For the Win

For the Win

by Cory Doctorow

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Overview

In the virtual future, you must organize to survive

At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual "gold," jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world's poorest countries, where countless "gold farmers," bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.

Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of "General Robotwalla." In Shenzen, heart of China's industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.

The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister's people must out-think the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once—a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.

Imbued with the same lively, subversive spirit and thrilling storytelling that made LITTLE BROTHER an international sensation, FOR THE WIN is a prophetic and inspiring call-to-arms for a new generation

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765322166
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 05/11/2010
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.54(d)
Lexile: 1070L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the author of the New York Times bestselling young adult novel Little Brother, and the co-editor of the popular blog BoingBoing. His adult science fiction novels and short stories have won him three Locus Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He has been named one of the Web's twenty-five "influencers" by Forbes Magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Read an Excerpt

For the Win


By Cory Doctorow, Patrick Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2010 Cory Doctorow
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2216-6



CHAPTER 1

Part I

The gamers and their games, the workers at their work


In the game, Matthew's characters killed monsters, as they did every single night. But tonight, as Matthew thoughtfully chopsticked a dumpling out of the styrofoam clamshell, dipped it in the red hot sauce and popped it into his mouth, his little squadron did something extraordinary: they began to win.

There were eight monitors on his desk, arranged in two ranks of four, the top row supported on a shelf he'd bought from an old lady scrap dealer in front of the Dongmen Market. She'd also sold him the monitors, shaking her head at his idiocy: at a time when everyone wanted giant 30" screens, why did he want this collection of dinky little 9" displays?

So they'd all fit on his desk.

Not many people could play eight simultaneous games of Svartalfheim Warriors. For one thing, Coca-Cola (who owned the game) had devoted a lot of programmer time to preventing you from playing more than one game on a single PC, so you had to somehow get eight PCs onto one desk, with eight keyboards and eight mice on the desk, too, and room enough for your dumplings and an ashtray and a stack of Indian comic books and that stupid war-axe that Ping gave him and his notebooks and his sketchbook and his laptop and —

It was a crowded desk.

And it was noisy. He'd set up eight pairs of cheap speakers, each glued to the appropriate monitor, turned down low to the normal hum of Svartalfheim — the clash of axes, the roar of ice-giants, the eldritch music of black elves (which sounded a lot like the demo programs on the electric keyboards his mother had spent half her life manufacturing). Now they were all making casino noise, pay-off noises, as his raiding party began to clean up. The gold rolled into their accounts. He was playing trolls — it was trolls versus elves in Svartalfheim, though there was an expansion module with light elves and some kind of walking tree — and he'd come through an instance dungeon that was the underground lair of a minor dark-elvish princeling. The lair was only medium hard, with a lot of trash mobs early on, then a bunch of dark-elf cannon fodder to be mown down, some traps, and then the level-boss, a wizard who had to be taken out by the spellcasters in Matthew's party while the healers healed them and the tanks killed anything that tried to attack them.

So far, so good. Matthew had run and mapped the dungeon on his second night in-world, a quick reccy that showed that he could expect to do about 400 gold's worth of business there in about twenty minutes, which made it a pretty poor way to earn a living. But Matthew kept very good notes, and among his notes was the fact that the very last set of guards had dropped some mareridtbane, which was part of the powerful Living Nightmare spell in the new expansion module. There were players all over Germany, Switzerland and Denmark who were buying mareridtbane for 800 gold per plant. His initial reccy had netted him five plants. That brought the total expected take from the dungeon up to 4,400 gold for twenty minutes, or 13,200 gold per hour — which, at the day's exchange, was worth about $30, or 285 renminbi.

Which was — he thought for a second — more than 71 bowls of dumplings.

Jackpot.

His hands flew over the mice, taking direct control of the squad. He'd work out the optimal path through the dungeon now, then head out to the Huoda internet cafe and see who he could find to do runs with him at this. With any luck, they could take — his eyes rolled up as he thought again — a million gold out of the dungeon if they could get the whole cafe working on it. They'd dump the gold as they went, and by the time Coca-Cola's systems administrators figured out anything was wrong, they'd have pulled almost $3,000 out of the game. That was a year's rent for one night's work. His hands trembled as he flipped open a notebook to a new page and began to take notes with his left hand while his right hand worked the game.

