Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Year: First published: 2011; New edition published: 05/04/2012
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Science Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy
Get a copy: 1) Search in local bookstores to support small business 2) Amazon
Short Description: The world has become an ugly place and human population is at stake. While famine and poverty are spread across the real world, people are avoiding the depression by entering this virtual utopia called, the OASIS. Wade Watts, our hero, is our only hope for saving the little that we have left from а big corporation trying to rule this wretched planet. His mission is to obtain an ancient artifact which will give the holder ultimate power. One man versus an army. The odds are against him but he has nothing to lose.
The author sends us in the not so distant year 2044, where our planet is wrecked thanks to the things we are currently doing, right now in the real world. Things like mega consumerism, smartphone addiction, not controlled waste, lack of direction and ambition in people for brighter future, electricity consumption. The only place left for people to feel alive is a virtual world called the OASIS.
Our hero in the story, Wade Watts, devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize.
Probably the first science fiction novel I’ve ever read. The conclusion: I will be definitely reading more of those.
When you start going through the pages of the book, you become obsessed. Each sentence leads you to the other one and soon you find yourself inside this imaginary world where everything seems possible. If you’re a gamer and you were born between 1980 and 1990, like me, you will definitely love the book. It has everything an old-fashioned gamer will love: superheroes, old movies, old video games, even old music, also, references to the game Dungeon and Dragons role-playing game.
I took me no more than 12 hours, spread throughout 7 days, to finish the book. Even though the plot is quite generic – a battle for saving humanity, the way the author tells us the story is quite engaging, and fun. I was looking forward to the moment I would get my hands on the book.
The entire virtual world is involved in a game, the winner of which will control this fictional world called the OASIS. This world has become more real than the real world, actually. People have become so dependent that they actually left our nature to rot and the only meaningful reason for existence, for them, became the moment they log into this virtual game where you can be anything you’re not in the real world. A lot like how we behave inside our current social media platforms. People get an ego boost by more likes, rather than valuable achievements in real life.
Wade, a young boy with an affinity towards the 80s culture, enters the contest wholeheartedly. After years of struggle, he somehow appears on the top of the scoreboard in the world most important game.
Ready Player One is astonishing. A book that will save you from your boring everyday life, and plug you into this amazing world full of adventures. A true must read.
Notes, thoughts, and essential takeaways that I want to remember from the book. My main goal is to leave you with curated content, to which you can easily return to in the future for reference, that’s holding (spoil free) insights of the book, but mainly actionable steps, that can be used in our real lives:
Virtual Life – if Our Real Life Sucks
Being Human totally sucks most of the time. Video games are the only thing that makes life bearable.” An excerpt from Anorak’s Almanac.
When I was little, around the age of 12, I adored video games. I was daily abusing titles like Quake, Unreal, StarCraft, Diablo, WarCraft, Stronghold, and Counter-Strike. My life was consumed by these games and I had little to non-social life. In a way, I was simply avoiding the outside world. Procrastinating the inevitable. Being unattractive when entering your teenage years can leave you locked inside your own home for days to come.
Even though video games, virtual reality, and social media channels, are proof of the vast advance of human nature. They take away a unique capability: the ability to interact, socialize with others, without this uncomfortable feeling inside our stomach.
Everybody knows that 99 percent of the so-called “Geeks” have poor social skills. Opposed to the knowledge they have about killing the final boss of every game with minimum effort, they have close to zero experience when they need to speak with someone. This is even worse if they have to talk to the opposite sex. Keeping yourself in a state of solitary for years eventually leads to this avoidance of actually speaking with someone.
Our hero in this story is not an object of discussion. He is an imaginary persona. What I am talking about all of us who hide from real life and prefer to stay under siege inside his own home. The one thing that really makes a difference is connecting with people. Don’t late most of your time slip away behind a monitor.
Global Civilization Destroying Earth
In this book, Ernest shows us our future if we continue to use the planet resources as we’re now. A scenario widely used in worldwide famous movie titles – Geostorm, Idiocracy, The Day After Tomorrow, Artificial Intelligence, Waterworld, the titles are so many to mention all of them.
However, the resembles you will find in the world described by Cline are so likely to happen that it almost feels that it really will: 1) People obsessed with online game/platform? We’re already doing it in the face of social media. 2) People over consuming energy? Thousands of people are currently “mining” for cryptocurrency which results in huge energy consumption. 3) People over consuming everything? Already happening: cars; food; clothes; energy, gas, fuel, waste and etc. We’re constantly producing more than we can consume. More waste is being produced, leading to more air pollution.
If we keep going the same road, no wonder if we find ourselves hooked in a virtual world in a couple of year time, leaving our bodies to rust while our mind is preoccupied with a fancy graphic.
