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The Real Life Atari Mystery Inspired by Ready Player One



Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ready Player One like the source material, is brimming with references to music, movies and video games from the 80s. It also raises a few Master Chiefs, Overwatch characters and the Iron Giant for good measure. Usually these references are superficial and fleeting, but some carry more weight – like the look of Adventure for the Atari 2600.

Ready Player One is about a virtual world called Oasis and a gang of Teenagers looking for a secret their creator James Halliday has hidden. Anyone who finds this easter egg will not only win fame and fortune in Oasis, but will also take ownership and control of the online game itself. It's a somewhat ridiculous premise that feels like a mashup by Willy Wonka and The Matrix .

As the film unfolds, it begins to make more sense and even feels natural. Adventure A rudimentary Dungeon Crawler from 1

979, explains why. Although Adventure is revolutionary on many fronts, thanks to its creator Warren Robinett, it contains one of the earliest Easter eggs of the Games.

To reach Halliday's Easter Egg, Ready Player One & # 39; The protagonists have to overcome a number of challenges. In Spielberg's adaptation, the third and final step is playing an Atari 2600 with every loaded game in the console. Many easter eggs try and misunderstand the hidden meaning of this puzzle without realizing that (1) the only game they have to play is Adventure and (2) they should not beat it. They should be their deepest Unlock Mystery: a hidden room that displays the name of the game designer.

Robinet's decision to embed his name somewhere in the game, where only the most obsessed players are, would now spread it widely as a historical moment in the game, but at the time he just wanted it stuck to his employer Atari. The company did not allow the designers to attach their names to games and did not pay any royalties on each sold cartridge (the sale of Adventure exceeded one million). Like many cartoonists in the '50s and' 60s, the designers' work was treated as a production achievement rather than an artistic expression.

"When I Found This I designed video games for a company controlled by people who forced me to be an anonymous contributor, even though I had created the whole game, Adventure it made me angry, "recalled Robinett's 2016 NPR profile. "It was a power play and after a while being frustrated and not enjoying being under the feet of big money boys, I had a sneaky idea to hide my name in the game."

The signature he found in The Game could only be found if the players went into a particular room, secured a seemingly useless object represented as a small dot, and returned it to another unrelated location. At that point, a wall was removed and the player was able to enter a hidden room where Robinet's name flashed vertically across the center of the screen. A 15-year-old from Salt Lake City discovered the secret later, after Robinett had already left Atari. It became such a sensation, after his retelling, that the management at the company demanded similar secrets that are placed in other games. Decades later, it's almost impossible for a new game to come out that has no hidden secrets or subtexts.

During Ready Player One there is always the danger that the large, impersonal mega-corporation will take over Oasis and turn it into a pure money press. Halladie's vision for Oasis is open to her own criticisms, but at least it's someone's vision, not a faceless society.

In some aspects, Ready Player One is about how the artist's relationship with his work lives on in the work itself. Halliday's Oasis is the thing he wants to share with players around the world, but it's not enough. He creates this sophisticated labyrinth that players must solve in order to better understand their life story, including the things that inspired them and the way they did not live up to their inspirations. Halliday is not anonymous like Robinett – far from it – but who he really is remains anonymous to a degree. So he tries to bury one of the keys to understand who he was in Adventure in an allusion to Robinet's groundbreaking task of doing the same.


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