The distinctly religious feel to “Ready Player One” becomes more evident as the book goes on. The story involves a mission given by the creator of the world, a miraculous resurrection, and at the end Wade is God-like powers; he is “immortal and all powerful” within OASIS. He is even given the ability to destroy the world if he deems it fit. The oddity of the book is that Wade’s journey to find the divine, takes place against the backdrop of nerdom, a fringe subculture which is generally marginalized, and certainly not given the level of seriousness of cultural significance as other subcultures like counter culture movement of the 60’s for instance. The book’s charm rests on marrying its highly traditionally religious themes, with the jaded attitude of geeks and gamers, (My favorite part of the book is when Halliday says to Wade “Pretty sweet, huh?” right after giving him what amounts to omnipotence.) which asks the reader to consider geek culture with more significance than they are typically asked to do.
The problem is, I’m not sure if geek culture, and the gaming community in particular is ready to be taken this seriously. In my research I’ve discovered a culture which is so hyper aware of its marginalized place in society that they become dismissive of any attempt at legitimate analysis. For instance, I’ve now read a few different articles which mention how ludonarrative dissonance, the phenomenon of a game’s actions not matching its narrative themes, is a pretentious term (see the article below). But in truth the name arises naturally out of the meaning of the concept. It’s a big phrase, but there’s nothing unnecessarily complex about it, so it seems strange that the words letter count has garnered almost as much attention as its meaning. This is just one small instance of a feature of gaming culture I’ve noticed over the duration of this course: A distaste of analysis. It seems the general attitude of the gaming community is ‘it’s just a game, and if you’re thinking too hard about it, then you’re doing something wrong.’ But the community won’t be taken seriously until it is willing to subject itself to the analytical scrutiny that other technologies and narrative are continuously undergo. Though it might be the case that such intellectual scrutiny would take a good deal of the fun from gaming.