Gaming is rooted in literature. Early video games were naught more than digital Choose Your Own Adventure books. A straight line connects the oral storytelling of Dungeons & Dragons to Final Fantasy and Skyrim. One could even argue the influence of Zane Grey and Tom Clancy on FPS titles. Gaming and literature share the allele of mental immersion, giving us both Worlds of Power and Mass Effect.
Unlike novelizations of Mega Man 2 or Halo, Ernest Cline’s kinetic Ready Player One isn’t just a video game novel; it’s a novel that picks at the intersection of gaming and humanity. Think of it as a self-referential Dungeons & Dragons campaign or a DLC pack that comes into play when you step out your front door.
The plot follows Wade Watts, a destitute teen living in a dystopian, poverty-stricken, future Oklahoma City. Like the rest of America, Wade’s only escape from the crumbling economy is a virtual reality/MMORPG/social network called OASIS that trades heavily on nostalgia for the late 20th century. When OASIS creator James Halliday dies and wills his fortune to whomever finds a series of easter eggs within OASIS, Wade’s pluck (and encyclopedic knowledge of the 1980′s) land him front and center in a game that makes Battletoads seem simple.
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