He was just about to close his notebook and head for the cafe — he needed more dumplings on the way, could he stop for them? Could he afford to? But he needed to eat. And coffee. Lots of coffee — when the door splintered and smashed against the wall bouncing back before it was kicked open again, admitting the cold fluorescent light from outside into his tiny cave of a room. Three men entered his room and closed the door behind them, restoring the dark. One of them found the light switch and clicked it a few times without effect, then cursed in Mandarin and punched Matthew in the ear so hard his head spun around on his neck, contriving to bounce off the desk. The pain was blinding, searing, sudden.

"Light," one of the men commanded, his voice reaching Matthew through the high-pitched whine of his ringing ear. Clumsily, he fumbled for the desk-lamp behind the Indian comics, knocked it over, and then one of the men seized it roughly and turned it on, shining it full on Matthew's face, making him squint his watering eyes.

"You have been warned," the man who'd hit him said. Matthew couldn't see him, but he didn't need to. He knew the voice, the unmistakable Wenzhou accent, almost impossible to understand. "Now, another warning." There was the snick of a telescoping baton being unfurled, and Matthew flinched and tried to bring his arms up to shield his head before the weapon swung, but the other two had him by the arms now, and the baton whistled past his ear.

But it didn't smash his cheekbone, or his collarbone. Rather, it was the screen before him that smashed, sending tiny sharp fragments of glass out in a cloud that seemed to expand in slow motion, peppering his face and hands. Then another screen went. And another. And another. One by one, the man dispassionately smashed all eight screens, letting out little smoker's grunts as he worked. Then, with a much bigger, guttier grunt, he took hold of one end of the shelf and tipped it on its edge, sending the smashed monitors on it sliding onto the floor, taking the comics, the clamshell, the ashtray, all of it sliding onto the narrow bed that was jammed up against the desk, then onto the floor in a crash as loud as a basketball match in a glass factory.

Matthew felt the hands on his shoulders tighten as he was lifted out of his chair and turned to face the man with the accent, the man who had worked as the supervisor in Mr. Wing's factory, almost always silent. But when he spoke, they all jumped in their seats, never sure of whether his barely contained rage would break, whether someone would be taken off the factory floor and then returned to the dorm that night, bruised, cut, sometimes crying in the night for parents left behind back in the provinces.

The man's face was calm now, as though the violence against the machines had scratched the unscratchable itch that made him clench and unclench his fists all the time. "Matthew, Mr. Wing wants you to know that he thinks of you as a wayward son, and bears you no ill will. You are always welcome in his home. All you need to do is ask for his forgiveness, and it will be given." It was the longest speech Matthew had ever heard the man give, and it was delivered with surprising tenderness, so it was quite a shock when the man brought his knee up into Matthew's balls, hard enough that he saw stars.

The hands released him and he slumped to the floor, a strange sound in his ears that he realized after a moment must have been his voice. He was barely aware of the men moving around his tiny room as he gasped like a fish, trying to get air into his lungs, air enough to scream at the incredible, radiant pain in his groin.

But he did hear the horrible electrical noise as they tasered the box that held his computers, eight PCs on eight individual boards, stuck in a dented sheet-metal case he'd bought from the same old lady. The ozone smell afterwards sent him whirling back to his grandfather's little flat, the smell of the dust crisping on the heating coil that the old man only turned on when he came to visit. He did hear them gather up his notebooks and tread heavily on the PC case, and pull the shattered door shut behind them. The light from the desk lamp painted a crazy oval on the ceiling that he stared at for a long time before he got to his feet, whimpering at the pain in his balls.

The night guard was standing at the end of the corridor when he limped out into the night. He was only a boy, even younger than Matthew — sixteen, in a uniform that was two sizes too big for his skinny chest, and a hat that was always slipping down over his eyes, so he had to look up from under the brim like a boy wearing his father's hat.

"You okay?" the boy said. His eyes were wide, his face pale.

Matthew patted himself down, wincing at the pain in his ear, and the shooting, stabbing feeling in his neck.

"I think so," he said.