Is there a solution? The reason there are more than 100 different toilet paper companies in your country alone, is probably socialism. The option of choice. While communism was trying to sell us all the same grey T-shirt, socialism is making T-shirts of every color. That’s the only way to please every living thing. Not that I am a huge fan of communism, quite the contrary. I hate it. People should be encouraged to be themselves – different, strange, unique. That can’t happen while communist rules. It is closer to a dictatorship than anything else. We probably need 80% of the things we currently have.
Decluttering your home is a good starting point. However, this is only a short-term solution. What we really need is a hard reset of the way we think about buying things. So next time you end up choosing between two T-shirts, stop and think about this: “Do I really need a new T-shirt, or I have plenty?” A lot of times 1 is already enough.
Our Goals Gives Us Direction in Life
The moment I began searching for the egg, the future no longer seemed so bleak.” Wade Owen Watts
Wade, as also the rest of the world, is on a hunt for finding the egg – a unique artifact which will grant the owner total control of OASIS. Hidden somewhere inside this huge imaginary world, the pursuers must gather their strengths and think outside of the box in order to solve the puzzle.
Strangely, the only time we feel really alive is when we seek greatness, power, limitless strength. That, of course, is different for all of us. Some, really do pursue world dominance, for others, a house full of childish laughter is enough to ask. We all search for our egg in a way. The big question remains though: “What’s that thing that will make me feel complete? What should I search for?”
When Wade’s quests begin in the book, he no longer feels boredom. His mind and thoughts are focused towards this one ultimate goal. This helps him forget the shit hole he is living in, the fact that he has no money and no parents.
Having said that – the above seems like a great solution for people who don’t like their current state of living and are looking for a way to change that. “When you’ve reached the bottom, the only way is up”, they say. Even if you’ve reached the bottom, your purpose will give you focus, direction, but most importantly hope. No matter what your final goals is, if you want it bad enough, work hard enough, you will eventually reach it. Your future will no longer seem so desperate if you have a higher purpose in your mind.
In conclusion: if you’re not happy about your life, set a goal, start searching for happiness and don’t give up till you’ve reached the desired state.
Online You Can Be Whoever You Want
The OASIS lets you be whoever you want to be. That’s why everyone is addicted to it.” Wade Owen Watts
We’re currently living two separate lives:
- Our real life that’s happening in reality. Where you can actually touch, feel stuff, get hurt, kiss, do mistakes, move and other fun activities.
- The live happening inside our phones and laptops. You can hide your real personality, pretend to be someone else, be brave, talk shit about others, and other fun things requiring little to no movement.
I am sure you know people who are acting differently online. Pretending to know everything, abusing others, talking about themselves constantly, using filters to add an extra layer of beauty. The scenarios vary depending on the person. My conception is that people let loose online their other self, the person they so furiously suppress while they see you in person.
If you’re shy in the real world, you’re this bold guy online: talking serious and acting like you don’t care about anything. If you’re average looking girl with buds all over your face, you’re a straight 10 on social media. And my personal favorite: If you’re chasing chips in the real world, you’re probably looking almost millionaire online.
As the quote states above: “that’s why everyone is addicted to it”. OASIS gives users the freedom to choose their avatar and be who they really want to be. The same applies to our world. Close to 4 billion people (out of 7 billion people currently living in the World) are using the Internet and can be someone else. Indeed, that’s why everyone is addicted to it. You press a button, add your email, you upload a couple of pics, copy paste a couple of quotes found online and voila, you’re this smart, sexy looking guy or girl.
A good quest to pursue, for all of us, is to be the same person in all places. Are you up for this challenge?
We Will Never Reach Our Goals
No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.” Parzival pass phrase
When I was 20, my ultimate dream goal was to own an apartment. I fulfill this dream on 28. The moment I bought the place, I felt great satisfaction, relieve, joy. However, these feelings didn’t last long. Probably five minutes later I felt emptiness. What was I supposed to do now? My goal was accomplished and I had nothing to pursue now, nothing to fight for. Of course, these thoughts didn’t last long. A few weeks later I adopted another goal – to own a house somewhere distant, far from other people.
Do we ever get what we want?
I don’t think so. Once we earn 5000$ a month, we immediately desire to earn 6000$. Once we purchase something, at this exact moment, we want that other thing. It’s like a never-ending loop of constant desire for more.
Is that good or bad?
Well, it’s both. Bad, because we’ll probably never feel truly satisfied. Good, because we’re constantly extending our own limits. If we, as a species, we’re happy with sleeping in caves and wearing robes, we would never have reached our current state of technological superiority and growth. Basically, it’s a paradox.
In the end, there will be always something that you want, so don’t torment yourself about it. Learn, however, to find joy in the things you already have.
Some time later, she leaned over and kissed me. It felt just like all those songs and poems had promised it would. It felt wonderful. Like being struck by lightning. It occurred to me then that for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS.” Wade Owen Watts
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