Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

From plot debriefs to key motifs, Thug Notes’ Ready Player One Summary & Analysis has you covered with themes, symbols, important quotes, and more.

Ready Player One (2011) | Written by: Ernest Cline

Ready Player One Thug Notes Summary & Analysis

Sup baby? This week on Thug Notes we jackin in with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s da year 2040 and errything f***in sucks- I’m talkin famine, poverty, an energy crisis up the a**, wars- I could go on playa. To escape this whacked out world, errybody live in a VR game called the OASIS. You can do ANYTHING up in here – get yo learn on, hustle at a job, buy stuff, swang n’ bang, whatever. Erryone up on their daily grind when da creator of the OASIS, a 10 figure balla named James Halliday, takes dat long dirt nap and drops a video message on all the playas. Brutha say he hid an easter egg in the OASIS, and da first cat to nab three keys that unlock it gets ALL his fat stacks. MONEY!

For the next five years, homies bustin a** tryna find dem keys and get on da big-a** scoreboard. Deez peeps called “gunters” and they WILD about the 80s and errything Halliday. Ain’t nobody find s*** til our 18 year old narrator Wade step up and crack the first clue. Wooo! See- Wade come from the hood so he straight OBSESSED with gettin’ Halliday’s cash monies. One day, Wade chillin in latin class when he recognize the first key might be on this here school planet. So homeboy teleport to the spot, shakes off some traps, wrecks shop at a minigame, and HELL YEAH- he GIT dat key. He try to book it to the next spot when he runs into a famous hunny named Artemis, who Wade been HOT fo since his balls dropped.

Turns out she’s been tryna’ beat dat minigame for weeks, but just can’t hack it. Wade give her a tip on the low and swangs over to the next clue. Dude beasts through another minigame like a G and opens the first gate- where he gotta play Matthew Broderick in dat 80s movie WarGames. Afta he done with dat mess, he gets the next clue. Soon enough, Wade got some company on that scoreboard- Artemis, his homeboy Aech, and two bros named Daito and Shoto are on the come-up. Some shysters from a big a** corporation called IOI start blowin up Wade’s inbox sayin they wanna meet him. These haters are called Sixers- and the only thing on their mind is making BANK off The OASIS. Wade decide he wanna meet the top dawg, Sorrento, who offer Wade some mad grands to start playin fo their team.

When Wade say “Naw, brah I’m straight,” Sorrento say they know where he live and they gonna blow it to hell. Since Wade’s real body in his hideout, he just shake dat hater off. Then BOOM- His auntie’s trailer go up in smoke, and a buncha innocents get merced. Scurred as hell, Wade holler at all his homies, and when he tell em what went down they all wig OUT. So Wade skips town and lays low by takin a new name. While he tryin to crack the next clue, The Sixers try to ice him, and he gets his woo on with Artemis. But brutha moovin too fast, so Artemis gotta shut him down. Rookie move, Wade.

A couple months go by and Wade’s doin what I call the post-breakup hustle: workout, stay busy, and buy a sex doll. He ain’t no closer to finding the second key when outta nowhere- Artemis got it! With a lil’ help from Aech, Wade connects the dots and books it to a planet where he go hard at a game of pac-man and wins…. a quarter? Da hell is this shit? Boy thinkin this is a LITTLE easter egg so he pockets it. Wade slides over to another planet, takes down a game, and gets that second key! S’all good til he get word that the sixers ghosted Daito in real life. Mmmmm. Dat ain’t good. Soon, he boosts the third key and rolls over to the spot where the easter egg gonna be. But “Oh s***!!!!”- a whole gang of Sixers is posted up outside the castle. So he comes up with a plan. Afta gettin GOT the po-lice, Wade hacks into the IOI to boost some scandalous evidence, mess with their shield, and then BLOWS that joint. He hit up Artemis, Shoto, and Aech telling them to BAIL cuz the IOI is lookin’ to OFF em in the real world.

They all meet in a chatroom and conversate bout how they gonna take down the Sixers. They need ALL the other hoods in the OASIS to crew up with them in the fight, so wade send a message to ERRYBODY tellin’ em when they gonna throw down. While they plottin, Hallidays padna Morrow shows up in the chat room and say he been creepin on em. He send errybody some swanky planes to haul em to his crib. When they ready to bang out, the shield falls and a buncha of gunters and sixers start scrappin. the Sixers drop a bomb and BOOOOM- ERRYBODY dies. Cept Wade! Remember that quarter he got? Turns out it was an “extra life,” so he keep hustlin’. He wrecks anotha’ game and plays king arthur in dat movie with the coconuts. After bustin through some other challenges, he finally gets the easter egg. Halliday’s character show up and say “Yo- reality can be raw as hell, but it’s da only place you can find happiness, cuz reality is real. You feel me?”

Sorrento gets thrown in the clink and Wade gonna share his phat check with his homies. Then Wade and Artemis hook up in the real world and finally kiss. Awww yeah! If there’s one thing this book always goin on about it’s escapin’ from the horrible bulls*** in yo life. I mean errybody’s lives are so damn s****y that they all holed up inside a videogame. The game don’t just give em a DIFFERENT world, but one dat let people shine and live life on da easy. It ain’t just people gettin their marbles off by losin themselves in another world, but also by losin themselves in the past. Errybody in this book always geeked up bout 80s s***- from PacMan and a Young Matty B- no not that one- to Monty Python, but no Run DMC? Man that’s some bulls***. If yo head always livin in the past, how you gonna create new ideas, man? How you s’posed to fully live? Truth is, sometimes by tryna escape one trap, people actually end up creating another one.

“I’d come to see my rig for what it was: an elaborate contraption for deceiving my senses, to allow me to live in a world that didn’t exist. Each component of my rig was a bar in the cell where I had willingly imprisoned myself. . . . In real life, I was nothing but an antisocial hermit. . . . I was just another sad, lost, lonely soul, wasting his life on a glorified video game.” (198)

So is this kinda future technology bangin or busted? Well on the one hand, da the Oasis playas can get all the dank knowledge they want- I’m talkin free information, free schooling, and da ability to conversate with homies all over da world. On the other hand, if you don’t check yo’self, you can end up isolating yoself from any meaningful connections. So Is the OASIS a utopia or a dystopia? Well to be real, dat answer ain’t so easy. The Oasis give po’ strugglin folk access to education and jobs since there ain’t none on the outside. But dat ALSO mean that they ignoring all da mess happenin around them in da real world, which only make dat reality rot to s***.. It’s like there’s a utopia WITHIN a dystopia. You feel me?

In da real world Wade ain’t got no friends, no benjamins, and no respect. But in The Oasis, dude got solid rep, a nice cashflow, and a loyal crew. I mean just check this – One sec Wade jabberin bout how horrible s*** is:

“Things used to be awesome, but now they’re kinda terrifying. . . . Human civilization is in ‘decline.’ Some people even say it’s ‘collapsing.’” (17-18)

Then he start talkin up his life like it’s all tight:

“Luckily, I had access to the OASIS, which was like having an escape hatch into a better reality. . . . It was my playground and my preschool, a magical place where anything was possible. The OASIS is the setting of all my happiest childhood memories.” (18)

So is escape the answer to livin in a jacked up world? Is it better to kick back and live a decent life in a fake world or be on the struggle in reality?? Maybe we should spend time caring for our reality and make it the place to be rather than just givin up and peacing out to somewhere else. Or maybe f*** it- what’s reality anyway? I’m going wherever they got the dankest libraries.

Catch y’all next time. Peace.

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