Decoding Ready Player One’s Teaser Image Easter Eggs

by Ian Hamilton • July 22nd, 2017

The words “Ready Player One” could already be seen on the backs of San Diego Comic-Con attendees as it adorned the bags handed out to visitors this week. Hidden inside the “o” of the title is a tiny little egg, referencing the story’s plot that sees a teenager search for the ultimate prize hidden inside a vast virtual universe created by an eccentric designer.

We got our first glimpse at the upcoming Steven Spielberg film this week via teaser image right before Comic-Con kicked off and now we’ve had a little time to digest the teaser, which itself is chock full of Easter eggs. Spielberg, author Ernest Cline, and the cast of the film are expected to shed more light on it as Comic-Con winds toward its conclusion, but we thought it was worth breaking down everything we can discern from the image.

This VR Gear Is Pretty Impressive

In the book by Cline, school kids are given free gear so they can attend school in VR. The rather poor main character, Wade Watts (played by Tye Sheridan), hides this gear inside a van he’s turned into a nook in which he can immerse himself without interruption.

While the book suggests he seats himself for VR sessions, since the book’s release in 2011 locomotion has become one of the most widely understood issues with the technology. Many people only vaguely aware of VR may still understand that it can make you feel unwell if something like movement isn’t handled correctly. So it looks like Watts may have rigged himself a cheap full-body immersion setup for the film. He looks like he may be standing on an infinity-style treadmill that can presumably grant the illusion of walking as far as he likes in any direction.

So locomotion is taken care of, and may be enhanced with a winch behind him that looks like it could attach at the waist. Could this help in simulating the feeling of covering uneven terrain? He’s also wearing bulky haptic gloves to grant a sense of touch to his hands. Around his neck there’s a kind of gigantic necklace which UPDATE looks like it may be used for authentication or facial scanning . His sense of taste doesn’t seem to be stimulated, but we can presume the bulky headset is taking care of both his eyes and ears to fully stimulate most of his senses. Is it possible the lights, heaters and fans around the cabin are designed to offer environmental effects like wind and heat too? We may be looking at a character that’s worked incredibly hard to hack together this makeshift holodeck from whatever he could scavenge.

Perhaps later in the film we’ll see the higher-end more polished gear we would expect from a future where this technology has overtaken the world.

’80s references And Much More

One of the most divisive things about the story is its obsession with the ’80s. I for one adored the references even if I was only familiar with about 40 percent of them because I bought into the idea that in the future people will communicate more frequently with memes born from pop culture that seemingly everyone knows. The next generation’s access to existing movies, music, and TV shows increases with each passing year, so it’s conceivable to think of these points of reference pouring into the public domain and collective unconscious in the future.

Anyway, Spielberg is covering this van in those ’80s references and a lot more. Among the things we could pick out all around the van:

  • He-Man lunch box upside down on table on right.
  • Various stickers on walls including Garfield and Garbage Pail Kids.
  • Junk food wrappers on floor include Whoppers, Carl’s Jr., M&Ms, Cheetos, and a Charleston Chew.
  • Beholder (D&D) sticker on the cooler on the left.
  • Bloomberg Business Week and Wired magazine covers on the left showing James Halliday, the creator of the the virtual universe known as OASIS.
  • The Ohio Sunday Globe newspaper on the left includes the headline: “Since 2021 More Then (sic) 20 Million VR Headsets Sold.” Newspapers continue to encounter declining revenues, so the typo could be a sly reference to the state of print journalism in the future.
  • Exercise bike in the back, which is used by Watts in the book to power up the various batteries seen around the van, as well as his VR gear.
  • Cartons attached to the walls to dampen sound so nobody discovers his VR nook.

What’d We Miss?

I’m sure there is a lot more to discern from the image. Please share in the comments if you have any observations or theories to share.

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