OWL Magazine Korea

Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”

The work titled “Ready Player One” is likely perceived as a movie by South Koreans.

This work, in which the master of cinema Steven Spielberg participated in production, was released on March 28, 2018. Even before its release, the work garnered much attention, and it continued to attract global interest after its debut, showing a relatively successful performance.

The film utilized the background depicted in the novel while skillfully incorporating the author’s imaginative concepts into excellent visuals, receiving praise. The movie is based on the original novel, and it can be said that the content presented in the film and the novel are entirely different, to the extent that they may be considered different works with the same name.

“Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One”

The novel “Ready Player One” was written by Ernest Cline and published in 2012. Despite being published not long ago, it received considerable attention and love from the public. Thanks to this influence, it quickly became a film.

The author utilized elements that were popular in the 1980s in the work. By incorporating various elements such as novels, movies, and music that were popular at the time, the author stimulated readers nostalgic for the past. Moreover, the novel focuses on the “otaku culture” of the 1980s, primarily centered around “gaming.”

Now, almost forgotten games from the past are summoned one by one, evoking the memories we had in our childhood. These elements naturally expose us, now grown adults, to the memories of our childhood, turning us into “adult-children.”

By skillfully utilizing these “kidult” elements, the novel stimulated the emotions and nostalgia of adults, which contributed to its popularity upon release.

“A work set in a dystopian background in 2045”

The world in the novel is the world of the future. The appearance of humanity in 2045 is closer to a dystopian world far from hope. However, there is a device that allows people to enter a vibrant world. By wearing special equipment introduced in the novel, people can enter a world called “Oasis,” commonly referred to as the “metaverse.”

Although it is a virtual space, it is designed to feel almost identical to the real world. However, the difference from reality is that each area can utilize special elements. There are various zones where fantasy-like magic can be used or areas where advanced scientific technology operates, all tailored according to the concept by developers.

People live in the virtual space of “Oasis,” escaping from reality. In Oasis, people work to earn money, and students receive education. Additionally, people can enjoy adventuring and exploring the virtual space of Oasis.

Significant changes occur in the peaceful virtual space. James Halliday, the founder of “Oasis,” suddenly passes away, leaving a will. He leaves behind three missions hidden in the virtual reality of Oasis. Whoever passes these missions inherits the ownership of Oasis and a vast fortune. With this proposal, the real story of the novel begins.

“Missions introduced in the novel”

The film also adopts this format. While both mention the inheritance given to whoever completes three missions, the missions introduced in the novel and the film are entirely different.

In the movie, missions with a focus on “visual” aspects are more prevalent. However, since the novel is written textually and heavily reflects gaming culture from the past, it introduces missions such as playing classic games or participating as a character in old movies. Compared to the movie version, the novel tends to introduce more “static” missions.

“Missions introduced in the movie”

  1. Car race
  2. Participation in parts of horror movies
  3. Playing classic games

The movie highlights the first mission, a thrilling car race, early on to showcase the atmosphere of the virtual space called “Oasis.” However, as the movie progresses, the focus on these missions gradually diminishes.

“Missions in the novel”

The missions introduced in the novel are entirely different from those in the movie. The first mission is a game where Halliday, who had prearranged a competition against a well-programmed AI, challenges the protagonist with classic games from the past.

Following that, missions involving being a character in a movie and reciting the protagonist’s lines verbatim appear. Additionally, unlike the missions introduced in the movie, the novel includes many more smaller missions, creating anticipation for what mission the characters will receive next.

What’s interesting is that the games, movies, and music introduced as missions are all things that actually existed in the 1980s and were popular at the time. By incorporating elements that people genuinely enjoyed in the past, the novel captivates many people.

“You can see speed and excitement in the movie, while meticulousness is evident in the novel.”

Since movies need to satisfy audiences within a short time of about two hours, they have a fast-paced narrative with events flowing quickly. On the other hand, novels unfold at a slower pace. Therefore, the novel focuses on the protagonist’s psychological and environmental descriptions rather than rapidly progressing events.

Additionally, scenes where the protagonist deliberates and strategizes cannot be introduced in the movie, but they can be fully explored in the novel. The novel sufficiently highlights these scenes, faithfully depicting how the protagonist overcomes obstacles.

In particular, in the movie, it is presented that the protagonist’s ally and rival, Artemis, is kidnapped by “IOI.” However, in the original novel, it is set that Parzival himself voluntarily and strategically gets kidnapped by “IOI.”

“Nostalgic 1980s culture”

As mentioned above, the work is permeated with various elements that were popular in the 1980s. Therefore, for those who spent their childhood in the United States in the 1980s, it can be considered a nostalgic new work.

Moreover, for those who were deeply involved in otaku culture such as “gaming,” they may feel an even deeper resonance.

Personally, I read this book in its original English version rather than the Korean translated version. Most of the sentences are written in a straightforward and easy-to-understand style, with no particularly difficult vocabulary. However, the volume is substantial, with more than 580 pages. Therefore, it would be enjoyable to read it slowly, savoring each page.

“Ready Player One”