In the year 2045, the world is gripped by an energy crisis and global warming, causing widespread social problems and economic stagnation. The primary escape for most people is a virtual universe called the OASIS, which is accessed with a visor and haptic gloves. It functions both as an MMORPG and as a virtual society, with its currency being the most stable currency in the world.
It was created by James Halliday, who has recently died. His will left a series of clues towards an Easter Egg, hidden behind a series of gates unlocked with keys within the OASIS that would grant whoever found it both his fortune and control of the OASIS itself. This has led to an intense interest in all aspects of 1980s pop culture, which Halliday made clear would be essential to finding his egg.