I rather like the title of the novel that I am currently reading to my husband whenever we take long drives: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The title really gets at the 80’s geek-culture theme of the novel while evoking that feeling of heightened senses, that hyper-alert readiness one feels when about to begin playing (or in my case, losing) a video game.
We’ve just begun the novel but the basic idea is that an impoverished gamer-geek in a dystopian future stumbles onto the first clue in a decades-old puzzle left by the designer of the virtual world most people now spend large chunks of their lives logged into. Willy Wonka style, whoever solves the puzzle gets the keys to the kingdom: the video-game mogul’s vast fortune and a controlling share of the stock in his company, which controls the OASIS (the aforementioned virtual world).A lot rides on that controlling interest: the privacy of every gamer using OASIS, its accessibilty to all regardless of financial status, the OASIS refreshing lack of in-game advertising.
Upon his death, the tycoon left an 80’s-reference-packed video announcing this contest. Decades later many have lost interest in the hunt for that first copper key which is hidden somewhere in OASIS, his magnum opus. Those keeping the flame alive study 80’s film, television, video games, and cultural paraphernalia with a religious fervor.
The title is a reference to those early coin-op favorites that alerted competitors to the start of gameplay with the phrase “Ready Player One”. Fitting, because once the narrator unearths that first key, he’ll have to be on his game.