Ready Player One
Wade Watts is a teenager who lives in a slum with his aunt. He attends school within the OASIS but lacks the virtual currency or XP levels to travel to other locations. He is a "gunter" (an egg hunter) who spends all his spare time researching films, songs, TV series, and videogames from the 1980s and '90s to aid his hunt. The hunt has been going on for five years, yet no one has been able to find the first key (the Copper Key). Then Wade, who goes by the avatar name Parzival, stumbles upon the possibility that the first clue (known for containing a Dungeons & Dragons reference) refers to the virtual school planet Ludus (on which he is stuck) and after defeating an NPC character at Joust, is given the Copper Key which unlocks the First Gate, and a clue about where to find it and how to access it (by beating the video game Dungeons of Daggorath in a recreation of Halliday's own bedroom). This places him in a simulation of the film WarGames in which he has to recreate the lines of the lead character. After clearing the Gate, he is awarded points and his avatar's name appears on the previously empty scoreboard. His avatar becomes famous within the OASIS, as does his friend Aech and another gunter named Art3mis who clear the Gate shortly after him. He takes advantage of his fame, endorsing virtual products for credits, and develops a tentative relationship with Art3mis. He is approached by Nolan Sorrento, an executive from Innovative Online Industries (IOI), who want to control the OASIS. Sorrento offers Wade a lucrative job to help IOI finish the hunt, but after Wade refuses, they attempt to assassinate him. The hunt for the egg continues, with two Japanese hunters named Daito and Shoto gaining points. However, after Wade asks Art3mis out on a date at the Distracted Globe virtual nightclub on planet Neonoir and admits his love for her, Art3mis cuts him off and stops speaking to him, leading to Wade becoming increasingly isolated. Art3mis obtains the Jade Key, followed by Aech, who also gives Parzival a hint about its location. IOI, who had been monitoring Art3mis and Aech's whereabouts using OASIS items, also discover its location. Shortly after, Parzival, Daito, and Shoto also reach the Jade Key (by collecting nineteen treasures in a replica of Zork) but Daito is killed by IOI in real life while helping Shoto find the Jade Key. Sorrento becomes the first person to find and clear the Second Gate by using a Voight-Kampff machine in the Tyrell Building to enter a 3D version of Black Tiger. Clearing the Second Gate gives a clue to the location of the Crystal Key. Sorrento finds the Key first, but Parzival, Art3mis, Aech and Shoto all clear the Second Gate and find the Crystal Key too. Eventually, the Third Gate is discovered by IOI (located inside Castle Anorak on the planet Chthonia) who are unable to open it, having missed a previous clue saying that the Gate cannot be opened by a single avatar, but by three instead. They barricade the location with an impenetrable force field, so Wade infiltrates the real-world headquarters of IOI, accesses their databases, and plants a booby-trap to bring down the force field from within. He enlists the help of all the gunters in the OASIS to launch a coordinated assault on the corporate forces, while he, Aech and Art3mis activate the Third Gate. During the battle a doomsday device is activated by IOI, killing every avatar in the sector, but Parzival had unknowingly gained an extra life artifact earlier in a side-quest and survives. While the sector is empty he solves the final puzzle, clears the gate and claims the egg. He gains control of the OASIS, including the ability to switch it off forever, by pressing the "Big Red Button" hidden in Anorak’s study. In real life, Sorrento is arrested for his crimes while Parzival and Art3mis finally meet in person and kiss.