"You'll have to pay for the door," the guard said.

"Thanks," Matthew said. "Thanks so much."

"It's okay," the boy said. "It's my job."

Matthew clenched and unclenched his fists and headed out into the Shenzhen night, limping down the stairs and into the neon glow. It was nearly midnight, but Jiabin Road was still throbbing with music, food and hawkers and touts, old ladies chasing foreigners down the street, tugging at their sleeves and offering them "beautiful young girls" in English. He didn't know where he was going, so he just walked, fast, fast as he could, trying to walk off the pain and the enormity of his loss. The computers in his room hadn't cost much to build, but he hadn't had much to begin with. They'd been nearly everything he owned, save for his comics, a few clothes — and the war-axe. Oh, the war-axe. That was an entertaining vision, picking it up and swinging it over his head like a dark elf, the whistle of its blade slicing the air, the meaty thunk as it hit the men.

He knew it was ridiculous. He hadn't been in a fight since he was ten years old. He'd been a vegetarian until last year! He wasn't going to hit anyone with a war-axe. It was as useless as his smashed computers.

Gradually, he slowed his pace. He was out of the central area around the train station now, in the outer ring of the town center, where it was dark and as quiet as it ever got. He leaned against the steel shutters over a grocery market and put his hands on his thighs and let his sore head droop.

John, Matthew's father, had been unusual among their friends — a Cantonese who succeeded in the new Shenzhen. When Premier Deng changed the rules so that the Pearl River Delta became the world's factory, his family's ancestral province had filled overnight with people from the provinces. They'd "jumped into the sea"— left safe government factory jobs to seek their fortune here on the south Chinese coast — and everything had changed for Matthew's family. His grandfather, a Christian minister who'd been sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution, had never made the adjustment — a problem that struck many of the native Cantonese, who seemed to stand still as the outsiders raced past them to become rich and powerful.

But not Matthew's father. The old man had started off as a driver for a shoe factory boss. He'd learned to drive on the job, nearly cracking up the car more than once, though the owner didn't seem to mind — after all, the boss had never ridden in a car before he'd made it big in Shenzhen. He got his break one day when the patternmaker was too sick to work and all production slowed to a crawl while the girls who worked on the line argued about the best way to cut the leather for a new order that had come in.

John loved to tell this story. He'd heard the argument go back and forth for days as the line jerked along slowly, and he'd sat on his chair and thought, and thought, and then he'd stood up and closed his eyes and pictured the calm ocean until the thunder of his heartbeat slowed to a normal beat. Then he'd walked into the owner's office and said, "Boss, I can show you how to cut those hides."

It was no easy task. The hides were all slightly different shapes — cows weren't identical, after all — and parts of them were higher grade than others. The shoe itself, an Italian men's loafer, needed six different pieces for each side, and only some of them were visible. The parts that were inside the shoe didn't need to come from the finest leather, but the parts outside did. All this Matthew's father had absorbed while sitting in his chair and listening to the arguments. He'd always loved to draw, always had a good head for space and design.

And before his boss could throw him out of the office, he'd plucked up his courage and seized a pen off the desk and rooted a crumpled cigarette package out of the trash — expensive foreign cigarettes, affected by all the factory owners as a show of wealth — torn it open and drawn a neat cowhide, and quickly shown how the shoes could be fit to the hide with a minimum of wastage, a design that would get ten pairs of shoes per hide.

"Ten?" the boss said.

"Ten," John said, proudly. He knew that the most that Master Yu, the regular patternmaker, ever got out of a hide was nine. "Eleven, if you use a big hide, or if you're making small shoes."

"You can cut this?"

Now, before that day, John had never cut a hide in his life, had no idea how to slice the supple leather that came back from the tanner. But that morning he'd risen two hours early, before anyone else was awake, and he'd taken his leather jacket, a graduation present from his father that he'd owned and treasured for ten years, and he'd taken the sharpest knife in the kitchen, and he'd sliced the jacket to ribbons, practicing until he could make the knife slice the leather in the same reliable, efficient arcs that his eyes and mind could trace over them.

