Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pac-Man Fever

On the back cover of Ready Player One, the reviewer blurbs are full of people I’ve never heard of, who have written books I’ve never seen. But, the first review is from Charlaine Harris, who wrote the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books. I don’t have the book in front of me, but her blurb says something like, “I don’t know anything about video games and I loved this book!” It’s an obvious bid to woo the ladies to read the book, but I’m with Charlaine.

The book focuses on a not-so-distant future, when everyone is plugged into a virtual world for most of the day and the real world has become a Mad Max kind of place. The creator of the virtual world, James Halliday, has died and his fortune is held in escrow until a gamer manages to find three keys and go through three gates. Halliday is obsessed with the 1980’s, so almost everyone in the world has become an expert on the decade. That, of course, was the hook for me. I wasn’t lost during the focus on gaming, but I certainly wasn’t enough of a geek to know programmer trivia or cheat codes for Pac-Man and I really don’t know much more about Dungeons and Dragons than the basics.

I’m going to tell you that the book was pretty long, and it focused on one main gamer who didn’t go outside for weeks at a time, his best friends who he’s never met in person, and an evil corporation determined to win Halliday’s inheritance and control of the virtual world. There’s endless 80’s pop culture references and the vast majority of the book is descriptions of a virtual landscape or games within the game. Ignore all that and read it anyway. It’s as engrossing as any adventure movie and moves just as fast.


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