I’m about a third of the way into Ready Player One. This is a reading experience not quite like any other because of the steady bursts of recognition/nostalgia/squee. The fictional James Halliday, the MMO-designing genius, is (was) exactly the same age I am. Since the entire conceit of the book is that the SFF, video games, and pop culture of his youth, and particularly his teen years, are the clues to the mysterious Easter eggs he has coded into the game, every page is one little dopamine hit after another. Oh I loved that show! I totally had that book! I rocked at that game! I still quote that film on a regular basis!
An unexpected side-effect of reading this book is that it makes me want to play games myself. I mean, that’s not much of a stretch: I’m already a gamer in a quiet, squeezed-into-the-interstices way. (Not long ago, I was on the phone with a friend, comparing notes about various family health issues and endless insurance hassles. “But how do you stay upbeat?” she wanted to know. “How do you keep from losing your mind over this stuff?” I answered in all seriousness: At night, after the kids are in bed, I SLAUGHTER ORCS.)
But what’s happening with this novel is that the more I read about the main character playing games within games as he hunts for Halliday’s hidden keys—and his repertoire includes all the good old-school games: Adventure, which I beat before anyone I knew did, and Pitfall, and Joust, oh, all of them, console and arcade alike—the more the kid plays, the stronger my urge to play, so suddenly I’m putting down the book and loading Warcraft. This is counterproductive to the actual reading of the book.
Not to mention counterproductive to the sleeping of the sleep!