"I can try," he said, with modesty. He was nervous about his boldness. His boss wasn't a nice man, and he'd fired many employees for insubordination. If he fired Matthew's father, he would be out a job and a jacket. And the rent was due, and the family had no savings.

The boss looked at him, looked at the sketch. "Okay, you try."

And that was the day that John stopped being Driver Fong and became Master Fong, the junior patternmaker at the Infinite Quality Shoe Factory. Less than a year later, he was the head patternmaker, and the family thrived.

Matthew had heard this story so many times growing up that he could recite it word-for-word with his father. It was more than a story: it was the family legend, more important than any of the history he'd learned in school. As stories went, it was a good one, but Matthew was determined that his own life would have an even better story still. Matthew would not be the second Master Fong. He would be Boss Fong, the first — a man with his own factory, his own fortune.

And like his father, Matthew had a gift.

Like his father, Matthew could look at a certain kind of problem and see the solution. And the problems Matthew could solve involved killing monsters and harvesting their gold and prestige items, better and more efficiently than anyone else he'd ever met or heard of.

Matthew was a gold farmer, but not just one of those guys who found themselves being approached by an internet cafe owner and offered seven or eight RMB to keep right on playing, turning over all the gold they won to the boss, who'd sell it on by some mysterious process. Matthew was Master Fong, the gold farmer who could run a dungeon once and tell you exactly the right way to run it again to get the maximum gold in the minimum time. Where a normal farmer might make fifty gold in an hour, Matthew could make five hundred. And if you watched Matthew play, you could do it too.

Mr. Wing had quickly noticed Matthew's talent. Mr. Wing didn't like games, didn't care about the legends of Iceland or England or India or Japan. But Mr. Wing understood how to make boys work. He displayed their day's take on big boards at both ends of his factory, treated the top performers to lavish meals and baijiu parties in private rooms at his karaoke club where there were beautiful girls. Matthew remembered these evenings through a bleary haze: a girl on either side of him on a sofa, pressed against him, their perfume in his nose, refilling his glass as Mr. Wing toasted him for a hero, extolling his achievements. The girls oohed and aahed and pressed harder against him. Mr. Wing always laughed at him the next day, because he'd pass out before he could go with one of the girls into an even more private room.

Mr. Wing made sure all the other boys knew about this failing, made sure that they teased "Master Fong" about his inability to hold his liquor, his shyness around girls. And Matthew saw exactly what Boss Wing was doing: setting Matthew up as a hero, above his friends, then making sure that his friends knew that he wasn't that much of a hero, that he could be toppled. And so they all farmed gold harder, for longer hours, eating dumplings at their computers and shouting at each other over their screens late into the night and the cigarette haze.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from For the Win by Cory Doctorow, Patrick Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Copyright © 2010 Cory Doctorow. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Part I: The gamers and their games, the workers at their work,
Part II: Hard work at play,
Part III: Ponzi,
Acknowledgments,

