Are you a Gunter? Trying to master all the video games referenced in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline? Are you looking for a complete list of all the video games mentioned in Ready Player One? Or, do you just want to play the Top 10?
Here’s the Ready Player One Top Ten list of video games followed by the Ready Player One full list of video games:
***WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD***
As Art3mis complained, “Why couldn’t it be Centipede? Or Ms. Pac-Man? Or BurgerTime? Then I’d probably have already cleared the First Gate by now!”
Parzival runs across a family portrait of James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, in a replica of Halliday’s boyhood home. Though taken at the local Kmart in 1984, mom and dad Halliday were still dressed in late-70’s fashions.
Guess what was emblazoned across the young Halliday’s faded t-shirt? Asteroids!
Want to be a walking Ready Player One Easter Egg? Get your own faded Asteroids t-shirt:
8. The Empire Strikes Back
Though maybe not the greatest game on the list, The Empire Strikes Back Atari game deserves mention if only because it’s Star Wars.
The Empire Strikes Back Atari game was among a list of video games that all Gunters knew by heart. In every replica of Halliday’s bedroom, beside a bulky Zenith television with an Atari 2600 connected to it, there was a shoebox containing nine game cartridges: Combat, Space Invaders, Pitfall, Kaboom!, Star Raiders, The Empire Strikes Back, Starmaster, Yars’ Revenge, and E.T.
Between Space Invaders, Star Raiders, and Starmaster, it seems like there’s a lot of hinting at Star Wars.
Also, just in case the Star Wars saga is still missing your collection:
Parzival finds himself suddenly transported to a 1980s video arcade where he is playing Galaga. He soon discovers that he stuck in the movie WarGames and he is supposed to play the part of “Lightman” played by Matthew Broderick:
I found myself standing in an old video arcade, playing Galaga. The game was already in progress. I had double ships and a score of 41,780 points. I glanced down and saw that my hands were on the controls. After a second or two of disorientation, I reflexively began to play, moving the joystick left just in time to avoid losing one of my ships. (Ready Player One, p. 108)
I hope somebody does develop Halliday’s invention in real life. Living inside a classic 1980s movie is sort of a dream of mine, too — maybe I could be “Brian Johnson” from Breakfast Club? Atreyo from The NeverEnding Story? Who am I kidding? I would need to be Luke Skywalker. (Artificial) hands down.
WarGames, by the way, is an 80s classic that bears watching and re-watching and … would you just play tic-tac-toe already:
6. Anorak’s Quest
The only video game on the list that isn’t real … yet … is Anorak’s Quest. Anorak’s Quest was the game that started it all and vaulted Ogden Morrow and James Halliday into video game prominence:
Morrow and Halliday decided to start their own videogame company, Gregarious Games, which initially operated out of Morrow’s basement. Halliday programmed new versions of Anorak’s Quest for the Atari 800XL, Apple II, and Commodore 64 computers, and Morrow began placing ads for the game in the back of several computer magazines. Within six months, Anorak’s Quest became a national bestseller. (Ready Player One, p. 54)
5. Dig Dug
Dig Dug also figured prominently in the second season of Stranger Things. That’s probably the only reason it’s so high on this list.
Not much in Ready Player One about Dig Dug, though, except Parzival’s “Action Bonus”:
I started to follow [the WarGames movie-game], then remembered to run back and grab my notebook off of the Dig Dug game, just like David had in the movie. As I did this, my score jumped another 100 points, and ACTION BONUS! appeared on my display. (Ready Player One, p. 110)
Parzival must duel Acererak to receive the first key. The weapon of choice? Joust!
As Parzival describes:
Joust was a classic ’80s arcade game with a strange premise. Each player controls a knight armed with a lance. Player One is mounted on an ostrich, while Player Two is mounted on a stork. You flap your wings to fly around the screen and “joust” with the other player, and also against several computer-controlled enemy knights (who are all mounted on buzzards). When you crash into an opponent, whoever’s lance is higher on the screen wins the joust. The loser is killed and loses a life. Whenever you kill one of the enemy knights, his buzzard craps out a green egg that quickly hatches into another enemy knight if you don’t scoop it up in time. There’s also a winged pterodactyl that appears once in a while to wreak havoc. (Ready Player One, p. 81)
3. Dungeons of Daggorath
Halliday has created an entire planet of replicas of his Ohio boyhood home in Ohio: Middletown. This is probably also a reference to Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.
In one of the Middletowns inside a meticulously-rendered replica of Halliday’s bedroom, Parzival had found a replica of Halliday’s first computer, a TRS-80 Color Computer 2. There, he had played Dungeons of Daggorath.
As mentioned in the second line of text inscribed on the Copper Key: On the deepest level of Daggorath.
Dagorath was a word in Sindarin, the Elvish language J. R. R. Tolkien had created for The Lord of the Rings. The word dagorath meant “battle,” but Tolkien had spelled the word with just one “g,” not two. “Daggorath” (with two “g”s) could refer only to one thing: an incredibly obscure computer game called Dungeons of Daggorath released in 1982. The game had been made for just one platform, the TRS-80 Color Computer.
Halliday had written in Anorak’s Almanac that Dungeons of Daggorath was the game that made him decide he wanted to become a videogame designer. (Ready Player One, page 85)
Perhaps the greatest Atari game in it’s own right! If it weren’t for Pac-Man, Parzival would have never won the contest!
Parzival earned an extra life for playing Pac-Man in the Happytime Pizza arcade on the video game planet of Archaide:
I continued farther into the dark electronic cave and walked up to a Pac-Man machine at the very back of the room, wedged between a Galaga and a Dig Dug. The black-and-yellow cabinet was covered with chips and scratches, and the garish side-art was peeling.
The Pac-Man game’s monitor was dark, and there was an OUT OF ORDER sign taped to it. Why would Halliday include a broken game in this simulation? Was this just another atmospheric detail? Intrigued, I decided to investigate further. (Ready Player One, p. 220)
The first and (now) most famous Easter egg! Game designer Warren Robinett left his name hidden inside the classic Atari game of multi-colored dragons, to be specific: Yorgle the Yellow, Grundle the Green, and Rhindle the Red.
Why else is Adventure #1 on this list? Parzival designed his contact card to look like an original Atari 2600 Adventure cartridge (like above) with his info printed on the label:
10th Level Warrior
(Use with Joystick Controller)
What would be on your Top Ten Ready Player One list? Is my list fatally flawed? Let me know! Comment and share below.
Still haven’t read Ready Player One? What are you waiting for???
Here’s the COMPLETE LIST of Video Games Referenced in Ready Player One
Akalabeth: World of Doom
The Colossal Cave
Dungeons of Daggorath
The Empire Strikes Back
Galaga (as part of the War Games simulation)
Mad for Better or Verse
Madness and the Minotaur
Street Fighter II
The Swordquest series
Table Tennis for Two
The Ultima series (which used the phrase “Art Thou Ready?”)
Did I miss anything from the list? Let me know! Comment and share below: