[Book review] For the win – Cory Doctorow

For those who went by my book recommendation of Ready Player One, you would know that Cory Doctorow was mentioned in the novel. So here I am, reading a book by Cory Doctorow!

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For the Win is one of those multiple pov books that can be terrible when executed terribly. Lucky for Doctorow, this one was done pretty well. The characters are distinct enough that you can figure it out.

The overarching plot is that people in eastern countries are subjected to terrible working conditions and we have someone named Big Sister Nor who wants to unite all unions to stick up for each other rather than each union only being responsible for their own sectors. The multiple povs are of different people working as gold farmers in different countries but treated equally as terrible and viewed as expendable by their bosses. We also have a Jewish high school kid who is a Sinophile who obviously, comes to the aid of his guild mates in China. And we have the pov of a person who actually works behind the scenes in these games.

Doctorow weaves a complicated but eye-opening story on video games, gold farming, and the economy. Seriously, it’s like Investorpedia using game terms with all the explanation of in-game economics that’s actually incorporated in the novel!

I highly recommend this book to people who like MMORPGs or want a book that will make you cry. We always hear about sweatshops and we all bleed our hearts for them BUT without putting a name or face to it, it’s still something that happens in a distant country. This novel (although fictional in its accounts), gives you that personal connection with the people on the other side: the woman who made your Nike shoes, the one who laboriously painted that replica painting you have, etc.

3/5 // Cross-posted on my book review blog: She Reads (anndreachan.com)

[Book review] NPCS – Drew Hayes

Have you ever played a game and wondered about the NPCs? What’s their story? I’m talking about the bar keeps and the people you bump into the street. They come with canned NPC text based on your responses to them. In the next book I’m reviewing after this, it mentions that they hire mechanical turks to be the NPCs and dole out rewards or quests to the player. I don’t think that is happening right now but Amazon does employ Mechanical Turks to do mundane stuff over the internet. (You can look it up)

What about table top role playing games?

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In the novel NPCs by Drew Hayes, we start off with 4 characters in a bar yammering on about their adventure when they all pass out. They had eaten some harmless mushrooms earlier but when partnered with alcohol, it became deadly. We are then introduced to 4 new characters. Gabrielle, Eric, [Replace 1], and [Replace 2]. They found out that the four adventurers who had died had a summons from the king in the nearby town who was known to be ruthless and burned down villages. They figured that if it was made known that the adventurers had died in their village, he would lay them to waste. According to the summons, the party consisted of a barbarian, rogue, wizard and a paladin. Since it mentioned no names, the four decided to take their place.

On their way to the King, they were ambushed by a group of goblins and taken hostage. It wasn’t as simple as they thought it would be. The rest of the book follows their adventure to the King, and then to the King’s actual quest – all the while, maintaining their disguises.

It was a pretty fun read. If you like role playing games (D&D), you would like it. If you don’t know a lick about RPGs, I say – stay away!

[Book review] Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

For my book club pick for the month of February, I picked Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. But I had my reservations. The group didn’t like my last book (Dark Places by Gillian Flynn) and they definitely did not like the book I chose prior to that (Kicking the sky by Anthony De Sa). I realized I had to cater to them so I picked something that I normally wouldn’t read. Books about gaming. I spent a few days on a Goodreads thread chatting with other bibliophiles and they all supported my RP1 decision. OK.

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They did not fail me.

Ready Player One was great. I enjoyed it so much that I am forcing BP to listen to the audbiobook with me just so I could experience it all over again!!!

We start off in the not-so-distant future. The world is pretty messed up. The housing situation has become so bad that people have piled trailers on top of another and that’s considered a home. (I’m not saying trailers are not homes but having them stacked 20+ high just seems like a terribad idea. That’s right. Terribad.) The world is so bad that there’s a 2 year wait period just to get a job at McDonald’s! (Again, not like getting a job is McDonald’s is easy but I don’t think it would take two years now.)

One of the main themes in this novel is escapism. The world is so bad that people have escaped to this virtual reality world called the OASIS where people go to school, spend their leisurely hours, and even work. Our main character Wade Watts is an overweight, pimply, geeky kid who lacked social skills in real life but was doing a little better in the OASIS.

The creator of the OASIS, James D. Halliday, passed away with no heirs and has left his entire fortune and company up for grabs. The catch? He’s hidden his treasure within his game filled with many sectors, and planets. He left one clue for the public and everyone has a chance to decipher it. The egg hunters (gunters) have dedicated their lives to solving the first clue but 5 years have passed and no one has found it until Parzival (Wade’s avatar’s name) deciphered the first clue. His clues all relate to James Halliday’s love of the 80s, when he grew up, (told you it wasn’t that far into the future) and video games so all these kids in the future are rewatching, and replaying all these things from the 70s-90s – mostly 80s.

You can already guess that the rest of the book is about Parzival looking for clues and solving them while avoiding other gunters and obstacles in the process. Does he get the treasure at the end of the quest? You have to read to find out!

It was definitely a fun read and I recommend it to anyone who likes gaming, sci-fi, virtual reality, and riddles!!

And if you’re not quite sure you want to dedicate 9 hours to reading, then pick up the audio book on Audible! It’s narrated by Wil Wheaton. I don’t really know what he’s famous for but my friend’s boyfriend looks like him… Oh. He’s from Star Trek. Lol. And he’s also mentioned in the book so can you imagine reading about yourself out loud? Ha.

4/5 // Cross-posted on my book review blog: She Reads (anndreachan.com)