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Ready Player One Book Club, Part 3 – Opening the second gate

This is Part 3 of Nerdvana’s Ready Player One Book Club. Be sure to check out parts 1 and 2. There are some heavy spoilers here, so if you haven’t read this part of the book yet, come back when you’re done. It’s cool. I’ll wait. I’m a patient guy. Thanks for reading!

Ready Player One Book Club, Part I

Ready Player One Book Club, Part 2 – Opening the first gate

After Wade opens the first gate, some unique developments occur. First, he comes face-to-face with the “villain” of the story, Nolan Sorrento, head of the Oology division of IOI Inc. Sorrento tries to coerce Wade into telling them how to clear the gate and offers Wade a substantial amount of money for his services. When Wade refuses, Sorrento threatens his life and Wade discovers just how much IOI knows about him. He still doesn’t want to work with them and tells Sorrento to leave him alone. In response, Sorrento blows up Wade’s house.

Thankfully, our hero was safely ensconced in his hideout and narrowly missed being blown to smithereens. Unfortunately, his aunt and friends in The Stacks were casualties of Sorrento’s bomb. From here, Wade leaves town and continues his hunt for the Easter Egg. The clues for the Jade Key point to blowing some kind of whistle once all the trophies are collected.

Ready Player OneHe’s having some difficulty finding the hiding place of the Jade Key and becomes distracted by a blooming romance with fellow Gunter Art3emis. As they get to know each other and begin spending as much time as possible together, Wade falls for her. When they’re invited to a party hosted by Ogden Morrow — The Great and Powerful Og — Wade ends up confessing his feelings for her, just before a Sixer army breaks into Og’s party and starts to wreck the place.

After this, Art3emis breaks things off with Wade and he falls into a slump. He begins looking for the Jade Key once more and discovers Ar3emis got there first. Unfortunately, it’s a race against time now, because the Sixers have a convenient little artifact which allows them to find the exact location of any avatar once per day. Aech comes to the rescue, giving Wade a tip to look for the planet Frobozz. At some point prior to this, Wade finds himself on a museum planet called Arcade and plays a perfect game of Pac-Man, winning a quarter that doesn’t seem to do much (this becomes quite important later in the story). He also figures out — from watching old cereal commercials — that the whistle to which the clues refer is a toy that was once included in a box of Captain Crunch. The whistle was used by John Draper to hack phone systems around the time it came out.

Wade finds the planet and realizes the second challenge is centered around the old text-adventure game Zork. I remember playing this game on my old IBM PC. I’m old.

Wade must complete a 3-D version of Zork and find a box of Captain Crunch containing the whistle as a toy surprise. He succeeds and blows the whistle, obtaining the Jade Key. Then, it takes him forever to figure out where the second gate is located. The clue — “continue your quest by taking the test” — is difficult for Wade to deduce at first, but he finally makes the connection to Blade Runner and finds a replica of the Tyrell Building where the Voight-Kampf tests are. It isn’t difficult to find; the building is part of the default resources in the OASIS world building software. Neat. Wade “takes the test” by placing the Jade Key in the machine, opening the gate.

The second gate is a virtual reality recreation of the arcade game Black Tiger — one of Halliday’s favorite games. Wade plays through and conquers it, winning a giant robot and a clue for the third gate: a red star symbol. Wade recognizes it immediately as a symbol from Rush’s 2112 album and feels more confident about the hunt.

Then, all Hell breaks loose when he learns Sorrento and his team have already obtained the Crystal Key …

Overall, this section of the book is exciting and moves the story along well. The reader is exposed to passing mentions of several pop culture elements and fully immersed in others. I thought the perfect game of Pac-Man was a nice touch and I enjoyed the giant robots and Wade’s obsession with an obscure Japanese live-action show called Supaidaman. These silly, near-o qualities are definitely a part of what makes the character easy to relate to for me, but that may have the opposite effect on others. His interpersonal interactions need some work and the death of one of the characters (I won’t tell you who) sets up the third act of the story nicely. Wade also indulges in some nerd fantasy with his Max Headroom-modeled main computer, his Firefly class ship, The Vonnegut and his asteroid. That’s right; Wade has his own asteroid homebase and a popular TV station within the OASIS itself. Interesting.

If you want to re-create the challenges from the book, you can either boot up an ancient computer for a nice game of Zork or you can simply play it online here. Eat a bowl of Captain Crunch and watch this video of John Draper demonstrating the whistle.

Then, read this amazing piece at the Online Telephone Museum about the Bosun Whistle. 

After that, watch Blade Runner. It’s available in several versions, but my personal favorite is the Director’s CutFeel free to debate this preference with me. I’m always up for a healthy debate about cyberpunk and sci-fi.

Finally, play a game of Black Tiger. It’s available online in various forms. It was known in Japan as Black Dragon. It’s a blast to play, though quite tough. It’s also one of author Ernest Cline’s favorite video games. If you’re old enough to remember playing this in the arcades, then it’ll bring back some memories. If you’re new to the title, congratulations on being able to experience such a great title for the first time. You’re in good company!

Before doing any of that, however, you’ll want to visit the planet Arcade for a game of Pac-Man. Pac-Man is available everywhere, in numerous forms. Good luck on achieving a perfect game. If you do, post a screenshot in the comments. I’d love to hear from you and learn a few tips and tricks. That’s it for now! Join us next time for the thrilling conclusion of Ready Player One.

Some parting words

Wow, that was a pretty long, drawn-out recap of a book you’ve probably already read a few times. Am I a nerd or what? Are you a fan of Ready Player One? Want to discuss VR? Shoot us a message or comment below. We’d love to hear from you. Nerdvana also has a Patreon campaign, so check that out if you get a chance. Thanks for visiting!

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About the author

David Buck

David Buck is an author, musician, copywriter, and voice over artist based in Colorado. His work has appeared on Nerdvana Media, The Nintendo Times, Star, EN World, SyFy Wire and across the web. In his spare time, he composes music, writes science fiction, and paints miniatures.