With one line, the ending of Ready Player One tries to assert that a better future is on the horizon for the economically destitute and imaginatively bankrupt society. But the ending of the film is pointedly different from the ending of the book. It’s a smart change, and probably a good message for anyone who has an internet addiction.
Spoilers ahead for Ready Player One.
On Friday, Steven Spielberg’s big screen adaptation of Ready Player One hit theaters. Fans of pretty much every nerdy franchise imaginable all found something they recognized or loved. But, it was in the subtle change in the very end of the film where Ready Player One achieved a tonal difference between its source material. After Wade and his clan are given control of the online VR world of the Oasis, a voiceover from Wade at the end of the film tells us how they decided to run it. In a move that he describes as “less popular,” Wade decides that the Oasis should be closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to prevent people from losing themselves in the Oasis too much. In this way, the very ending of Ready Player One asserts itself as being pro IRL interactions, even though the majority of the movie spends its time online.
In the book, Wade’s newfound sentiment about the Oasis is similar, but not as overt. Here’s what the last line says:
It occurred to me then that for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS.
Essentially, Wade’s epiphany in the book and film is the same. He realizes real life is more important than anything he could do in a virtual world. But, in the film, that epiphany is put into action. Instead of a vague idea that he’ll take a break from being online, Wade actually sets limits on how much time people can spend online. It’s an interesting flourish, and one that gestures at turning the cyber-dystopia of Ready Player One into a semi-functional fairy tale. - Ready Player One is out now in wide release from Warner Bros.