Staff Favorite: Insert Coins and Search for 80’s Geek Nostalgia in Ready Player One

Ready Player One (1)

Ready Player One | Print Copy | eBook | Audiobook
by Ernest Cline

It is the year 2044 and climate change, limited physical resources and The Great Recession has rendered life on earth virtually unbearable. To escape the misery, the majority of humans ignore the fact that they are living in vertically stacked trailer parks and spend their waking hours in the OASIS, a massive multiplayer online simulation where the sky’s the limit (think of OASIS as Facebook meets World of Warcraft meets the Matrix without all the mean AI robots). In the OASIS, people go to school, build and explore virtual worlds, experience space flight, play video games, listen to music, hang out with friends … in fact in the OASIS people can do pretty much anything they want, given that they have enough “credits”.

OASIS was created by an eccentric, socially awkward programmer named James Halliday (whose character is a mashup of Steve Jobs and Howard Hughes with a lesser known eccentric programmer, Richard Garriott thrown in), whom died five years before the story takes place.  After his death a video will is release to those in OASIS along with a book that was dubbed Anorak’s Almanac, which purports to be a journal written by James Halliday’s on his passions and obsessions. The video says that whoever can collect three keys (Copper, Jade, and Crystal) that are hidden throughout the OASIS and pass through the matching gates will receive his fortune and controlling stake in Halliday’s company. This becomes known as the Hunt and people immediately begin the search for Halliday’s Easter Egg. Those searching for the Egg are referred to as “gunters,” a truncation of “egg hunters.” Gunters devote an enormous amount of time to studying 1980s pop culture, the decade Halliday grew up in and was perpetually obsessed with, in the hope it will assist them with locating and solving the puzzles involved with the Egg.

When we are introduced to the novel’s protagonist, Wade Watts (an allusion to the Marvel superhero, Deadpool), it is five years after this announcement of the hunt. A lonely Oklahoman teen, Wade goes by the name of Parzival (a reference to a Arthurian Poem from Germany) in the OASIS. Obsessed with cracking Halliday’s puzzle Wade spends the majority of his free time studying Halliday’s passions for all things ‘80s, from Galaga to Rush to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.

His journey spans the length and breadth of the OASIS, taking the you on a magical mystery tour to distant planets that are influenced by everything from Blade Runner to Back to the Future. Along the way he finds friendship, love, and the ultimate enemy in the shape of Innovative Online Industries, a powerful corporation who will stop at nothing to win the contest and turn the OASIS into a purely commercial destination.

Will Wade find the keys before the evil corporation? To find out stop by the library’s fiction shelves and grab a copy of Ready Player One. You can also continue reading after the jump for ways to watch the music, play the video games, and listen to the music referenced (or easter egged in the book).

Dungeons of Daggorath

  • Dungeons of Daggorath was a 1982 computer game and one of the first games to use a 3D wireframe first-person perspective. It was released as a ROMpak cartridge for the Color Computer, which limited the size of the code to a mere eight kilobytes. Despite the small size, the game features a multi-level maze and groundbreaking sound effects by Phil Landmeier that provide important clues to the locations of monsters.
  • Link to game –


  • zorkWill Crowther’s Adventure (c. 1975) was the prototype for text-based computer games organized as interactive stories, but in 1977 several students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) decided that they could write more sophisticated interactive fiction The result was Zork. Practically any computer science student at a major American university could play the game by logging in to MIT and Zork quickly gained cult status.
  • Link to game –

Rush – 2112

  • 2112 (pronounced “twenty-one twelve”), the fourth studio album by Canadian rock band, Rush, was a concept album based on the work of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand. Released in 1976, the album features an eponymous seven-part suite written by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, with lyrics written by Neil Peart telling a dystopian story set in the year 2112.
  • Request the DVD or CD –

Tempest – Atari 2600

  • Tempest is an arcade game by Atari Inc., originally designed and programmed by Dave Theurer. Released in October 1981, it was fairly popular and had several ports and sequels. The game is also notable for being one of the first video games with a selectable level of difficulty (determined by the initial starting level). The game is a tube shooter, a type of shoot ’em up where the environment is fixed and viewed from a three-dimensional perspective.
  • Link to game –

Joust (1982)

  • Joust is an arcade game developed by Williams Electronics and released in 1982. It is a platform game that features two-dimensional (2D) graphics. The player uses a button and joystick to control a knight riding a flying ostrich. The object is to progress through levels by defeating groups of enemy knights riding buzzards.
  • Play the game –


Blade Runner

  • A bleak science fiction film (1982) directed by Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, and set in Los Angeles in the year 2019. Ford plays a detective who is hunting down rogue androids or ‘ replicants’. The special police squads to which Ford belongs are called Blade Runner Units, whose job it is to ‘ retire’ (i.e. execute) replicants.
  • ‘ The Bladerunner’ was originally the title of a very different science fiction story by Alan E. Nourse, where smugglers called ‘ blade runners’ supply an impoverished society with medical supplies. William S. Burroughs wrote ‘ Bladerunner (A Movie)’ (1979) after reading Nourse’s book, though the name is the principal similarity between the stories. Hampton Fancher, the screenwriter for Ridley Scott’s movie, found Burroughs’ book and Scott liked it enough to adopt the title for the screenplay, buying the rights for the use of the name.
  • The story of the film is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (1928-82) entitled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), which won that year’s Nebula Award.
  • Check out the book or movie at the library –

Schoolhouse Rock

  • “Three Is a Magic Number” is the pilot episode of the Schoolhouse Rock! series and the first episode of the program’s first season, “Multiplication Rock.” The title song, written by Bob Dorough, and accompanying animated video were created after ad agency co-chairman David McCall observed that his son had learned every Beatles lyric but could not remember multiplication tables.
  • Find the complete Schoolhouse Rock at the Library –


  • Ladyhawke is a 1985 fantasy film directed by Richard Donner, starring Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, and Michelle Pfeiffer. In it a thief called “The Mouse” escapes the dungeons of medieval Aquila, setting in motion a chain of events that may save or destroy a beautiful woman and a brave captain. The two lovers are doomed to lifelong separation by a demonic curse invoked by the corrupt and jealous Bishop of Aquila: by day Isabeau is transformed into a hawk, while at night Navarre becomes a wolf. Imperius, the monk who betrayed them, has found a way to break the curse, but only if he and the Mouse can get them back into Aquila to face the Bishop.
  • Request Ladyhawke from a partnered library

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