Re: Wade is only content when plugged into the OASIS
It would be impossible for anything published in 1996 on themes of VR and escaping dystopian reality to not itself borrow from prior work.
Red Dwarf 'Better Than Life' (1988) is an immediate example.
Really though, VR in Ready Player One is merely a vehicle for including 80's pop culture references, as is the fashion at the moment. If Stranger Things is successful for being a homage to Spielberg and Stephen King, then why not let Spielberg play the same game?
Spielberg has form on these themes: he wrote the 1986 episode of Amazing Stories in which a boy is told by a spirit not to ever through away his beloved comic book collection, no matter difficulties it might cause him as an adult.