The world of Ready Player One

So, just to be clear: this is not intended to be a review of the book.  There are plenty of them, and as this book (and its sequel, even) are no longer in the zeitgeist,  so if you're looking for a more review-y article, you might want to find something else.

I like the book, but find that it's got a few fatal flaws that are hard to ignore once I've read it; it's a good premise but bad implementation.

If you have not read it, it's centered around a post-modern world where fossil fuels are expensive and mostly not available, and the cost of running modern society is no longer able to be paid by society because there is no reasonable source of cheap energy to make it function.

This book is often called post-apocalyptic but a collapse we cause that destroys modern-day capitalism is not an apocalypse unless the only thing of concern in your life is how much stuff you have and how much shareholder value you're generating.

This is not to say that the world is pleasant, nice, or otherwise particularly redeeming: you can see the worst of human nature leak through in the narrator's approach to describing his life living in a stack of trailers, the ongoing wars over resources, and the fact that the ultimate premise of the book is a treasure hunt which is attempting to be subverted by a rival company.

Clearly, the societal bonds that tie us together have completely fractured and it's everyone for themselves, and grab as much as possible on the way out.

The OASIS, however, is not the paradise that Wade makes it out to be.  Frankly, it sounds like a completely horrid environment to spend all of your time in: most people are there because they have no other choice, and everything is monetized.

Much like modern video games, there are purchases for special clothes, avatar customization, and even entire virtual planets.

That doesn't sound too bad, except you also have to buy ammunition and fuel and pay for any travel you do.  The 'escape from reality' is nothing but a cheap ploy to empty your wallet by charging you for everything you're doing while logged into the OASIS. Which is odd: the premise of the game is that essentially everyone is dead broke and modern society is collapsing, yet somehow everyone has money to spend in this virtual world, to the point it's become almost a global replacement for real interaction?

Worse, this is a world where perma-death is a reality.  If you die, you die, and everything you've gathered (which costs money) plops on the ground free for anyone to come along and take, as well as resetting you to level 1 and forcing you to start from nothing and keeping your previous investment in time and money.

This is not something that would EVER take over the world: I've played online games for literal decades and I can assure you the #1 past-time in the OASIS wouldn't be hunting easter eggs, giving virtual blowjobs, shopping, or doing quests, it would be baiting people out of safe zones to gank them and loot their corpses.  

You literally wouldn't be able to set foot out of a safe zone without immediately getting murdered by roving gangs of players who are higher level than you.  If you've ever played World of Warcraft and tried to level in Stranglethorn Vale with PVP on, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Further, the major point of contention is that if IOI wins, they'll turn this cash grab into a theme park with such dastardly things as ads and a monthly access fee? I'm not really following how this makes the OASIS worse since it's already endlessly in your wallet.

Worse, the presentation of the quest is absolutely nonsensical.  Either GSS has the worst source control policies of any corporation I've ever seen, or it would have taken about 5 minutes to look at the commit logs and find out exactly what was added and sold to the highest bidder.

Sure, sure, you can make the argument nobody has access to that data and the GSS employees were loyal to a man who would show up, scream at them, and fire them if they didn't know a quote from a random movie that was released 30 years before they were born, and who nobody had seen for ages as he lay dying, but I don't buy it. Someone at GSS would take the money given that the antagonist seems perfectly willing to spend whatever it takes, and do whatever is needed to win.

Social engineering is and has always been, the easiest way to get around security defenses and at the world-changing value of the prize that we're talking about here there would be several someones you could buy. Think about it: if someone approached you, and offered you enough generational wealth in a world that's falling apart to shield you, your family, and even your children's children from the worst of it and all you had to do was tell them where to find 3 things in a video game, would you at least consider it for more than half a second?

And there lies the crux of why I like the world, but hate the narration: this is a world that's firmly collapsed with little to no hope of recovery and where essentially nobody plays by the rules to get what they want: Wade clearly indicates there's limited to no law enforcement, roving gangs of armed bandits, and crime is both random and impersonal and also perpetuated by your family members, to the point that it's actively expected and tolerated, if not condoned.

True to the nature of the world we're presented, IOI also doesn't always play by the rules: they're happy to bomb homes, and have a little bit of happy defenestration action when it suits them but treat the online world and its meatspace inhabitants as things that intersect but can't be exploited to get what they want from one in the other.

So ultimately, why would you even remotely believe that there are some lines a murderous corporation won't cross, simply because they're in a video game?