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For the Win 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many things to say about this book - it combines all of the things that made one of Doctorow's earlier books (Little Brother) great, and throws in some economics, a gritty world, awesome characters, and a well thought out plot. The only way this book could be better would be if it was free. Which it is. Just go over to his site, and download the PDF or .txt file. It really isn't that hard to put it on your nook. Overall, one of the best books I've read in the last few years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow... if i wanted an economics textbook, i would buy one. Good plotline, good characters, although they were not developed much. Things worked way to conveiniently, and huge detail was given to unimportant things while no detail was given to important things. For example, there are some parts of the book that spend pages and pages explaining tons of economic principles, but when they talk about putting major plans in action, getting fake id's, sneaking accross an entire ocean, or setting a background, there is very little. I might be being a little harsh, but i just couldnt get over the book spending a good chunk of its pages poorly explaining economics at a 7th grade level and that things were so easy and convienent for the characters.
jshrop on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For The Win is Cory Doctorow's second "Teen" novel, but stands up well with adult audiences as well. The story centers around gold farming in multiplayer online games, but features many themes rooted in current events. Most importantly, Doctorow does an outstanding job putting financial markets into perspective for any audience, and gives analogies for derivatives trading and market behavior that anyone can understand. This is where the novel excels, in addition to telling a great story packed with adventure, action, and geek-ery, there is an underlying thread that is not time, or age, or knowledge dependent. This novel tells a story of teens, and even children, working in-game for bosses in the same way that children work sewing tennis shoes in sweat shops. There is a movement to organize workers using the borderless realm of the internet, and create a union. It shows us how important and powerful the internet is for communicating beyond nationalities and race, to reach everyone and make them realize they are really no different then their fellow humans toiling across the globe. He even incorporates the character of a young, bright-eyed economist working with the union, which gives the audience a chance to see a fresh perspective on markets and supply/demand interactions that they may not be exposed to yet. I love all of Cory Doctorow's work, and this is yet another fine example. It is very fitting in the time period it has come out, but really will stand up as time goes on, and the economy changes yet again. Even though this was targeted to the teen audience, as was Little Brother, it will resonate with adults, especially with older geeks like myself!)
kreierso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doctorow takes on the real-world economic implications of computer game currencies. Matthew is a Chinese gold farmer, one of the thousands who play role-playing games for hours in order to accumulate virtual money, points, and treasures that can be sold ¿ for real money ¿ to other players looking for quick power-ups in games such as World of Warcraft. Matthew¿s is just one of several stories Doctorow follows as gamers, gold farmers, and those who would take advantage of them both meet in virtual worlds and eventually in the real world when player Big Sister Nor, in Singapore, decides to organize the Webblies, the ¿Industrial Workers of the World Wide Web.¿ An interesting take on the global economic implications that gaming could have in the "real world" however, I found the stories presented a little too over the top and at times I felt I was being lectured at. That being said, people who enjoyed his first novel Little Brother, will not be disappointed in his latest novel.
likesbooksrs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gamers, economics, intrigue, action and suspense! One of the best books I've ever read!
pokylittlepuppy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chris brought a copy home from work for me, hurray.I actually liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I expected it to make me cranky, but I really enjoyed reading it. When I thought hard about it, though, it was missing something... revelatory, I think, that's keeping me from rounding up the rating. In my heart.One thing I knew right away, though -- it really is overlong. This story doesn't have to be 500 pages. To its credit, there isn't any thread or character I immediately think of cutting, but there's just a lot. This book is a ton of people. Maybe a trim in each region would have helped. (Yasmin & Ashok in India and Matthew in China are nice but not critical. Conversely, more about Big Sister Nor would have been good.) The funny, exclamation-pointy authorial economy lessons work pretty well, and they lend some seriousness to the plot points, but they do stick out a bit too.But generally speaking, the deeply international setting is wonderful, and written like the author has been on the ground in those places (not sure?), the slang is cool, there's a lot of day-to-day culture that feels right, and the sociological take is almost never off-key. (There are perhaps a dozen too many "chin-waggles".)The best parts just stick out really well. Jie and her "Jiandi" folk-hero internet pirate radio show fame in China is amazing. That whole long, long, long scene when she first scoops Lu up and keeps him safe in one of her secret apartments and puts him on the air is probably the coolest part of the book. I also really liked Wei-Dong ("Leonard") and his flight from American boarding school, and his voyage in a teched-out shipping container. He gets the only kid-and-parents family drama in the