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[Review] In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

inreallifeAnda 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.

In Real Life was a refreshing read for a number of reasons. Although I read comics, I am not a gamer. I would say that once every 2 years a game comes along that I feel like playing. I play it for 1 month and then stop. (I’m looking at you, Scott Pilgrim and Adventure Time).

That being said, I really liked this graphic novel. You don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate it. This book deals with the reality of gaming, and the fact that online games can have some real life repercussions. I wasn’t aware of gold farming, and I especially wasn’t aware that this is a way to earn income in some parts of the world. Not only is the main character a girl, but she’s pleasantly chubby- a nice change from stick thin characters.

Credit: First Second Books

Credit: First Second Books

The story is also beautifully coloured and illustrated by Jen Wang. I would read anything that Jen Wang illustrates. I’ve been a huge fan of hers since high school with her Strings of Fate web comic. Jen’s sweeping illustration style is well suited for the story.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
Publisher First Second Books
Paperback, 196 pages

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