For those who graduate Seton Hill University as the Class of 2019, the name “Ready Player One” probably sounds familiar. As for others, the name might only sound like a recent movie that’s showing in theaters and will be released on DVD this July.
“Ready Player One” was the last book to be read for the summer reading program at SHU, which was eliminated after the Class of 2019. Students were assigned a book over the summer and the SHU community would hold discussions in small groups about the themes and topics important to the book.
Ernest Cline, author of “Ready Player One,” tells a story about Wade Watts and his journey through the OASIS, a world created through virtual reality. James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, dies and leaves his inheritance to the first person to find a digital Easter egg that is hidden within the countless worlds. To access the egg, the player must first obtain three keys, which are rewarded after intense challenges. The contest is a true treasure hunt in the world of VR, while reality is at the brink of chaos in the year 2045.
“It was a lot different from anything that I had read previously,” said SHU forensic science major Haylee Schreiter.
As the last book to be read for SHU’s summer reading program, “Ready Player One” has now made its way to the big screen, which has stirred up past emotions of the book and new ideas from the movie.
Warning: Spoilers from here on!
“To have something take place entirely inside of a video game was really well thought out,” Schreiter said. “And I did love the entire hunt for just Easter eggs that the creator left behind.”
“I liked how difficult the challenges were to get the Easter eggs,” said SHU creative writing major Jessica Minneci. “You had to get the key first, then you had to solve another challenge to go through the gate. They didn’t do that in the movie. And all of the challenges were simpler because they needed to fit it into the two-hour film. But in the book, which is more immersive and fun, it was more difficult.”
Nicole Peeler, the head of the summer reading committee before the program was eliminated, said, “I loved the book. I thought the book, like all books, had more time to develop the themes. The book was more mature than the movie in some ways. I felt the movie was geared more towards a younger audience.” Often times with movies, there’s a need to cater to everybody and not just one set audience.
Schreiter said that the book discussion allowed her to experience the differences in opinions and viewpoints others had. Students who read the book before seeing the movie were able to see the differences between the two.
The movie had to be condensed like all movies that originate from books, but the hype of “Ready Player One” is there. What other movie can you find a gundam, Mecha Godzilla and the Iron Giant all in the same scene?
“The love story between Wade and Samantha or Parzival and Artemis was more outlined in the book,” Minneci said. “You saw both of them really fangirl over each other, about how much they knew about the ‘80s and how much they knew about Halliday, who was the founder of the OASIS.”
According to Minneci, the reader needs to go into both the book and movie with different expectations. “A lot of people walk into the theater and say ‘oh the OASIS is going to look like this,’ and it never does. It never lives up to your imagination.”
Minneci said the key is to approach both of them as separate entities because the movie is very different from the book.
“The OASIS did live up to my expectations. I liked the way it looked. Spielberg did a good job with the special effects,” Minneci said. The movie focuses on winning a game or competition, which is different than the coming-of-age story like it was in the book.
Those who have read the book and watched the movie would be the first to notice some of the major differences between the two. Besides the lack of an education establishment within the OASIS in the movie, the major differences come to the challenges and gates in the story. In the book, Cline wrote the first challenge for the copper key as an arcade classic, Joust, which was to be played after facing a Dungeons and Dragons like challenge. The second and third keys also came with some changes.
The movie replaced the copper key challenge with a high-speed race, which included deadly obstacles and unforgiving competitors, as well as changed the process Wade and the crew had to complete the other challenges to obtain the keys.
“If they would have kept some of the original challenges I would have liked it more,” Minneci said.
“Replacing the first quest with the race was more attention grabbing,” Schreiter said.
“I think the weakness of the movie is actually the same as the weakness in the book,” Peeler said. “Ready Player One” didn’t have a “huge emotional punch.” Peeler said the book has a lot of interesting ideas, “but I think a lot of the emotional stuff, like the reveals, who’s really who, they were kind of manufactured in a way.” However, Peeler said the movie did a credible job with some of the themes.
“It kind of relates to how we are now. We are all so absorbed in technology that sometimes we forget about the world around us,” Schreiter said. “With the strides we are taking through VR, I could see it in the future that we see suits and everything that would tap into our nerves so we could feel what is happening in the game.”
“Ready Player One” was a popular decision amongst the faculty and staff on the committee because of its inclusion of “everything,” Peeler said. “It had science, it had math, it had philosophy; it’s an ideas book. What they really brought out in the movie, and what was an important theme in the book is just our reliance on technology.”
According to Peeler, the story has a close relation to SHU because of the use of Apple products. “Any of this technology can be used for amazing ends and be used to teach empathy and it can widen our perspective,” said Peeler.
It can be difficult to overlook the differences and accept the book and movie as separate pieces, and often times there’s discussion over which is better.
“There’s nothing that replaces the feeling of having the book in your hands, and the texture of the pages between your fingers and having that nice book smell. You just crack open the book and you’re like,” Schreiter inhaled as if smelling a book, “dead trees and glue!”
Overall, the book and movie are both worth the time. “I went with someone who had not read the book and he loved it too, and he’s very picky,” Peeler said.
“They could have made it a three hour film,” Minneci said. “People would have sat through it.”
In the words of Halliday, the reading program found a “gem” for the Class of 2019, which can now be viewed as a two hour and nineteen minute film.
Published By: Stephen Dumnich