book and that's done nicely, though feels a bit out of place in this book about teenagers, the internet, and bad business.In general, this felt like a great book for this author to write because it's awesome to have so much internet in a novel, written by someone who isn't only doing research, who feels it too. (This reminds me of the item on my wish list that is John Green write a book about internet friends.) Pretty much all of this stuff is real, or like what's real, and it's a deep level of detail but written really invitingly. Most of it isn't in my experience, but enough is tangential that it's exciting or funny or touching when it should be. All the hacker-ish stuff is totally thrilling to someone who's never done any of it, I won't lie. You lost me at "proxy", but ok I am totally flipping the page! The level of totally real espionage needed just to stay online, it's great, portrayed really well, and relevant to actual real places.The only thing is, the thrust of the book, unionizing the gamers and this mission's clashes with authority... I'm not sure any of this was... necessary? I mean it's set up to make a lot of sense, and we can see in the story how these workers are exploited (and just, charming to read this YA book about labor organization you guys). But I think the workers of the world thing connects in only a limited way. Characters die (one of which was surprising, one of which was not). And this ambition kind of hurts its ending -- the scope is so big that waiting for all the laces to tie up is sort of ho-hum, eventually.Moments I liked:"'You violate the social contract, the other person doesn't know what to do about it. There's no script for it. There's a moment where time stands still, and in that moment, you can empty out his pockets.'"And:"Wei-Dong loved his parents. He wanted their approval. He trusted their judgment. That was why he'd been so freaked out when he discovered that they'd been plotting to send him away. If he hadn't cared about them, none of it would have mattered."And, a joke worthy of repeating on the internet:"He could feel everything that was happening in the games he ran. He could tell when there was a run on gold in Svartalfheim Warriors,
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Poor teens around the world are working in gaming sweatshops as gold farmers, collecting game gold and making money for their bosses. The game gold makes up some of the largest economies in the world. Tired of mistreatment, the web workers form an international union.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best YA books I've read this year. You want to understand the world children live in, what they can do for hours and hours in a game, this is a book for you. Do you want to be enlightened to the fact that sweatshops exist in all shapes and sizes? This is the book for you. Are you interested in economics, stocks, ponzi schemes and other scams, unionization and it's future? This is definitely the book for you.With a patient hand, Cory Doctorow gives clear, easy to understand examples of everything I talked about in my previous paragraph. Even if you are not a gamer, an explanation is always handy when gamer terms are brought into this story. If you are a teenager, then no worries - every single scheme is detailed out with easy to understand analogies. The story flips back and forth between China, India, the US .. the entire globe. Everywhere children are being mistreated by the "bosses", those monopolizing the gold farming market - but these kids are good. They're really good, and now they are demanding the decent rights that every worker should have. This is not your typical video gaming set of kids - these are children who play 15+ hours a DAY farming the same area over and over - why? Because they love the games.I could seriously rattle on and on about how much I loved this book, but I want everyone to read it. Gamer or no, this book should be on your list - give it to the teenagers you know, recommend it. I feel like, for the first time, I have some understanding with regards to how economics works .. all because of a book about gaming.
chrisod on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In For The Win, Cory Doctorow takes on the world of online gaming. Specifically, he uses online gaming and gold farming to write a near future novel built around the idea of oppressed and abused gold farmers in China and India needing to unionize to get a fair shake from the bosses. It¿s more interesting that it sounds, really. For today¿s under-educated teens, they¿ll get a pretty good education in economics as Cory frequently steps away from the plot to explain the economics behind gaming. In his previous novel, Doctorow took hacking and made it heroic. This time he does the same thing with online gaming. Close minded conservatives will hate the book because of the positive depiction of unions, and to be fair, even I think Doctorow could have put just a little of the big business point of view into the story. It¿s not always 100% about simple exploitation of the workers. It¿s a riveting story built around near future technology, economics, gaming, and union organization. Little Brother is still my favorite book by Doctorow, but For The Win is a close second.
SystemicPlural on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doctorow is one of the most current near future science fiction writers. This is a great tale about gold farmers (people - usually in poor countries - who play games to build up game gold and then sell it to rich westerners) and their struggle to unionise themselves. I enjoyed the book, as I usually do with Doctorow, however it also left me a little unsatisfied and seems a bit naive in places.
