Nostalgia and RL


I finished reading Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One today. I checked it out for the Kindle from the North Carolina Digital Library (which made me feel super cool and “future is now!” and everything, fitting pretty well with the book). I hope Mr. Cline doesn’t mind that I didn’t pay anything for it…

It took me about five days to finish the book, which is a pretty good clip for me, these days. And I really enjoyed it. It’s not that the world of Ready Player One is particularly original, or even that the characters are that interesting–it is, and they are, but not any more than those of most books–but that Cline’s ability to capture the love and nostalgia for the 1980s is superhuman.

I was born in the ’80s, so I’m really a child of the ’90s. That’s the era in which I did most of my formative obsessing: listening to music (The Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Dinosaur Jr.), playing games (any and all Zelda games, Final Fantasy, and, of course, Dungeons & Dragons), watching loads of movies (I worked as a projectionist and in a video rental store), pining after girls, etc. But I have–had, even then–a healthy respect for the culture of the ’80s, including many things that Cline touches upon in his book. So I ate up every reference to WarGames and Pac-Man and 80’s arcade culture.

Another amazing and dangerous thing is that the instant I was finished with the novel, I began to miss my time in Azeroth. I’ve only ever played one MMORPG and, like most other gamers, it was World of Warcraft. There was something in Cline’s descriptions of Parzival and his friends’ exploits throughout OASIS that made me long for those days where some guildmates and I would work together to bring down a difficult dungeon boss. That teamwork and camaraderie is so often missing from day-to-day RL. Which is, of course, why it is so damned attractive. And dangerous.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go play some Zork.


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