For the Win by Cory Doctorow (YA)
This young adult novel follows teenagers all over the world as they play video games and try to mine gold and create a union for all the people who work within the system of the games. I thought the concept was really interesting, as it follows people in countries like China and India who play games for money. Their jobs is to farm gold, get the super awesome weapons to sell, or help new or lonely players to get further along in terms of experience. However, the gaming companies don’t want this to happen, so they hire other players in these countries and in North America to find these people in the game and kick them out. Since all of this is happening online in games that resemble World of Warcraft, outsiders don’t realize how both groups of players are being exploited. A group in Indonesia reaches out to players all over the world in an attempt to create a union for those who work within the online world. Unfortunately, a wild-cat strike of players in China means that workers are likely to experience the most vile strikebreaking techniques.
I know what Doctorow was trying to do with this novel, in terms of raising awareness in young adults about worker’s conditions around the world, as well as the way technology is changing the way people can connect. I guess I just wasn’t the perfect audience for this one. I found that there were too many characters and not enough time spent on them, so it was hard to feel strongly about any of them. I know that I don’t know too much about gaming, but I felt that there was too much explanatory description of how the games worked, even for me. However, I did learn the term “wild-cat strike”, as well as a better understanding of economics, so this book was a draw.