Ready Player One

Ready Player One Access to Education and Technology

In Ready Player One, James Halliday knew that he had created a world-changing resource. The world would never be the same again because Halliday had created something that would immediately become integral to the very way that people lived their lives. Halliday gave anyone who could afford the internet and the appropriate gear a better life. It became easier than ever before to be the best, happiest version of yourself.

It also became easier to get educated in the OASIS' top-of-the-line public schools. The OASIS raised children and shielded them from the dark world they were born into. OASIS also stored catalogs of all of the information in recorded history. Anyone could learn anything in the OASIS, barred by nothing, not even each other, as the schools were non-PvP zones.

But all of that depends on one important factor: access. Life on Earth in 2045 as a person who could not afford to connect to the OASIS must have been a very different experience—one where most of the world ignored your very existence, one of vast and widening inequality. So, beyond questions of whether the OASIS is good for society, the existence of its resources implies a question of access to the OASIS. This is the core conflict of the novel. What makes the IOI antagonists is the fact that the company wishes to capitalize off of the OASIS and institute membership fees, thus barring more people from ever accessing that world. If any product of the OASIS happened to be a fundamental human right, and many argue that education is, then it would be necessary that the opportunity for education remain free and accessible by the public.

Many resources we have in the early 21st century honor this ideal, such as websites like Wikipedia or educational resources like Khan Academy. Unfortunately, free education only goes so far, and many of the materials of higher education remain out of reach to the general population, hidden under firewalls and within expensive institutions. In recent years, technology has been created to broaden access to free education on the Internet, such as MIT's free online courses.