I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.
Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.
You're probably wondering what's going to happen to you. That's easy. The same thing is going to happen to you that has happened to every other human being who has ever lived. You're going to die. We all die. That's just how it is.
You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out.
Oh, and by the way … there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. Also bullshit. Sorry, kid Deal with it.
I felt like a kid standing in the world's greatest video arcade without any quarters, unable to do anything but walk around and watch the other kids play.
I watched a lot of YouTube videos of cute geeky girls playing '80s cover tunes on ukuleles. Technically, this wasn't part of my research, but I had a serious cute-geeky-girls-playing-ukuleles fetish that I can neither explain nor defend.
That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.
As we continued to talk, going through the motions of getting to know each other, I realized that we already did know each other, as well as any two people could. We’d known each other for years, in the most intimate way possible. We’d connected on a purely mental level. I understood her, trusted her, and loved her as a dear friend. None of that had changed, or could be changed by anything as inconsequential as her gender, or skin color, or sexual orientation.
I was watching a collection of vintage '80s cereal commercials when I paused to wonder why cereal manufacturers no longer included toy prizes inside every box. It was a tragedy, in my opinion. Another sign that civilization was going straight down the tubes.
She grinned. "Don't you want to build a huge interstellar spaceship, load it full of videogames, junk food, and comfy couches, and then get the hell out of here?" "I'm up for that, too," I said. "if it means I get to spend the rest of my life with you.
The Facts were right there waiting for me,hidden in old books written by people who weren't afraid to be honest.
Virtual sex, no matter how realistic, was really nothing but glorified, computer-assisted masturbation.
You know you've totally screwed up your life when your whole world turns to shit and the only person you have to talk to is your system agent software!.
I burned through all of my extra lives in a matter of minutes, and my two least-favorite words appeared on the screen: GAME OVER.
Continue your quest by taking the test Yes, but what test? What test was I supposed to take? The Kobayashi Maru? The Pepsi Challenge? Could the clue have been any more vague?.
If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game's two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It's just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.
So I'm supposed to believe you're one of those mythical guys who only cares about a woman's personality, and not about the package it comes in?.
Overall, she seemed to be going for a sort of mid-’80s postapocalyptic cyberpunk girl-next-door look. And it was working for me, in a big way. In a word: hot.
These three words were always the last thing an OASIS user saw before leaving the real world and entering the virtual one: READY PLAYER ONE.
I’d designed my avatar’s 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.
Lights," I said softly. This had become my favorite word over the past week. In my mind, it had become synonymous with freedom.
Now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists..
I never ran out of ammo, because each time I fired a round, a new round was teleported into the bottom of the clip. My bullet bill this month was going to be huge.
I’d come to see my rig for what it was: an elaborate contraption for deceiving my senses, to allow me to live in a world that didn’t exist. Each component of my rig was a bar in the cell where I had willingly imprisoned myself.
Some time later, she leaned over and kissed me. It felt just like all those songs and poems had promised it would. It felt wonderful. Like being struck by lightning.
So now the polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and the weather is all messed up. Plants and animals are dying off in record numbers, and lots of people are starving and homeless. And we’re still fighting wars with each other, mostly over the few resources we have left.
Standing there, under the bleak fluorescents of my tiny one-room apartment, there was no escaping the truth. In real life, I was nothing but an antisocial hermit. A recluse. A pale-skinned pop culture–obsessed geek. An agoraphobic shut-in, with no real friends, family, or genuine human contact. I was just another sad, lost, lonely soul, wasting his life on a glorified video game.
The once-great country into which I'd been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn't matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it.
Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.
The ability to mute my peers was one of my favorite things about attending school online, and I took advantage of it almost daily. The best thing about it was that they could see that you’d muted them, and they couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
The Firefly universe was anchored in a sector adjacent to the Star Wars galaxy, with a detailed re-creation of the Star Trek universe in the sector adjacent to that.
It's chick flick disguised as a sword-and-sorcery picture. The only genre film with less balls is probably... freakin' Legend. Anyone who actually enjoys Ladyhawke is a bona fide USDA-choice pussy!.
Before long, billions of people around the world were working and playing in the OASIS every day. Some of them met, fell in love, and got married without ever setting foot on the same continent. The lines of distinction between a person’s real identity and that of their avatar began to blur. It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame.
Other virtual worlds soon followed suit, from the Metaverse to the Matrix. The Firefly universe was anchored in a sector adjacent to the Star Wars galaxy, with a detailed re-creation of the Star Trek universe in the sector adjacent to that. Users could now teleport back and forth between their favorite fictional worlds. Middle Earth. Vulcan. Pern. Arrakis. Magrathea. Discworld, Mid-World, Riverworld, Ringworld. Worlds upon worlds.
It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame.
When it came to my research, I never took any shortcuts. Over the past five years, I’d worked my way down the entire recommended gunter reading list. Douglas Adams. Kurt Vonnegut. Neal Stephenson. Richard K. Morgan. Stephen King. Orson Scott Card. Terry Pratchett. Terry Brooks. Bester, Bradbury, Haldeman, Heinlein, Tolkien, Vance, Gibson, Gaiman, Sterling, Moorcock, Scalzi, Zelazny.
That there was nothing so wrong in the world that we couldn’t sort it out by the end of a single half-hour episode (or maybe a two-parter, if it was something really serious).