flouncyninja on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There was a good story in there somewhere. It just got bogged down by the rambling, repetitive explanations of economics and the inner workings of speculative markets. I thought most of the characters were developed well with the exception of Big Sister Nor, which is kind of funny since she's the character that holds all the story lines together.I'm not sure how this is considered a book for 12-17 year olds. If I'd read/listened to this book at that age, I would have quit pretty qui...moreThere was a good story in there somewhere. It just got bogged down by the rambling, repetitive explanations of economics and the inner workings of speculative markets. I thought most of the characters were developed well with the exception of Big Sister Nor, which is kind of funny since she's the character that holds all the story lines together.I'm not sure how this is considered a book for 12-17 year olds. If I'd read/listened to this book at that age, I would have quit pretty quickly. I get that the majority of characters are young teens, but the intricacies of the plot and the before mentioned economic and investment lessons would have lost my attention.Which isn't to say that I won't try more Doctorow. I've heard good things about his other books, but this one just didn't gel well. Too many side notes that seemed to go on forever, tearing me out of the story as a whole. It's hard to get into a story that has five or six plot lines with entirely different sets of characters as it is. Throw in long, rambling, repetitive tangents and things are going to fall apart in places.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the first half of this book, but for me, the second half bogged down.Imagine a world a few years forward from ours. On-line gaming is a really, really big deal. The amount of money moving around within the games is huge. It's all play money, of course. Except there are significant numbers of people willing to trade real money for it."Gold farms" are a booming business-- groups spend long hours playing to earn game cash and other rewards, which then get sold to players looking for a boost. At first glance, it seems like a dream come true-- get paid to play video games. However, sweatshop conditions for these farmers take the pleasure away, and the demanding bosses with out of game enforcers take away the possibility of starting your own business.The book follows several people:Matthew is a young man in China, who is attempting to set up his own crew farming gold. His old bosses are not pleased.Wei-Dong is an American high school student. He's renamed himself to fit in better with his Chinese buddies he plays with all night. He finds himself living on his own when he runs away from his family, who are about to ship him to a school that will help him stay on track, away from any distractions.Mala lives in India, and commands her own army of players. When they first are offered money to play, it seems too good to be true. They find themselves deeper and deeper in a situation far less pleasant than expected.More characters are introduced throughout the book, and I was overwhelmed by them all near the end. There were so many, each with a role to play.At the beginning of the book, I loved the look at the interplay between the real and gaming worlds. The look at the meaning of money was fascinating and thought provoking. Bringing in politics and unions also kept causing me to stop and think about it. When the game-makers views of the issues were added, I loved seeing that side. Eventually, it got to be a little too much.Overall, that's my opinion of the book-- too much of too many good things.
PilotBob on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't read this any more. It sounds more like some political statement than a good story. I grabbed this because Little Brother was really good and moved quickly. This one just dragged on and on. I gave up on it a little less than 1/2 way though. I just didn't care about the characters or the story enough. I'm glad I got this as an ebook version for free and didn't have to pay for it.
DrBrewhaha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A story of how online gamers manipulate games in order to turn virtual gold into real money. The gamers are led to unionize and face challenges from their criminal bosses and their oppressive governments. Interesting idea, but Doctorow fails to make the story interesting. The characters don't seem to be developed very well and the story drags quite a bit, finally working its way to a lukewarm ending.
Jellyn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read most of this book from the free epub available on Cory Doctorow's website. My first ever e-book!Unfortunately, I noticed a number of errors, and not just in the area of typos. That, and the repetition of some phrases and information made the reading experience less enjoyable than it could've been. I compared it some to my print version and it seems at least some of the errors were fixed. So I can only assume the epub was from a proof version of the book.But apart from all that, I did like it pretty well. I prefer the short story, "Enda's Game" to this, which is based on it. Kids are being used as gold farmers and other workers in various games. Adults and big business get rich off of their backs. They get paid poorly and have no rights. The story's set in America, China, India, and Singapore.I felt like I wanted more of the action to take place in the games rather than 'the real world'. And it would've been interesting if we didn't have _any_ white boys as main characters. It feels sort of like a crutch to me. If the story needed an American kid, he didn't need to be white. He didn't need to be male.But it's a very believable world. I could really see this happening. The near-future-ness of it makes me wonder how much is _already_ happening. And I learned a new word! 'av'. Yea, somehow I knew PvP and PK and some other game terms, but had never picked up 'av'. And then, of course, I immediately ran into it again in This Book is Overdue when she was talking about Second Life.Yea, I'm hip.I'd probably rank this as Cory's second-best book, behind Little Brother. But I haven't read Makers yet. (My Sony e-reader won't display the epub of that. Grr. May have to try the pdf.)Oh, and my Clarion classmate, Keyan Bowes, got a shout-out in the acknowledgements!
