The Stacks are a type of refugee shanty villages that were constructed on the outskirts of most major cities during the rise of the global energy crisis.
The Stacks are named due to how the dozens of trailers and similar mobile living quarters that make up the spaces are stacked on top of one another in "stacks", held together by metal beams, pipes and makeshift girders. They were created to save space, labor, and resources. This cheap construction caused the over crowded homes to become a breeding ground for theft, murder, molestation and other heinous activities.
The top level or "roof" of each stack is blanketed with a patchwork array of old solar panels that provided supplemental power to the units below. A bundle of hoses and corrugated tubing snake up and down the side of each stack, supplying water to each trailer and carrying away sewage (although not every Stack is reported to possess such luxuries). Very little sunlight make it to the bottom level (known as the "floor") and the ground between the stacks are clogged with abandoned cars and trucks that have to be cleared away by construction cranes before a new stack can be created.
The Stacks were originally trailer parks that were inundated with refugees who sought to live closer to the cities as the energy crisis hit. An idea to stack the trailer parks caught on and trailer parks across the country quickly evolved into "stacks"; strange hybrids of shanty towns, squatter settlements and refugee camps. These parks began forming scattered around the outskirts of most major cities overflowing with uprooted rednecks had fled their dying towns to the nearest metropolis.
According to the novel, Wade Watts lived in the Portland Avenue Stacks, a sprawling hive of discolored tin shoeboxes rusting on the shores of I-40, just west of Oklahoma City's decaying skyscraper core. A collection of over five hundred individual stacks, all connected to each other by a makeshift network of recycled pipes, girders, support beams and footbridges, the spires of a dozen ancient construction cranes were positioned around the stacks' ever expanding outer perimeter.
- Aunt's Trailer: Wade's aunt's trailer was the top unit in a stack of 22 mobile homes. Making it a level or two taller than the majority of the stacks immediately surrounding it.
A total of fifteen people lived in his aunt's trailer. She slept in the smallest of its three bedrooms. The Depperts lived in the bedroom adjacent to hers and the Millers occupied the large master bedroom at the end of the hall. There were six of them, they paid the largest share of the rent. The trailer wasn't as crowded as some of the other units in the stacks. It was a double-wide which left plenty of room for everybody.
When not in his hideout, Wade slept in a sleeping bag in the corner of his aunt's trailer's tiny laundry room wedged into the gap between the wall and the dryer. It was warm, afforded him a limited amount of privacy and the wireless reception wasn't too bad. The room smelled like liquid detergent and fabric softener, the rest of the trailer reeked of cat piss and abject poverty.
- Wade's Secret Hideout: a hidden van located deep within a car pile on the eastern perimeter of the Stack where Wade Watts lives. Wade uses the van his secret home away from his Aunt's trailer. Most of the time he slept in his hideout.
- Gunfire was not uncommon within the stacks.
- When descending to the ground, Wade avoids using the stairs since they creak and alert the neighbours of his presence; he instead, uses rope located behind the stacks.
- The novel refers to Wade living in the Portland Avenue Stacks on the western outskirts of Oklahoma City. The movie trailer, however, implies that The Stacks are in Columbus, Ohio.
- Every stack in Wade's park stood at least fifteen mobile homes high.
- Stack collapses weren't that uncommon and the domino effect could bring down four or five neighboring stacks as well.
- Those people employed within Wade's stacks district worked as day laborers in giant factory farms that surrounded the city. Commuter shuttles ran only a few times a day.
- Cars and trucks are piled haphazardly along the stack's perimeter in order to clear area for more stacks. Some of these piles were nearly as tall as the stacks themselves.
- In describing the Stacks, Steven Spielberg described it as "essentially a vertical trailer park".
- Ready Player Two reveals that the DFW Stacks in Duncanville, Texas were much worse.