For The Win by Cory Doctorow

Posted May 1, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

For The Win by Cory DoctorowTitle: For The Win (Goodreads)
Author: Cory Doctorow
Published: Tor, 2010
Pages: 480
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: Amazon (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I’m not sure if I’ve just read a novel or had a lesson in economics. Cory Doctorow’s dystopian novel For the Win tells the story of the exploitation of an online role playing game’s economy. In the running of what could be classed as electronic sweatshops throughout Asia, gold farmers suffer from very poor work conditions in the effort to mine gold and find virtual treasure to sell to first world customers. The novel has a typical ‘unite and rise against authority to improve our lifestyle’ plot but add a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) this book makes for some interesting concepts. While this book is a book about slave labour, gangsters and forming a revolution, this book also dives into the world of global finance in a very educational way.

This book reminds me of Neal Stephenson’s novel Reamde, in the sense that it explores the world of gaming from the perspective of gold farming. While Stephenson focused on all the aspects of creating a MMORPG for the purposes of gold farming and money laundering, For the Win focuses on the concept of the in-game financial system and how fragile global economy can be. The author floods the book with many different financial theories and uses the games economy to help the reader understand just how global finances work. While this novel focuses on the in-game aspects of economics, the theories taught are very real.

Like Reamde, For the Win made me thing of an aspect of gaming that I never released existed. While Reamde hired a geologist to create the world of T’Rain’s mining system; For the Win had an economist working for the game developers. This book was a real eye opener while still making a great story. To begin with I had trouble keeping up with all the characters Doctorow tried to introduce, characters from USA, India and China; but slowly I started to get a feel for which character was which. I don’t think Cory Doctorow spent enough time exploring his characters, I felt like I only got a glimpse of each character and I would have liked more. For the Win is a book for gamers, but non-gamers might also enjoy the thrilling ride this takes the reader on. It is more than just a lesson in economics and it is more than a novel about unionising Gold Farming. While very predictable this ended up being a great read.