Chapters 0037–0039

Summary: Chapter 0037

Wade’s avatar appears in an empty space with a single arcade machine, Tempest, from 1980. A voice tells him that he has to beat James Halliday’s high score. Wade is upset, as he is not very good at the game, and the machine shows that he only has one credit: a single attempt. Art3mis reassures him by telling him that the original release of the arcade cabinet had a glitch where the user could earn forty free credits. Using the method, Wade earns extra credits and gives the game several tries, each time falling short of the high score. 

Wade’s friends inform him that the Sixers have entered the gate and that they were all playing Tempest. Wade gives another attempt and reaches the needed score. His avatar is transported to another Flicksync, similar to Wargames. This time, it is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is one of Wade’s favorite films. He recites the dialogue with little difficulty. After completing the film, with Sorrento only nine minutes behind him in his own Flicksync, Wade’s avatar appears in a large room made to look like Halliday’s office. It has every major gaming console laid out in an oval, from a PDP-1 all the way to an OASIS console. Wade knows that Halliday’s Easter egg is somewhere in the room.

Summary: Chapter 0038

After trying all the consoles, Wade finds that only the IMSAI 8080 has power. He tries several different logins but is initially unsuccessful. Eventually, he tries Leucosia, the name of Kira Morrow’s Dungeons & Dragons character. Every system in the room powers on. Wade sprints his avatar to the Atari 2600 and immediately starts playing Adventure. He moves through the game quickly and reaches the secret area, which has a large egg instead of Warren Robinett’s name. Wade’s avatar receives a large metallic egg, and he exits the office. Inside another room in the castle, Anorak speaks to Wade about the importance of living in the real world and not wasting his life hiding in the OASIS, as James Halliday had done. Anorak transfers all his powers to Wade’s avatar and shows him a button that will destroy the OASIS forever. Anorak tells him to use his powers for good. Wade also sees that his account has billions of credits. Wade uses his new powers to resurrect Aech, Art3mis, and Shoto and restore their lost items. Aech and Shoto log back into the OASIS and thank him. They tell him that Art3mis did not log back in and that she is waiting for him when he is ready to meet her. Wade watches a news clip of Sorrento being arrested and escorted from IOI headquarters.

Summary: Chapter 0039

Wade meets Art3mis in the garden maze behind Ogden Morrow’s mansion. Wade tells her that he thinks that she is beautiful. They sit beside one another on a bench and hold hands. Art3mis introduces herself as Samantha. They talk and get along, despite the awkwardness. Wade professes his love and Samantha tells him that he is her best friend and favorite person. She eventually kisses him. Wade says, “for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS.”

Analysis: Chapters 0037–0039

The fact that Wade must beat Halliday’s high score is significant because, throughout the novel, he has followed in Halliday’s footsteps. Unsurprisingly, one of the last challenges, the arcade game Tempest, is one of the hardest. Beating his high score would be akin to proving that he is worthy of winning the contest. When Wade enters the Monty Python and the Holy Grail Flicksync, it again shows that knowledge of Halliday’s obsessions serves Wade well in the hunt. Appearing in Halliday’s office after finishing the Flicsync implies that Wade is close to taking over Halliday’s role as ruler of the OASIS. Controlling the OASIS is the ultimate way for Wade to follow in Halliday’s footsteps. 

Halliday’s regrets are a warning to Wade that he shouldn’t continue to follow in Halliday’s footsteps. Suddenly, Wade is the most powerful person in the whole world, and he proves he will take his own path when he selflessly uses his new powers to resurrect his friends and restore their items. The existence of the Big Red Button shows that Halliday understood that the path he was on was dangerous. Halliday intended the OASIS to be used for good but worried about the risks of it being abused. Wade must decide if he will follow in Halliday’s footsteps and let the OASIS become more detrimental to humans or if he will tread his own path and use it for good. 

The novel concludes when Wade embraces reality and finally meets Art3mis in the real world. It is significant that Wade finds Art3mis in the garden maze, as his path to her heart resembles a labyrinth. For the first time, Samantha allows herself to be vulnerable to Wade when she tells him her real name and proves that she finally trusts him. Finding Samantha and losing his desire to log back into the OASIS shows the growth that Wade has experienced throughout the novel. He had to withstand all the challenges in the story before he was ready to be the partner that Samantha needs. Samantha, too, needed to feel safe enough to reveal her true identity. Wade proved himself to not only be worthy of Halliday’s prize but also worthy of Samantha’s affections.