Ready Player One

Ready Player One Literary Elements


Contemporary Science Fiction

Setting and Context

Earth, 2045. However, mostly set within the OASIS, a fully immersive virtual reality video game.

Narrator and Point of View

First-person narration from Wade Watts, who uses Parzival as his avatar name within the OASIS. He is 18 years old and still in high school. When not at school, he is a gunter (someone who searches for James Halliday's Easter egg).

Tone and Mood

Nostalgic and Ominous

Protagonist and Antagonist

Wade Watts, Nolan Sorrento (Head of the IOI)

Major Conflict

The search for the Easter egg, hidden inside the OASIS. Finding this will grant the user Halliday's legacy: billions of dollars and control of the OASIS. Wade and his friends, Art3mis and Aech, are in a race against the evil IOI, who want to capitalize on those using the OASIS currently for free.


The final battle. Sorrento and the Sixers have erected a force field above Castle Anorak, where the final gate is hidden. Wade, Aech, Art3mis, and Shoto invite the Gunter Clans to come to fight the Sixers with them. Using the robots they acquired in the Second Gate, the four turn in to giant robots and battle it out. After defeating Sorrento, everyone but Shoto enters the third gate. Wade must then battle through a game of 'Tempest' before the other Sixers beat him to the Egg.


The challenge in the first gate foreshadows the challenges that Wade is about to face. In it, he is the character David Lightman in a 1983 film called Wargames. In the film, David accidentally hacks into military nuclear codes and sets off WWIII, thinking he is playing a video game. Just like David, Wade struggles to see the difference between reality and the OASIS. In a further parallel to the film, his first actions in gaining the key set off a string of events that leads to war within the virtual reality.


Cline especially understates any emotion throughout the novel. When the IOI attempt to assassinate Wade by dropping a bomb on his stack, he comments that he is "freaked out." He only stops for a few moments to consider the people that were victims, and doesn't blame himself for their deaths. When Art3mis rejects him, Wade has an extremely adolescent reaction. He carries on, as usual, desperately hoping that he will spot Art3mis. To try and solve his issues, he buys a state-of-the-art sex doll, rather than mourning his loss.


With so many eighties references, it is undeniable that this fast-paced novel centered on adventure alludes to famous quests such as Indiana Jones. It follows a classic structure. The poor and honest protagonist must race against an evil organization to find the treasure before the world ends. This allusion only serves to increase the book's homage to what Cline portrays as the golden era, the 1980s.



A paradox emerges in that to give yourself a virtual life, you must be complicit in your death in reality. The stronger your avatar becomes, the weaker your body. Reality is sacrificed for the virtual world.


Throughout the novel, there are many parallels between the late James Halliday and the protagonist, Wade Watts. Halliday falls in love with Kira, who ends up marrying his business partner, Ogden Morrow. He stops talking to Ogden as it is too painful. Similarly, Wade breaks contact with his best friend, Aech, due to his affection for Art3mis. A further parallel is their origins. James and Ogden first wrote the program for the OASIS in their dorm rooms and went on to become legends and billionaires, granting themselves immortality in the OASIS. Wade follows the same path, starting from nothing to becoming famous and rich upon winning the Egg.

Metonymy and Synecdoche