Title: In Real Life
Author: Cory Doctorow
Illustrator: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Length: 192, Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Folded Pages
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing.
But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer — a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.
From acclaimed teen author Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.
This was a super cute and light read that I think every teenager (everyone in general really) should read. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about video games and the community that surrounds them. In Real Life does a good job at dispelling that in a way that makes it accessible to anyone.
I grew up playing MMOs (Massive Multiplayer Online) games with my brother and cousin. We were always enraged by farmers who would gather around certain dungeons or areas killing everything and taking items so that no one else was able to get at it and players paying money to win was one of the worst offenses in our eyes since we worked hard to level up. This book challenges those thoughts showing who is on the other side of that farming mob.
Doctorow is good at opening my eyes to issues like this and this short graphic novel has a close relation with his other book on gold farming called For the Win.
The graphic novel does feel like it almost doesn’t have a plot but I think in this case it works. It’s supposed to be reflecting reality and I think a massive plot would distract from that. It took me about 45 minutes to read and I think for such a short time commitment, it should be given a chance even if it’s not quite your thing.