Steven Spielberg tackles both the past and the future in Ready Player One, which hits US theaters on March 29. The adaptation of Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel, which has been described as Willy Wonka meets The Matrix, depicts a future where an energy crisis has ravaged the world. Set in 2044, the world is in dire straits, and people have found refuge in a virtual world called OASIS.

The story revolves around a teenager named Wade Watts, who is obsessed with OASIS and its founder, James Halliday. Though he lives in poverty, Watts finds a second life through his OASIS persona, Parzival. Using his knowledge of Halliday and retro pop culture, Watts sets out on a treasure hunt within the OASIS to claim a prize that could give him a real future.

The world of Ready Player One is rich and layered. It’s not an easy story to sum up, even though it’s not overly complicated. It’s just that a lot of it, despite the nostalgic bent, is new. Let’s break down the key components of the story and the wonderful world of Ready Player One, starting with the hero.

1. Who Is Parzival?


[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Ready Player One focuses on a brilliant teenager named Wade Watts. Tye Sheridan plays Watts, whose OASIS avatar Parzival will be realized as a CGI character. While it may sound convoluted, Watts and Parzival are essentially the same person. They may look different, but Parzival is simply a character controlled by Watts within OASIS.

Dual identity aside, Watts is a pretty typical teenager. He goes to school, he lives in Oklahoma and he’s obsessed with ’70s, ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture. In particular, he’s obsessed with OASIS creator James Halliday’s favorite movies, TV shows, and games. Watts’s knowledge may seem superfluous, but it comes into play while he searches for a fabled Easter Egg hidden within OASIS by Halliday. (More on that later). On his quest for the egg, Watts meets another OASIS user, Art3mis, who catches his eye. Watts is also accompanied on his trip through OASIS by his best friend Aech (pronounced like the letter “H”), whom he has never met in real life.

2. What Is The OASIS?

OASIS serves as the main creative centerpiece for the story, and is the world in which Wade’s adventure takes place. OASIS was originally created by Halliday as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The OASIS soon evolved into an online society, expanding into an enormous universe filed with thousands of worlds. The world of the OASIS is a completely immersive experience, where users control their virtual selves with the use of visors and haptic technology, allowing them to experience the world on a physical level. Because of the dismal state of the real world, most people live their lives within the OASIS.

3. Who Is James Halliday?


[Credit: Warner Bros.]

James Halliday is a key figure in Ready Player One even though he dies long before the story begins. He was a Steve Jobs-type tech genius who, with the help of best friend Ogden Morrow, created the OASIS and its parent company, Gregarious Simulation Systems (GSS). Halliday’s love for pop culture became legendary to his fans, and as a result references to and direct recreations of Halliday’s favorite stuff can be found throughout the OASIS. The main plot of Ready Player One is driven by a treasure hunt plotted by Halliday inside the OASIS. The hunt, and its corresponding prize, are Halliday’s Easter Egg. Just to add another layer, Halliday also had an OASIS avatar that went by the handle Anorak.

4. What Is Halliday’s Easter Egg?


[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Before he died, James Halliday recorded his will. He had no family, so he requested the message be displayed everywhere in the OASIS. The broadcast announced the presence of an Easter egg hidden inside OASIS, and that the first person to find it would inherit his entire fortune and GSS. This would make whoever found it a billionaire, as well as the propriety owner of the OASIS.

The Easter egg is a singular object, but three gates lead to it, with a key required to open each gate. Each key and gate pair can be found by deciphering clues left by Halliday. Naturally, various bits of pop culture knowledge are important to these puzzles. Five years pass after the announcement before the first key is discovered by Parzival. Although normal users like Wade Watts are searching for the Easter Egg, a large corporation, the IOI, wants the treasure, too.

5. What Is The IOI?

The Innovative Online Industries (IOI) serves as the main antagonist of Ready Player One. The company is led by CEO Nolan Sorrento, and wants to control and monetize the OASIS. The company is the world’s largest internet service provider, with an army of employees scouring OASIS for the treasure. In fact, Sorrento created a specific IOI department known as the “Oology Division,” dedicated to finding the Easter Egg. The IOI and Sorrento are ruthless and will do anything in their power to acquire OASIS and GSS.

See Ready Player One when it hits theaters on March 29, 2018. Check out the Movie Info below to set a reminder to buy tickets as soon as they go on sale!