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All around the world, people are playing games, battling for online gold, jewels, points, levels and status. And in poor nations, there are players who play for these treasures, but then their employers trade the virtual gold for real money -- from those who want to pay to skip to higher-level play immediately. This is the story of brilliant Mala in India, Matthew in Shenzen, Leonard (aka Wei-Dong) from California, and Big Sister Nor in rural China, who are all trying to break out of the sweatshops where low pay, fear and the threat of violence hangs over them if they do not earn enough every day. Big Sister Nor wants every "gold farmer" to join a union, to protect the rights of those who work from abusive employers and allow them to earn a decent wage and work decent hours, but those who make the money off this scheme will use any means necessary to keep things as they are -- including murder. The plan is to crash the virtual economies of every game in the world, all at once... if they can pull it off. Great for gamers and anyone who needs a challenging read with a big-picture view, 8th grade and up.
flemmily on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not so sure this is really a YA book. It's sprawling fiction which reads more like a techno-philosophical novel for adults. There are multiple plot lines, and the stories of the various characters are peppered with bits of "Cory Doctorow explains it all for you." Doctorow has a unique perspective on how cutting edge technology intersects with history, sociology, and economic theory. I don't think there's another person who would be able to mix theory with fiction in such a way.Unfortunately to me For the Win is a little too big, there are too many characters, too much theory, and the whole thing ends up too muddled. I loved Little Brother, and I think that book was much more focused, and ultimately more compelling.
mbg0312 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this, but it didn't have quite the emotional depth and resonance of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. And he felt he had to cram in a little too much economics into the exposition, which felt a bit forced. Still, I enjoyed this effort, and its depictions of labor unrest in the developing world felt as real as anything I've read on the subject. That said, the labor organizers and activists came off as a little too good to be true. Not to say the labor organizers and activists aren't on the side of the angels, but they seemed a bit idealized here. Anyhow, generally a good read, and I recommend it, but the depth of characters didn't quite bring it to the 4 star level.
librarianbryan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So the kids in MMORPGs from all over the world start a union and take on game companies and repressive governments with mixed results. It is really a thinly veiled economics lesson, and Doctorow's fatal flaw this time around is doing what YA authors are supposed not to do: talk down to the their readers. There are clearly times when the narrative stops and there is a break for the "okay kids, now it is time for a lesson" nonfiction passage. Of course the in-game economics are the same as RL economics and there are thinly veiled explanations of our nation's most recent crisis of capitalism. So if someone reading this is unconcerned with aesthetics, it could be a great book for kids who want to learn about economics or adults that want to learn about MMORPGs. Doctorow is surprisingly neutral towards labor issues considering how polemical he is on other issues, even in his YA books. This is the best fiction of his I've tried so far. There are still too many characters, many of which I don't understand the motivations of, and a lot of the action takes place "in game." (Should I be enough of a jerk to mock: OH MAN THAT IS AN AWESOME KEYSTROKE!!!!) But the thing is, and this is a major theme of the book, if millions are playing the games and I'm not that just means I'm a dinosaur and I can make my jokes as I whistle past the cultural graveyard.
KaneH More than 1 year ago
Some books are more than entertainment, and this is one of them. While it's a multi-faceted, absorbing story of global proportions, it has a powerful message that resonates in our world. There are many self-serving people that take advantage of their fellow humans, in every way they can. This book shows how to effectively work against the predators, by standing together. Individually, a person can be isolated and exploited, but as a group, people can cooperate for a better world. Here is a shining example, on a massive scale. The narrative displays an astonishing breadth of knowledge, taking us on an exploration into worlds alien to our culture. Loved the sensory detail that puts us definitely into a location, whether it be Orange County or Mumbai.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For the win by Cory Doctorow is a action novel about online gamers and their quests in the game. Also it is about peoples outside life and how the game affected them in a positive and a negative way. The people who play the game are either working for someone who wants the people who aren't good at the game to stop playing or they are playing because of their friends. Its certain things that i do not like and like about this book. For instance i don't like how the book jumps all over the place to one person in a different city or state. I also don't like how it talks about 8 different people in one part of the story. On a good not i like how the story was written and how the author used descriptive language to help me imagine what was going on in the game that the characters were playing. Despite the the fact that the story jumped all over the place I would recommend this book to people who like role playing online games and know what its like to go battle a monster with some friends. I will definitely read another book by Cory Doctorow
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zachary schrap More than 1 year ago
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