I sat down to write a review of Ready Player One, there must be a million reviews of RP1 already on the internet. In fact, here is one from the New York Times. I’ve made no fewer than a dozen fart jokes writing for Nerds on Earth, so there’s no way I can add to what the Times has already produced.
But I can make lists of seven, so here it is: 7 Thoughts About Ready Player One.
7 Thoughts About Ready Player One
1. It made me miss World of Warcraft. Sure, it was laid on thick that the future would have all of us mindlessly plugged into a virtual reality network, addicted to the point that we never go outside, nor will we know anyone’s real name.
That didn’t deter me, it just made me miss my World of Warcraft days. Sure, I had to stop playing because it was consuming me (like RP1 predicts), but darned if that game isn’t fun. And I miss it.
2. I want to be friends with Ernest Cline. Years ago Cline had a screenplay credit for Fanboys, the movie about Star Wars fanatics, of which I am one. Then Cline had his breakout with RP1, a book that – let’s be honest – isn’t lauded for literary accomplishments, it’s just freaking cool and enjoyable because of all the 1980s op culture references. CAN THE MAN PEER INTO MY SOUL?!?
Star Wars, arcade cabinets, D&D, and Back to the Future…fate dictates that Ernest Cline and I should be friends.
3. I am not opposed to binge-watching I love the 80s. Remember that old VH1 show? Would it be weird to binge it on Netflix? I don’t even know if it’s available, nor is it healthy to drop so deep into the rabbit hole of nerdy nostalgia, but darned if RP1 wasn’t even enough for me. I need even more 80s geek nostalgia, so much that I could watch 4 days straight of I Love the 80s.
4. RP1 was a pretty classic hero’s tale. Joseph Campbell would be proud. Ernest Cline took the main character, Wade, on a hero’s journey, beginning as a nobody, to receiving help from some friends, to finally challenging and defeating the villain at the end.
5. I recognized 94% of the references. I hate Tomb of Horrors, despite it being an iconic D&D module. On the other hand, I loved ZORK as a kid. But even if the specific 80s references weren’t to my taste, I was thrilled by each of every one of them.
I don’t know what it is about reliving the games of your childhood, but it’s for sure a thing, as evidenced by the runaway success of the book. (Related, the signing of Steven Spielberg to direct the movie adaptation is the perfect nod to 80s nostalgia.)
6. The ‘real-life’ versions of Wade’s fellow gunters made me smile. I don’t want to spoil it fully, but to learn the real identities of Art3mis and Aech was wonderful, I thought, despite the fact that it was cliché.
I think the fact that those reveals made me smile illustrates what I loved most about RP1. I’m know to give myself back eyes I roll my eyes so hard, but even during the predictable, clichéd moments of RPI1, I was all in. RP1 was completely without cynicism and instead was full-on geek nostalgia love. And I went with it.
7. I wonder what a Ready Player 2 would be like. RP1 was all 80s references, focusing on the early 80s, in fact. This was a time of arcade cabinets, classic D&D, and text-based computer gaming. I think I’m only a couple of years younger than Ernest Cline, so it was right up my alley and I had spent hundreds of hours playing the games in the book.
But I wondered if younger readers enjoyed the book as well. What about folks who came of age in the 90s? If there was a RP2 set in the 90s, what pop culture games, books, and music would be included?
Maybe that’s a question for you to weigh-in on Facebook. What, dear readers, is the iconic gaming memories of the 90s? Let me know below.