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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How far from reality
Those who play MMOGs will have many a little chuckle when they read this book, buying virtual money with real money is part and parcel of the online game scene, love it or hate it, it's there.
For the Win takes place in the near future, when multiplayer online games--descendants of Everquest and World of Warcraft have continued to rise in popularity.
Gold...
Published on 7 May 2010 by Mr. B. Trotter

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hard-to-read polemic
Last year, I very much enjoyed Doctorow's Little Brother, part YA novel about civil liberties and part how-to guide for civil disobedience in the 21st century. It was well written and while some felt the technological descriptions were somewhat basic, I think a good balance was struck between explaining things for the non-nerd audience while not being overly patronising...
Published on 14 Mar. 2011 by Stephan Burn


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctorow's best yet, 22 Jun. 2010
By 
Atticman (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: For the Win (Hardcover)
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I have read two of Cory Docotorow's previous novels, 'Little Brother' and 'Makers', and I found them interesting if a little lacking in plot. This was particularly true of 'Makers', which was a dull collection of technical essays held loosely together by a bare bones storyline about characters you were hard pushed to care about.

However, with 'For the Win' Doctorow seems to have found his stride. This is a compelling tale of a near-future world (one would struggle to label this 'sci-fi' in the traditional sense) where 4 of the world's top economies are found in online computer games - the massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, which today is dominated by World of Warcraft.

These giant games are 'inhabited' by millions of people all over the world, and run by corporations for massive profit. However, as with any huge business open to the public, there is money to be made in ways that the games owners don't expect. This is where the 'gold farmers' make their living - sweat shops of youngsters in developing countries, working hard in-game to extract a profit by exploiting game mechanics and gathering items to sell to richer gamers. Around this business a whole industry of unions and strike breakers grows as competition becomes violent.

The story unfolds in to a struggle of oppressed workers rallying against their shady employers to demand fair treatment, safe working environments and decent wages. This is just another industry, though it is an emerging one, and the issues are fundamentally the same as those affecting every other industry in the world - if one country starts to demand better treatment then the business will inevitably move elsewhere. This is similar to situations the world over right now; with Chinese labour costs increasing, huge companies like Nike are moving their business to Vietnam, where people will work for less, and in poorer conditions.

Docotorow's agenda is unashamedly liberal (he writes for the Guardian), and he makes a convincing case. The story is interspersed with short essays on the nature of economics, finance markets, industry and trade, whether delivered by characters within the tale or by a nameless narrator. These are less frequent than in his previous novels, and are generally more intersting. Doctorow wraps his lectures are in a breathless tale of worker-vs-worker violence, intimidation and courage, which moves on at a cracking pace. The final third of the book is especially brutal, made all the more so by the fact that the key characters are all children, or at least very young adults. That the author has been able to take very serious, real-world issues and bring them to the reader's attention through an intersting story is very impressive. I certainly finished the novel feeling like I'd learned something.

One small note of warning though - it will help readers enormously if they are familiar with at least some basic gaming terms, or have played video games within the last 10 years. There is a lot of jargon and gamer slang throughout the novel, esepcially the first half, and a basic understanding of how these games work will help a lot. I haven't ever played these particular sorts of games, but I am a gamer so I kept up with most of what was happening. Even the title is taken from online gamer speak (usually shortened to FTW - giving support and encouragement).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flashes of interest, but generally a frustrating read, 16 May 2010
This review is from: For the Win (Hardcover)
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"For the Win" is the sixth novel by the acclaimed journalist and science-fiction writer Cory Doctorow, and his second for young adults. Set in the not-too-distant future, it takes as its subject the phenomenon of massively-multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs). In Doctorow's vision, these games - the successors to titles such as World of Warcraft - have grown to the extent that they have become fully-fledged economies in themselves, with sweatshop-workers in India and China employed by villainous bosses to "farm" the game-worlds for prestige items that can be sold to players in return for real-world cash. The novel follows some of those workers as they try to overturn the system and bring about fair conditions and pay for all.

An interesting premise, perhaps, but there is little that is especially original or ground-breaking about it. In fact the majority of the action takes place in the real world, not the virtual one, and aside from a few brief glimpses at the beginning of the novel, we see remarkably little of the games described - which would not only have been enlightening to less informed readers but might have provided a useful counterpoint to the real world. At the same time, there is little attempt to explore the psychology of the gamers themselves, which might have helped bring the characters to life, and establish greater sympathy for them. It would have been interesting to gain some insight into what attracts players to MMORPGs, and why they invest so much time and effort in them.

Certainly there are some exciting moments - many of the characters are on the run from the authorities, utilising their computing expertise to deliver illicit night-time broadcasts to workers worldwide - but on the whole the plot fails to deliver much drama. The narrative is weighed down by large sections of exposition on economic theory, which demonstrates the depth of Doctorow's research and the extent of his passion, but which is largely unnecessary, quickly becoming tiresome and repetitive while also hindering the pace. The conclusion, too, is strangely anticlimactic, leaving the reader to wonder what ultimately is the novel's message.

This is not to say that Doctorow doesn't present some interesting ideas about both the future of online gaming and of global economics. Nevertheless, in the end "For the Win" remains a long-winded and frustrating novel which never quite manages to live up to its potential.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the target again, 5 July 2010
By 
El Loro (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: For the Win (Hardcover)
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Cory Doctorow once again shows how good SF is essentially a metaphor for what is already happening around us.

The idea that online roleplaying games could become huge moneyspinners, generating markets and derivatives of their own, is not too fantastical and reminds us of the imbalances and distortions in today's economies. The "fully hedged investments" that help bring Coca-Cola to the table, for example, are not that different from the derivatives which almost brought down the global banking system.

Similarly, the idea that people working and running the roleplaying games will be exploited - and that gaining union recognition will be a painful, bloody process - is already an issue in the sweatshops of Latin America and the Far East. As the economic centre shifts away from liberal democracies, and communication becomes easier, we will see more Tianenmen Squares, only this time on our laptops and phones.

Issues aside, I think the publisher's have missed a trick not marketing more aggressively to young people. There is a big market - used to Melvin Burgess, Philip Pullman and the like - that would devour this.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping..., 4 May 2010
By 
Clarke (Linlithgow, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: For the Win (Hardcover)
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I wouldn't normally read books in this genre so I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed this one. It moves swiftly, the story is interesting.
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For the Win
For the Win by Cory Doctorow (Paperback - 6 Jan. 2011)
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