Wade figured out the clue on the Jade Key, which referenced the film Blade Runner, which Halliday loved and was referenced in the Almanac fourteen times. The clue references a device that is used in the film to distinguish humans from non-human entities. In the movie, this device was held in the Tyrell building.
As soon as he arrived, Wade had to defend himself against the NPC security guards positioned within the building to guard the test. He fought them all off. He made it to the room the device was in and took the test. Nothing happened until he removed the Jade Key, at which time the second gate was revealed to him.
Through the Second Gate Wade found himself in a bowling alley, where he was being pushed by an invisible force toward the Black Tiger console in the arcade. Wade had already mastered the game a year before because of references to it in images on the Scoreboard. The game was of special significance to Halliday, who would turn to it when his parents fought. This time, Wade wasn’t tasked with playing the game itself but had become the game’s avatar. He would have to beat the game from within.
Wade beat the game. On the congratulations page, he was offered to take a giant robot with him as a prize. He elected Leopardan, a robot from a Japanese version of Spider-Man from the 1970s. He also received his clue for the Crystal Key—a glowing red star. Wade recognized the clue for the Crystal Key immediately. It was a reference to Halliday’s favorite band, Rush. Specifically, an experimental sci-fi album they made on the cover of which the exact same star could be found. The second song in the album led Wade to the planet Syrinx. The key to finding the key was to retrieve a guitar from behind a waterfall and place it on an altar.
When he found the guitar, Wade tried to play it to see if that did anything, and it exposed a clue. The clue told him that the third gate “cannot be unlocked alone” (263). Wade realized that the Sixers must not have received that clue, and this has been the reason they have been stumped about the third gate. Wade received the Crystal Key and returned to first place on the Scoreboard. The clue Wade gained when receiving the key led him to Halliday’s castle, which the Sixers barricaded as soon as Wade passed the Second Gate. They had their entire army guarding the castle, with the third gate inaccessibly hidden inside.
Wade formed a plan. Sometime later, the IOI corporate police came for Wade. He was being arrested under the pretense of unpaid IOI credit bills. Wade had fortified his walls, so he bought himself a number of minutes as they began to cut through them. He wiped his hard drive and waited to be apprehended. They dragged him out of the building, out into the world. He had not been outside of his apartment in six months. He was shocked to see how bleak the city was, largely decrepit, dirty and full of more homeless than he had seen before. Luckily, Wade was processed under the fake identity he had created for himself when the Sixers attempted to kill him. He infiltrated the IOI as an indentured servant.
Wade was assigned to a post in IOI’s Technical Support call center. In his post, Wade’s access to the OASIS was entirely limited. But he had rigged the security camera in his room so that when he turned off the lights he would be able to sneak onto the OASIS secretly. He was able to do this because of a set of confidential IOI passwords that he had won in an auction. His plan was to hack into the Sixer’s private database in order to bring down the shield they had erected over Halliday’s castle. Inside the database, he secured himself the privacy he needed, as well as a hard drive with which he could collect the information he gained on the company.
Wade found information on the Sixer operations, including intel on their weapons, armor, vehicles, etc. He also found a folder documenting every effort made so far by the Sixers to gain the Third Gate. He also found the folder where the Sixers kept the information they had on the “High Five.” It showed him that they had no information on where he was in the world. In Art3mis’ file, he saw a picture of his friend, identical to her avatar except for the addition of a birthmark that covered half of her face. He learned they had been monitoring her for months. They had less information on Shoto and almost no information on Aech.
Wade realized that IOI had been illegally eavesdropping on its users in order to conduct surveillance and search for the gunters they perceived to be threats. He also found plans submitted by Sorrento to “dispose” of Art3mis and Shoto the next day. Wade gave himself until dawn to acquire as much information on the Sixers as possible, and then escape.
The Second Gate was hidden in a replica of one of the main buildings in the movie Blade Runner—the Tyrell building. Halliday had included this building as part of a free template through the OASIS world-building software. This meant that many versions of it existed in many worlds across the platform, and the building was “among the most common structures in the OASIS” (251). Wade was able to go to the one nearest to him, instead of having to travel to a particular segment or world.
The location of the Second Gate offers an interesting insight into the locations that the keys and gates have been in so far. The First Key was found hidden on Ludus, a planet where thousands of kids went or had gone to school. The First Gate was hidden in a replica of Halliday’s home, of which he created thousands on one planet. The Second Key was found inside of a replica of a game, also repeated many times over the surface of a planet. Halliday knew to expect that many people would be after the keys and gates once, so he created many opportunities for characters to access these resources. He also did not choose locations that were too obscure or hard to access by the “common” OASIS player.
Within the gates, a pattern emerged. Wade noticed that in the First Gate he was placed inside of Halliday’s favorite movie, and in the second he was placed within his favorite video games. The Third Gate, unable to be unlocked alone, was his castle. His home and fortress, it would prove to be the biggest challenge yet. What Wade had attempted to do back at the beginning of the game could be the only option moving forward: he would have to ally himself with Art3mis, Aech, and Shoto. As the game came to a head, lines would have to be drawn, with IOI on one side and all gunters on the other. Wade was no longer playing for himself, which is why he automatically sent the information on how to achieve the next key and gate to Art3mis, Aech, and Shoto.
The proposed punishment for the debt that Wade incurred was a position of indentured servitude under the IOI. All of a sudden, his physical health mattered more to IOI than it ever had before. As soon as Wade became company property, he lost his freedom but also gained a certain amount of protection against IOI’s brutality. Another interesting aspect of this arrangement is the number of people who considered becoming indentured as a form of job security, where they would be saved from starvation or freezing to death in the street. This tells of an incredibly broken system where poverty is for many an inescapable prison. At the same time, it resembles the prison system in the United States, into which homeless individuals sometimes intentionally get committed to prison in order to gain access to health care, food and a place to sleep.
The city had changed a lot in the time since Wade had left his apartment last. Wade noticed that the number of homeless people had gone up and that public parks had been turned into refugee camps. Even though the contest was being fought against forces trying to capitalize upon their entire world, the contest itself continued the disintegration of this society.
IOI’s illegal surveillance of its users also resonates with the complexities of data security that we face in the 21st century. This connection relates back to the open-source dialogue that is so essential to the meaning of Ready Player One. In Ready Player One, once a company like IOI gained a monopoly over the resource people used in virtually every aspect of life, they come to own much more than their money. IOI literally owned thousands of people and controlled thousands more because of their power. Power like this would inevitably lead to the violation of fundamental human rights.