Game Industry Interview with Ernest Cline

August 02, 2012

by Andrea Emmes

It’s hard to believe that only five days ago, I posted my book review on Ernest Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One (read review here) that I now have the honor of sharing a one-on-one interview with the author HIMSELF!
On a lark, I decided to check out Ernie’s website to see if I could sweet talk him or his publicist in allowing us to interview him. Well, not only did I get a response the next day, but it was from Ernie himself. He was very nice and excited to speak with Forbiddenpanel!

So, without further  adieu, let’s hear more about Ernest Cline and his process for writing, Ready Player One.

Ernest Cline













    • 1.  It is so obvious, after reading Ready Player One, that you are a hardcore gamer. What hooked you about video games?
    • Ernie:  Getting an Atari 2600 for Christmas when I was seven years old. I spent the next several years welded to it, playing my favorite games over and over. I’ve been an avid gamer ever since.
    • 2.  I’ve always been impressed with how much research authors do in order to be accurate with their details for their novels. How much research did you have to do while piecing this story together? How much of it was just from your own knowledge/experience? Did you really watch all of those episodes, movies, commercials and play all of those games?
    • Ernie:  All of the pop culture references in the book came from my own existing knowledge and experience. By writing about all of the things I love, I was able to maintain my interest in the novel while I was writing. So yes, I really did watch all of the TV shows, movies, and commercials, and I’ve played every game mentioned in the book. Most of the research I did for Ready Player One had to do with virtual reality technology and climate change.
    • 3.  For those that have read your book, they understand how exquisitely complicated your book can be with all of the riddles and tie-ins to the 80’s and classic game history. Though I am an 80’s buff and classic game freak, I would have NEVER tied those things together. How did you do it?  Was it difficult to create Halliday’s quests?
    • Ernie:  No, it was actually one of the easiest and most enjoyable parts of writing the book. Once I had the idea of having all of the puzzles and riddles deal with my favorite facets of pop culture, I had more ideas for riddles and puzzles than I could ever use in one book. I filled several notebooks with ideas, then ended up just using my favorites, or the ones that worked best for the story.
    • 4.  You seem to think like a game designer. Did you consult with many? Have you ever thought of becoming a designer?
    • Ernie:  Yes, I always used to dream of being a video game designer, but I never really had the aptitude for it. I programmed a few simple games in BASIC when I was a teenager, but after that I focused on just playing games. I didn’t consult with any game designers while writing the book, but several prominent game designers inspired characters in it. For instance, James Halliday is sort of a combination of Richard Garriott and Howard Hughes.
    • 5.  Being a child of the 80’s, I totally appreciate you allowing me to relive my childhood. What gave you the idea to base this around 80’s culture? Is it because the 80’s was the Golden Age of Gaming?
    • Ernie:  I decided to base the novel around 80s culture because doing also allowed me to relive my childhood while I was writing the book. The 70s and 80s were also a very unique time to grow up, because it was the dawn of the video game era, the home computing era, and a golden age for movies, music, TV shows, and video games.
    • 6.  Were there any ideas or references that you had wanted to include but either didn’t find a place for them or only thought about them in hindsight?
    • Ernie:  Talking Heads! They’re one of my favorite 80s bands, and somehow I failed to mention them in the entire book. But it was a long decade, so I was bound to leave a few things out.
    • 7.  Would you ever consider writing a sequel or companion story?
    • Ernie:  Definitely. I have outlines for two sequels to Ready Player One. But I’m not sure how long it will be before I get around to writing them.
    • 8.  What’s the status on YOUR Easter Egg hunt? How close are your gunters in finding your Easter Egg for the Delorean? 
    • Ernie:  The contest is still going. People are racing to complete all three gates and win the Delorean right now! Running the contest has been a lot of fun, and it’s brought my book to life in a way I never imagined.
    • 9.  I’m a big fan of your film, Fanboys (Star Wars rules–Han shot first).  What can you tell me about the Ready Player One movie? I understand you’re writing the screenplay, thank God. Will it follow closely with the book? The licensing on this must be a nightmare.
    • Ernie:  The movie is still in the early development stage and no director has been hired yet, so it’s hard to say how faithful the movie will end up being to the book. But Warner Bros. did an amazing job with the Harry Potter films, and I’m hoping the Ready Player One movie ends up being just as faithful to the source material. The licensing will be a hurdle, but Warner Bros has a huge library of 80s movies, music, and video games, so hopefully a lot of things won’t have to be changed. Fingers crossed.
    • 10.  Aside from the movie, do you have any other plans for the Ready Player One universe?
    • Ernie:  I would love for there to be an MMORPG based on the OASIS someday. If and when the movie gets made, I think it might happen.
    • 11.  I ask this of everyone. Favorite Game and why?
    • Ernie:  Half-Life 2. Playing that game is like being the hero in a really awesome Science Fiction film.
    • 12.  Worst Game and why?
    • Ernie:  Kangaroo. It’s a pretty awful game.
    • 13.  If you could be any character, who would it be and why…and don’t say Parzival–LOL!
    • Ernie:  Luke Skywalker. He’s the baddest Jedi that ever was.


I don’t know about you, gamer geeks, but I could talk to Ernie all day! Thanks Ernie, and really looking forward to more to come!!

Game On, Ernie—Andrea