Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

“Ready Player One,” written by Ernest Cline, is a story based in a not-so-distant future in which planet Earth has become a nasty end result of global warming, a lack of fossil fuels and constant warring and killing. In this world people choose to live out their lives inside a virtual gaming console known as the OASIS. Fear is presented in Ready Player One through the idea that people are afraid to face the reality of their situations. Ernest Cline uses the idea of hiding your true identity as well as living in a false reality to show how people can be afraid to accept the world around them as well as who they are as people. 

An example of where fear stops a person from presenting and exposing who they truly are is shown all throughout the book but more predominantly through the main character of the story, Wade Watts. Wade is the protagonist and narrator of the story and we see everything through his eyes. Wade presents himself and his situation, living in a poor and poverty stricken area of the US with his only escape from reality being the OASIS. Wade relishes in the fact that he is able to change his appearance and, to put it plainly, who he is, inside the OASIS. 

“I’d designed my avatars face and body to look, more or less, like my own. My avatar had a slightly smaller nose than me, and he was taller. And thinner. And more muscular. And he didn’t have any teenage acne. But aside from these minor details, we looked more or less identical.”

This quote from Wade identifies his lack of self-esteem and how he dislikes his own appearance and who he truly is and, out of fear of being judged, chooses to present himself as a different person inside the OASIS. 

“Online, I didn’t have a problem talking to people or making friends. But in the real world, interacting with other people – especially kids my own age – made me a nervous wreck.”

This quote shows how Wade dislikes the real him and chooses to present himself differently inside the OASIS. Because of this, he is able to make friends and easily interact with others in virtual reality. These two quotes present the idea that people can view the OASIS as an escape from their fear of presenting themselves as they truly are. This is a common theme in today’s society as well as in the story. 

In society today, we are constantly bombarded with media that presents us with an idea of how we should look and act and feel about the world. When we adhere to these ideas we feel good about ourselves. We feel as if we fit in with everyone else and being a part of a group makes us feel valued and wanted. If we don’t fit into these categories then we can become reclusive and feel bad about our body image and the way we act and the clothing we wear. Therefore we become afraid to not fit in and be apart from the crowd. 

Another example of fear presented in the story is through people being afraid to accept the reality of the world around them. In the book, we are presented with the idea that the world has gone to hell and, because of this, most people have gone to the OASIS to escape it. They choose to block out their problems and the fact that the climate is ruined, people are homeless and dying at alarming rates, crime is through the roof, etc. An example of this presented during the text is shown when Wade is having a conversation with his friends concerning what they’d do with a fortune of billions of dollars.  

“Don’t you want to build a huge interstellar spaceship, load it full of video games, junk food, and comfy couches, and then get the hell out of here?”

This quote shows how the people on Earth recognise the state of their world but would rather ignore it than bask in the existential dread knowing that the planet is dying and they will eventually go along with it. They choose instead to escape to the OASIS for a sense of comfort inside of a false reality. This is a common theme in the real world as well.

In our world, despite the fact that climate change is a very real and steadily impending threat to us and our planet, most of us choose not to do anything about it. We ignore the movement to act on it because we are afraid of the fact that our world is changing in such a big way. As individuals, the change we think we can make is minimal and therefore, ignore it. 
Throughout, “Ready Player One,” Ernest Cline presents the idea of fear by showing how people can be afraid to accept the world around them as well as who they are as people. Today we are so self conscious and not conscious enough about the world around us. I think that while we should care about our self image, it is nowhere near as important as using our might as a collective to change the world for the better.

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