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

Title: In Real Life
Writer: Cory Doctorow
Illustrator: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Publication year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 175

Anda Bridge was introduced to Coarsegold online at school. Interested, she then joined the game and started playing. In the game, Anda partnered with another player called Sarge. They hunt gold farmers as their mission. Gold farmers are players who collect items for gold and sell it to other players for real money. Gold farming is actually considered as cheating in the game, which is why Anda agreed to do the mission. One day, Anda encountered one of the gold farmers and they talked. That’s when Anda realized there’s much more going on behind gold farming.
As stated in the introduction, the author intended to talk about economic, games, and how those two are connected. Although I don’t consider myself as an online gamer, I do play a little bit. The topic brought in this graphic novel, which is game farming and how it affects real life economics, is the topic that I’m familiar with. I don’t do game farming, but I know people who do this as their day job. I think this hasn’t talked a lot in books, so I appreciate that Doctorow brought that in this graphic novel. Still, I don’t particularly like the way Doctorow made Anda handles the situation. Later in the story, Anda learned that Raymond was being exploited in his workplace. She then told Raymond to stand up to his boss and fight for his right as an employee. I understand that her intention is good, but coming from a privileged kid like Anda, I feel like she made light the situation a bit. Just because her father faced the same situation and it went well for him, doesn’t mean it would work for Raymond too. Anda is just a kid ,though, but because of this experience she becomes more aware of the situation of people from the other part of the world and that’s good.
I like the early part of this book where there’s a character who introduce Coarsegold online to the students. She talked about the rise of female gamers and how there’s not many female gamers. She explained that Coarsegold has a welcoming and safe environment especially for girls. I like that this book shows how Anda’s mom is concerned about Anda’s safety on the internet. I also like that the game can help Anda to be more confident as shown later in the book.
The illustration in this book is cartoony. They used bright colors and I think it’s beautiful. It can seem like the game farming topic is oversimplified, but I believe this graphic novel is more intended for young girls. The bright colors and fun illustration added to that. Overall, it’s a fun graphic novel. 

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