I remember the first time I read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and how curious I was to discover and learn more about Art, Novels and obscure references used by the author.
This same feeling hit me when I was reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. When so much work goes into one novel, it is impossible to not want to learn more, to understand all of the references and to “educate” yourself on all of the 80s pop culture present in the book.
Also, I made the best decision ever to read the book before watching the movie. Even though Ready Player One plot was changed drastically for the movie script, I enjoyed little Easter Eggs added specifically to the movie, like Harley Quinn and the Joker, Chucky, Lara Croft, and many others. Blizzard games received some special attention and a few characters were featured in the movie, namely Space Marine from StarCraft and Tracer from Overwatch.
Also, how crazy was it to see Batman climbing Mount Everest? A planet dedicated exclusively to Minecraft?! and Parzival riding an iconic Delorean from Back to the Future!
I hope your inner geek will appreciate all of the subtle references, and completely immerse into the world of OASIS for the whole duration of the movie.
Today we are going to talk about the most iconic games mentioned in the book/movie. Starting with Dungeons of Daggorath.
«Halliday had written in Anorak’s Almanac that Dungeons of Daggorath was the game that made him decide he wanted to become a video game designer.» – Parzival
What did Dungeon of Daggorath look like?
It was one of the first real-time role-playing video games, developed by DynoMicro and released in 1982, using angled lines to portray a three-dimensional space. The players had to type in the commands, for example, TURN LEFT, TURN RIGHT or T L, T R to move around the Dungeon.
Another game worth mentioning is Pac Man. We don’t see it in the movie, but in the book, it plays a rather important role. I think all of you are familiar with or heard of Pac Man, especially after the Pixels movie with Adam Sandler released in 2015.
It was first created in Japan in the early 1980s and only afterward made its way to the American and later international markets. A little yellow round blob has become the most known arcade game, represented on various merch items together with the quintessential ghosts.
Joust was another important game, not just mentioned by our main character but played by him for many years that eventually became one of his favorite games. An arcade game, Joust, was one of the first two-player cooperative games. The concept is pretty basic, you are a yellow knight on an ostrich, flying / jumping from one platform to another you must defeat various “waves” of enemies riding buzzards.
The cooperative mode of this game allows the other player to other join you in the battle against the swarm of knights on buzzards or play against you and try to acquire more points.
The next game was another one of Halliday’s favorites, Black Tiger or better known in Japan as Black Dragon, first represented on a painting of black Dragon that Anorak, Halliday’s avatar had in his study. This arcade game consists of jumping from platform to platform, avoiding different enemies and try to obtain the most points/coins. Saving “wise men” can prove to be helpful sometimes unless the only reward you get is an advice!
Another interactive game, similar to Dungeons of Daggorath that also played a big role in both book and movie of Ready Player One was Zork. The game was produced in the late 70s and split into three expansions – Zork: The Great Underground Empire; Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz and Zork III: The Dungeon Master, released in 1980 to 1983.
Zork stood out amongst other games because of the more elaborate plot, but most importantly because the game was designed to not only recognize simple commands like “take sword” but also some prepositions. Players finally could give more precise and direct commands to their avatars, for example: “look under the rug” or “drop all except Elvish sword”.
And finally, we HAVE to talk about Adventure, a maze solving adventure game for Atari 2600 consoles. One of the most iconic games of its time, Adventure was included in classic Atari 2600 game collections.
The player in this game is represented by a simple square. You have to go from chambers to chambers, from catacombs to catacombs of White and Black Castles, locate the Enchanted Chalice stolen by an evil magician and return it to where it belongs – Golden Castle.
What interested me the most was the fact that Ernest Cline used Adventure’s Easter Egg in his book full of Easter Eggs! Isn’t that impressive?
The programmer of Adventure, Warren Robinette, hid a single Grey Dot in one of the catacombs that the players could bring this pixel to a specific room and a message would pop up – Created by Warren Robinett.
These are all video games we will be talking about today. The list of game, movie and music references in Ready Player One is unbelievably huge. It will take multiple re-reads and contribution of various readers/video game enthusiasts to be able to compile the COMPLETE list of Easter Eggs.
What references were you excited about either in the book or in the movie?
P.S. Watching the movie with someone who is equally nerdy was an absolute bliss. Spotting the references, elbowing each other during epic moments or just giggling at the random appearance of Tracer from Overwatch!