Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I really loved it, proven by the fact that I had, for the first time in a long time, a late-night reading binge where I could not put the book down for the final third of it, staying up until the wee hours on a night that I really did need to get up early.
For The Win follows several characters, a so-cal high-school nerd, an Indian slum girl, a Chinese 20-something former factory worker, who share in common that they play MMOs, and do so for money - as gold farmers or similar. They share in common that they are tired of their rights being abused, in one case by parents, in others by mafioso-type bosses.
They then meet a mysterious figure online who proposes to organize them into a union. Postulating that while the MMO EULAs stipulate that anyone can get kicked off at any time for any reason, kicking EVERYONE off will be a nose-severed-to-spite-face thing, they team together to orchestrate a virtual walk-out.
From there the book takes off and becomes one part Halting State, one part Hoffa, one part Matrix and adds a pinch of Tarantino. If that wasn't enough, there's a parable about Wall Street and the mortgage crisis.
Here's the thing though. Cory is usually thought of as a science fiction author but I'm not sure For The Win counts as science fiction. The book is set in the near future and there are some passing references to tech that doesn't yet exist today, but most of the book is absolutely plausible today. The premise isn't based on tech getting to a certain point - its already there - but more on just the idea of a Hoffa-style union-forming organization happening online. Totally feasible, just difficult.
Just as Halting State provided us with some glimpse as to the future of games, For The Win provides with us with a glimpse of a near future where the one-sided EULA may come under scrutiny of the customer, and the customer may say "No."
Great entertainment, and a good perspective on the future of MMOs.