fortresses) are really effective. I can see why the people would prefer the simulation. Because Wade spends so much time in the OASIS, and we as readers get his POV of his adventures there, in a way the author has made the OASIS the more real and preferrable setting for us too. 
    Also as for one of the discussion questions, I think Wade has the capacity to remember all that stuff without needing special abilities. He’s like a little kid who’s watched a video repeatedly. As a child I recall watching a movie literally 23 times. I stopped counting after that, but my friends and I could recite the dialogue along with movie. I imagine someone with more investment in something would have an even greater capacity for recall.

  3. Cade Miller says:

    – Wade opens up to Art3mis soon after meeting her and gives her the tip about playing on the left. Would he have done the same if Aech showed up at the tomb?

    Wade does tell Aech to brush up on the Joust game, which means he is open to helping Aech the same way that he helped Art3mis; they seem to have a bit of a bro-mance which is strengthened through their love of 80s culture and the egg hunt, which results with them sharing knowledge of the material frequently. I’m not entirely sure if Wade would have told Aech about the “playing on the left” part; however, Aech and Wade did play Joust quite often (if I’m recalling correctly), so I think there’s a good chance that Aech would perhaps piece it together: knowing that the left side is Wade’s preferred side, etc.

    – We know Wade has plenty of free time, but do you think it’s possible for him to learn and remember so much? Do you think he has any sort of special abilities (not eidetic memory but something like that)?

    I think it’s perfectly possible. Just think of how much information we all learn about the games we play through the years (tricks, glitches, etc.); I still remember bits from games I played ten years ago, and I consider myself a moderate gamer. Not to say that Wade doesn’t have exceptional memory (which seems logical to say); although Wade and Art3mis piece together the puzzle, they do trail behind Wade for the better part of the story. I just think that Wade is extremely dedicated and has a strong passion for the material so he tends to pick up on things extremely quickly, often before his competitors.

     – Do you know any films well enough to step into a role and repeat all the dialogue and actions?

    I was pondering the same question the first time I read the War Games part. I really don’t think so. The only possible film would be Pineapple Express, although I would need the film playing in order to sync with it, and, even then, it would be a long-shot.

  4. sajison says:

    1) Wade opens up to Art3mis soon after meeting her and gives her the tip about playing on the left. Would he have done the same if Aech showed up at the tomb?

    I do not think he would have opened up to Aech the same way for a couple reasons. First, he has a big, big crush on her and the length guys will go for a girl are pretty far especially someone as respected as she is and not condescending towards him being a noob in terms of xp.  Second, his relationship with Aech has always had the backdrop of the hunt so it would seem to be to be more usual and/or comfortable keeping things to himself. Tho on the flip side, he did tell Aech to brush up on joust to that totally contradicts what i just said. :p
    2) We know Wade has plenty of free time, but do you think it’s possible for him to learn and remember so much? Do you think he has any sort of special abilities 
    I don’t think he has any special abilities because both Aech, Art3mis, and others were able to accomplish the same thing. I think it is more a function of the state of the world. It is a very dystopian place and it would be very easy for someone without wealth or options to spend their time in OASIS and become obsessed with its creator especially with what the hunt has to offer. I think it happens irl with celebs and musicians. 
    3) Do you know any films well enough to step into a role and repeat all the dialogue and actions?
    heck, i can’t even tell you what i said five minutes ago. 
    4) Wade had to make a difficult decision by calling Sorrento’s bluff. Was it the right one? What would you have done in his shoes?
     it was  an impossible decision due to the ramifications of creating a pay model for access. it would have totally disrupted his world view. i don’t know if i could have lived with the guilt but at the same time, IOI’s changes could have marked the beginning of the end for OASIS and a return to a more regular non-virtual life. And yes, I do believe sorrento bought the company line.

  5. As WarGames is my favourite all time movie I was pretty blown away by Chapter 11. That is exactly the sort of thing I would love to do if the Oasis is a reality. Immersive filmaoke! Awesome. Some of the references Cline makes do feel slightly crowbarred in or made too obvious, but some of them are just perfect.

  6. Doug B says:

    1. I don’t think so. I think our young Wade let his crush for Art3mis overpower his competitive drive…very understandable. 2. Special abilities?! He’s a geek! We’ve all got that special ability, to obsess over an interest until we can’t know anything more.3. Jaws. The Princess Bride. 4. It was the right decision for him. Wade greatly values the Oasis, it’s been his entire life. To have it industrialized would destroy it in Wade’s mind. In that position I would have done the same.5. Of course he knows it’ll change, but perhaps in Sorrento’s corporate mind those changes would make it better (for the shareholders, anyway!) Sorrento’s all about the profits, and he sees the Oasis as a tool for increasing them, unlike our Gunters who truly love what the Oasis gives them.

  7. Derek says:

    I am having a hard time putting the book down and have read ahead now. I liked Wade’s plan of playing on the left and I would think most people would prefer that side as that is normally the side you would play on in a one-player game. Kinda like fighting games. I knew he was in trouble when he responded to Nolan Bushnell’s, I mean Sorrento’s offer, but since I had half the book still in my hand, I didn’t think he would die. Not yet anyway. Personally, I might be able to pull off The Big Lebowski like Wade did with War Games. I might bet money on it, but I would have to go find a cash machine.

  8. Denton says:

    I didn’t get the chance to post in Part 1 last week so I am excited to post this week.  One thing that stood out to me in these chapters, aside from the action and pace quickening, was the comments Ogden Morrow made in his interview following Halliday’s death.  One of the reporters asked him if he would join the search for Halliday’s Egg.  His reply was ‘no’ since in the contest rules stated that “no one who had ever worked for Gregarious Simulation Systems, or anyone in their immediate families, was eligible to take part in the contest.”
    -Does that mean that technically Wade can’t compete since his mother worked within OASIS as a telemarketer and as an escort?  Or since it’s OASIS and not GSS directly he is in the clear?

