Classic anime, coin-operated video games, popular 80s movies and TV shows, vintage technology, and the most immersive MMORPG?
Not joke, Ready Player One is the epitome of geekdom.
The book is loaded with video game jargon and 80s references and extensive world building—which in turn is influenced by the video game jargon and 80s references.
The players can ride around in delorians or the spaceship from Cowboy Bebop, wield a bastard sword and a lightsaber simultaneously, visit the Voight-Kampff machine from Blade Runner (i.e. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), and party in zero-g globes.
This results in MASSIVE amounts of infodumping, which would be forgivable if:
- Once the OASIS is established, the infodumping was reduced to a minimum
- I wasn’t reading this via audiobook
As amazing as the world of Ready Player One and the OASIS is, I’m pretty sure Cline doesn’t need to explain every nitty gritty detail of the world until necessary. There are large amounts of infodumping because of his tendency to explain large aspects of the gaming world, especially between important plot points, making the story somewhat disjointed as Wade goes into yet another tirade on the sixers.
The infodumping can go on for minutes, and I forget that Wade was playing Pac Man until he reminds me of eating yellow dots. The description is ridiculously meticulous, naming the company and year of release of nearly every video game mentioned.
But, here’s the clincher: it’s come to my attention that Ready Player One is full of footnotes.
It’s possible that a lot of these infodumps are footnotes in the book, meaning I’d probably glance at them if I was reading the hardcopy, but more likely move on to the next bit.
In a way, I do appreciate the long explanations because (1) I did not live through the 80s and (2) I am not a gamer nerd. I mean, I know what a DeLorean and an Atari are. I know Ghostbusters, The Breakfast Club, Monty Python, and Pac Man. I feel like my lacking knowledge makes the book both very entertaining and also very boring. Since I know little, the clues aren’t very obvious to me, which is exciting, but that also means that when they are solved, I’m not excited and hitting myself in the head for not being smart enough to figure it out, which is what usually makes mysteries fun for me.
So there definitely is price to Cline’s choice of references to 80s geekdom. But it’s a small price to pay.