Wade returned to his classroom, where his professor materialized in front of the class. Wade received a quality education through the OASIS’s public schooling, where professors were able to take students on immersive field trips, going inside a pumping heart or to Jupiter’s moons.
In Chapter 4, Wade discussed at length the structure of the OASIS. The worlds in the OASIS were organized into zones, of which there were 27 organized into the shape of a Rubik’s cube. The zones were difficult to travel to, so one of the ways developers profited off of the game was charging people for the virtual fuel it costs to get a character from one world to another. The worlds were all distinct from each other, with particular rules and codes, and to navigate all of them safely, one would have to be of a high level in the game. Because Wade was stuck on Ludus, the education planet, which was a safe planet, he had no access to opportunities to level up. He was frustrated with his situation, and this heightened his drive to find Halliday’s egg. He was stuck at the third level, and he felt that he wouldn’t be taken seriously as a gunter until he was at least at the tenth.
After lunch, Wade had Advanced OASIS Studies, a class devoted to teaching the history of the OASIS and its creators. Wade had been studying Halliday since the contest came out five years prior, so the class was an easy A for him. Wade idolized Halliday, who he called “a god among geeks” (52). Halliday was the epitome of a self-made man, who left school with nothing and used his mind to create a fortune. Wade believed that there might be some kind of clue in the way that Halliday lived his life and in the strange pieces of information he chose to be shared about him after his death.
Wade took Latin in school because that was the language that Halliday himself took in school, and of which the videogame creator borrowed words occasionally in the construction of his games. While bored in class, Wade would pull up Anorak’s Almanac in order to reread some of his favorite passages. He had spent his time becoming deeply familiar with every source that Halliday mentioned in the Almanac, which included books, movies, and other media. It was such a large list of material, that along the way, Wade became carried away with his research. He memorized everything so that if it proved useful, he would recognize the reference. He became “obsessed,” and this caused his grades to suffer.
While reading the Almanac in class, Wade found a clue. Wade had already noticed that scattered throughout the Almanac was a series of marked letters, which had a notch cut into its outline. The notches led to a clue about the destination of the Copper Key. This limerick led Wade to Dungeons & Dragons, as it included the name of one of the game’s modules, Tomb of Horrors. This realization helped Wade think of the contest as an extended D&D quest, where Halliday was the dungeon master.
It was through Latin that Wade found his lead. He realized that the Copper Key could very well be hidden on Ludus. He looked up the Latin translation of Ludus and discovered that the name of the planet translated to school but also to “game.” He followed the D&D instructions on how to find the Tomb of Horrors and matched the description with a hill he found on an aerial map of Ludus.
After class, Wade obtained a transport waiver through his school under the pretense of watching an away sports game and took off toward the tomb. According to the D&D module, within the tomb, Wade should have expected a series of traps, monsters, treasures, and a Demi-Lich. A Lich is an “undead creature, usually an incredibly powerful wizard or king who had employed dark magic to bind his intellect to his own reanimated corpse” (74). Using the module helped Wade avoid the majority of the traps and monsters, as the guide detailed where each would be and how to deal with them.
While the world of the future was a dark one, Wade and others like him found solace through the OASIS. The OASIS was a free world where anyone could be whoever they dreamed of being, and it was only through OASIS that many of the characters built relationships and had meaningful lives. Schooling was also improved through the OASIS, and Wade spoke highly of the public school he attended, where the teachers were all competent and engaged and enjoyed their jobs. Unfortunately, even though logging onto OASIS was free, traveling between the worlds was not. This expense inhibited Wade’s actions at the beginning of his story, as he couldn't afford to transport between worlds.
Halliday’s story offers an interesting perspective from which to understand Ready Player One. In many ways, Halliday’s was a success story of capitalism, where a person with nothing was able to create everything through only his talents and diligent work. Wade idolized everything that Halliday represented. When discussing Halliday’s biography, he noted that Halliday struggled socially as a child, because “he had an extremely difficult time communicating with people around him” (53). He was always invested in all things pop culture, but he had a special affinity for video games.
Although he found success professionally, Halliday never overcame his struggle to connect with people in real life. There are clear connections between Wade and Halliday’s characterizations. In an effort to win the competition, Wade adopted Halliday’s obsessions. According to Wade, over the five years since the contest began, Anorak’s Almanac “had become my bible” (61). It is through the Almanac that Wade found his first clue.
Halliday’s devotion to public schooling is key because it further exemplifies this tension within his character between social beliefs and work, on the one hand, and the desire to get rich, on the other. Halliday’s insistence that there always be quality public schooling in the OASIS was indicative of a belief that the video game's resources should be accessible to everyone. Wade decided that if Halliday had in fact hidden the key on Ludus it was because he wanted a student to find it. This implied that he suspected that others would try to monetize the program and to end its open-source nature.
Wade’s incessant preparation for this task had given him the ability to navigate it with ease. Wade was able to succeed in the tomb even though he was only at a Level 3 because the task as a whole was more of a puzzle than a display of power or skill. This supported Wade’s thought that Halliday might intend for a student to win the Hunt. How Halliday’s postmortem preferences came into play are important inquiries into the message of Ready Player One as a whole. As the novel's protagonists emerge, the Sixers remain as the only truly identifiable antagonists in the book.