    • sajison says:

      I took it to mean they can not work for GSS directly since they are the developers of OASIS. Working in OASIS is an end user interacting with the software.

  9. Alex says:

    – We know Wade has plenty of free time, but do you think it’s possible for him to learn and remember so much? Do you think he has any sort of special abilities (not eidetic memory but something like that)?
    I don’t think he has special abilities.  It’s like he said, he has no life whatsoever, so he has plenty of time to memorized a lot of 80s content over the course of five years.
    – Wade had to make a difficult decision by calling Sorrento’s bluff. Was it the right one? What would you have done in his shoes?
    Since he put himself in that position, I think he made the right move.  But if I were him, I would’ve just ignored the email.  Right when I started reading that section, I just knew that they would find out who he really was or already knew.
    Besides that, the story has gotten a little bit better.  It was all down hill for me until it got to the point of him meeting up with Sorrento.  A section that I thought was just ridiculous was when Art3mis gave Wade her contact card, which was in the form of a Kenner Star Wars action figure.  Still in the damn blister pack.  I’m sitting there thinking to myself, that is just plain idiotic!  It’s such a Gary Stu move, of course the love interest’s card would be exactly something that the author would think is cool.  Such an eye roll moment.
    And conveniently she would think Wade’s Atari 2600 cartridge card is awesome.  The more I read, the more I started to think that she represented someone the author had a crush on when he was in high school but never had a chance of getting with her.  So since Wade represents him, of course she would think him all kinds of amazing.
    And am I the only one thinking that these challenges are just way too easy?  I mean really, a jousting game to win the copper key?  I expected better in light of all the challenges Wade mentioned from the original game.  Five years of puzzling over a riddle just to easily win the key in a joust.  Disappointing.  And the author is stuffing in so much 80s crap it’s getting irritating.  At some points, it seems like some sections were written as an afterthought.  Like, oops, I forget to mention such and such 80s item.
    Sometimes it feels less like a story and more like an “I Love the 80s” episode.  

  10. Louis Ghanem says:

    Well, things turned serious pretty quickly. To be perfectly honest, I was genuinely taken aback when IOI bombed several homes in an attempt to kill Wade. Up until that point, the book had been a fun, low-stakes adventure about a video game competition. I like that development a lot though; it added a great sense of urgency to the quest.
    As for Wade’s decision to call Sorrento’s bluff, I have to say, I don’t blame him. I’m sure that Sorrento would have killed him anyway. I probably would have done the same, though I don’t know if i would’ve handled the guilt as well as he did (even though he’s blameless).
    I do think it’s possible for Wade to know and remember all that he does, without having any special abilities. I’m sure we all know as much as he does about our own personal areas of interest. And I’m sure we all know quite a few movies well enough to play them out. You watch a movie you love often enough, it’s impossible not to. *Proceeds to recite a Star Wars film*. If I get bonus points for mimicking the voices, or humming along with the soundtrack, even better!

  11. Vera says:

    I have to admit, the book got a bit more interesting in these later chapters.

    What got me was IOI messaged him and offered him loads of money, and he had these bogus conditions. If he would have taken the offer of becoming the president of the company I think he would of been able to make some positive changes in IOI, but what do I know right?

    As a poor college student I found myself hyperventilating a little on the mention of all the money he’ll be making off of this job, I would have taken it only because of financial security. As for Nolan Sorrento, I just thought he was a bit of a cliche “big corporation bad guy” I just think it’s a bit overdone, but yeah, I didn’t actually expect him to be that big of a deal, but, he kinda was.

    I mean, he did blow up an entire trailer sky scraper of people, and made it look like an accident. Which by the way, seemed like a hazardous construction to begin with. So that was interesting.

    Question 1: I’m not sure, I mean they are friends, but I’m sure Aech would have been able to figure it out on his second try if he failed to do it on his first.

    Question 2: I think this has to do with two things: 1. he really loved the 80s and the pop culture etc is very important to him thus he loves studying it and has a lot of things to connect to

    2. plot convenience.

    Question 3: Maybe “The Room” if i watch it a few more times and not laugh too much during it. “The Princess Bride” is another option, and again if I watch it a lot. If all else fails 2004 “Phantom of the Opera” I know it really well Id’ think, I watched it all the time when I was younger.

    Question 4: Well, I know i wouldn’t have taunted Sorrento, or been rude to him to his face, I guess it just has to do with me being really polite. Yes I would have probably said that what he was doing was wrong, but then again he wouldn’t have listened to me.

    Question 5: I think he was bluffing, they were going to make changes. He just wanted Wade to believe that.

  12. Mateo says:

    as you might know Ready Player One is in the midst of becoming a movie and something I’ve noticed is that there isn’t a whole lot of dialog in the book, either  talking in his head or explaining some random 80’s trivia so i ask you, how do you think Warner Bros is going to take care of this?

    • Vera says:

      I would think a lot of “In OASIS” content would be added, maybe they’d add dialogue, maybe they’d focus on characters more, maybe they’d focus on action more than anything else, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    • unikers says:

      I think they’ll probably do an intro or prologue with Wade as the narrator, but they’ll switch to a third person point of view for most of the movie. There’s a lot of action in the OASIS and the real world that they can certainly show. It might be good to have the story unfold through the different characters’ perspectives that follow the events in the book instead of just having the story be from Wade’s POV.

    • Santiago says:

      If recent comic movies are any indication, there will be a 10 minute exposition of faux-CNN and other news clips explaining the conflicts, references, and main characters.