Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

It's not just an online game.  Complex economical systems have been created in the gaming world, and people don't just play for fun.  Some people work.  The gold farmers gather virtual gold and jewelry and other valuable items and then sell them.  In the real world, the gold farmers work in sweatshop like conditions.  In China, Matthew has defied his boss.  In India, Mala leads an army of gold farmers.  In America, Leonard and stays up for hours playing with friends from Asia.  All across the world, virtual workers are joining together under Big Sister Nor to challenge the sweatshop owners and unionize.

So I'm not a gamer.  Never have been.  I found early on I just didn't have the patience for that kind of thing.  This was not the book for me.  If I had been reading it instead of listening to it on audio I don't think I would have finished it.  I think this might just be how I feel about Cory Doctorow books.  I like Cory Doctorow.  I respect him very much.  I like how he makes all his books available online.  But I felt the same way when I read Little Brother, only more so this time.

Cory Doctorow interrupts the main plot of the story to give detailed analysis and explanations of how things work in the gaming world.  If you are into gaming I have no doubt that this is fascinating.  If you are not, it's tedious and boring and you wish he'd get back to the story already because I have no idea what he's talking about.  There's a lot of this, and the explanations go on for quite some time.

What I did like: I liked that there were both kickass male and female gamers.  The gaming world was not portrayed as an exclusive boys club, although there were more boys than girls.  There were competent female gamers who other gamers looked to and respected.

While this is fiction, it's not made up.  Gold farming is very real, as are the conditions that the gold farmers work under.  And they're scary conditions.  It was sad at some points.  I didn't like the ending, however.  I thought it was a needless sacrifice and didn't have to happen.  It felt like a throwaway and I don't like that.  It reminded me of My Sister's Keeper.  Oh how the end of that book made me mad!

The audio version was fine.  There was only one reader, George Newbern, who kind of did voices.  The Indian characters had accents, although none of the other characters from other countries had accents.  All the female characters had lighter slightly higher voices.  It wasn't a great reading, but it was good enough.


  1. As a gamer I can say all the talk of statistics and the economics of gaming were still not even remotely interesting. I also listened to this as an audiobook and it was my first Doctorow novel. I had a hard time finishing it for fear I'd fall asleep in traffic.

  2. You might also like Ready Player One if you're a gamer. I really enjoyed that one.


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