As I’ve written before, one of my very favourite things about being a geek is the sense that we have our own secret language made up of enthusiasm and references to old Simpsons episodes. Geek culture celebrates everything that you might be into just because you’re the one who’s into it. It may be daunting to step inside that world but once you do, you’ll find yourself really a part of something with good people and good times ahead.
Never have I have more re-affirmed about this than when I’d finished reading Ready Player One, a book about that sense of community and what its members can achieve just by keeping their eyes and ears open.
Set in a bleak future where man has just about ravaged planet Earth, people prefer to plug into the OASIS to escape their daily lives. The OASIS is a worldwide virtual reality system which remains just about the purest form of diversion on the planet; its users can take classes, play games and socialise normally – like a much more advanced form of The Sims.
When OASIS co-creator James Halliday passes away, he puts into effect an epic quest for his Easter Egg – the hidden feature inside the game which will give its finder his entire fortune and with it, the chance to live in king-like luxury for the rest of their lives, away from the worries of scavengers and everything else. After the initial fevered search by players around the world dies off, the egg hunters, or Gunters as they are known, have just about given up on the quest until a young determined adventurer named Wade Owen Watts stumbles across the first clues thanks to all his time spent avoiding his own crappy life by obsessively researching Halliday’s life and interests.
What follows is an engrossing and funny piece of escapism that proudly wears its Geek badge on its sleeve. If you’re not really up on your 80s pop references then don’t worry about it too much – these sorts of references and jokes only add an extra layer of material to what’s already a warm and engaging story.
One of those references is exactly what sealed it for me though – a line from a semi-obscure song that I’d been left humming for the rest of the day. Any geeks-in-waiting should track down Ready Player One and enjoy that same sense of belonging that I did.