October 8, 2014 by Heidi
Today I am excited to be the first stop on the 30 Questions With Cory Doctorow blog tour that will culminate in the release of his first graphic novel, with art by the fabulous Jen Wang, on October 14th.
In Real Life is an excellent reflection of how gaming–or the internet in general–can have a profound effect on both society and individuals. Anda helps to inspire change in working conditions on the other side of the world while at the same time gaining her own confidence. It allows her to make friends both in game and in real life, and to better connect with her parents.
Gaming has, without a doubt, defined life as I know it today–where I live, what I do, and who I hang out with–all because I met my husband nearly a decade ago playing World of Warcraft.
In my time with Cory Doctorow, I was interested in finding out more about how he was influenced by those less savory aspects of gaming in order to create In Real Life, and where he sees activism in the online community:
I’ll admit that in my day I’ve had some resentment against gold farmers. Particularly because I was one of those gamers who worked very hard for everything I had, and nothing was worse than finding a node (or an entire zone) farmed just before you get there (and not by another “legit” player). I appreciate that In Real Life challenged me to really think about the people behind the gold farming, and the reality that they’re not all bots. I’m curious, did you have any contact with gold farmers in the process of creating In Real Life? What was this research experience like?
When I worked on my novel FOR THE WIN, which shares some of IRL’s premises, I went to south China and spent a bunch of time talking to people involved in gaming and labor organizing, as well as academics and human rights activists. It was incredibly gratifying and confusing, because the situation is so fluid and so weird, and so much of it is underground that it’s hard to know exactly what’s really going on. The coolest thing I got was 4 or 5 issues of a Chinese gold-farmer zine, which were translated by a friend, which was this crazy, transgessive punk-like zine written by and for kids from the provinces who came to the big city to make money in MMOs, only to be trapped in these terrible, abusive labor situations.
In Real Life tells the sort of story we have been loving since the first labor strikes over a hundred years ago (or, in my case, since I first saw Newsies as a kid), but in a very new and relevant way. It shows how the internet can empower and unite individuals for forces of good. Moreover, because it’s told from the perspective of a high school girl, it shows how irellevant age and gender can be to making a difference. Who do you see making a difference (however big or small) through the internet today?
Obviously, the most organized form of online activism is the activism about the online world — groups like the people who fought SOPA and are working on the net neutrality fight today. They’re mobilizing millions for these foundational causes — free and fair networks — because all the other causes can only be fought for if the network is available for all.
About the Book
Title: In Read Life [Goodreads]
Words: Cory Doctorow [Website|Twitter]
Art: Jen Wang [Twitter]
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Published: October 14th, 2014 by First Second
Format: Paperback; 196 pages.
Source: Review copy from publisher.
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 and digerati bigwig Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.
Thank you for stopping by for 30 Questions With Cory Doctorow! Follow along with the tour to read all of Cory’s thoughts on what we bloggers came up with:
Thursday, October 9th – Stacked
Friday, October 10th – Forever YA
Saturday, October 11th – CBR Robot 6
Sunday, October 12th – The Midnight Garden
Monday, October 13th – Cuddlebuggery
Tuesday, October 14th — Guys Lit Wire
Wednesday, October 15th – Novel Thoughts
Thursday, October 16th – The Book Rat
Friday, October 17th – Alice Marvels