For The Win by Cory Doctorow Book Review

I digressed too much as I was writing this. So you’ll just have to click continue on reading, because the intro got too wonky to use as an intro.  It’s extra long to compensate for something ;D

Failed Intro

S(A)O GUYS (point at which I lose all my non-existing feminist readers)…. I’m back.  Except, not with more anime.  Why? Because I’ve been reading text-only material: light novels and actual novels: nothing one of a kind for the Japanese like anime or manga.  Yes, I know anime blog not talking about anime = wtf.  It’s okay guys.  We’ll get through this.

I digress, mid-paragraph.

All this reading has inadvertently caused me to stop watching anime for a catalog of reasons.  For example, I read SAO as a light novel.  It made SAO too predictable.  The anime wasn’t that good either.  So, I read Haganai which was epic as a novel but sucked as an anime


which will get another chance next year

*cue smiley face*


*”good work. sad face now redirect me to my D drive”




this joke was for computer programmers only





But then one thing led to another.

Now, here I am blogging about an non-Japanese book about macroeconomics, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and MMORPGs.  Yeah all of that up there, before this was supposed to be my intro.  Both you and I know that would totally not work especially with that overly spaced out computer programming joke.

boom, I just made this remotely related to anime.  I’m a genius.

Want to see me do it again?  With Facebook, Twitter, 4chan, Tumblr, and MySpace all at once?

Want me to do it again except with My Little Pony? Me neither.


We’ve got essentially 4 groups that the story focuses on.  One is in Dharavai, India at a small gaming cafe.  One is in Shezhen, China with a group of Chinese game-gold farmers.  The third is a Singaporean trio hell bent on making an online internet union.  Finally, we’ve got the white teenage tag-along despite technically being in the 2nd group.

Group 1: General Robotwallah, Yasmin, and Ashok

In Dharavai, India, there is a young girl living in the slums.  Her name is Mala.  She’s good at video games.  Really good.  So good that she could afford to quit school, live in the upper echelon of slumciety, and PLAY VIDEO GAMES ALL DAY.  Here’s the catch.  She still gets sexual harassed by her boss.  She gets threatened by her boss physically every so often, and the money she’s making is only because her work is corporate sabotage and also illegal.

Her best friend is Yasmin.  Yasmin likes the game just as much as Mala.  Mala is better than Yasmin, but Yasmin is just a few steps behind Mala.  Problem is that Yasmin has talked with The Singaporean trio who’ve been talking about worker’s rights in video games.  She believes the trio; Yasmin thinks Mala and every video game player working for money could have a better life.  Mala wouldn’t have to worry about sexual harassment and her family getting killed by her boss.  But, Yasmin is alone.  She’s the only one who believes that a video gamer union in the entire city of Dharavai is possible.

Ashok is an economist.  He believes in a video gamer union; he believes in a union including ALL workers connected by the Internet.  He believes he has a plan that could topple the video game monopolies of the world.   He’s part of the union made by The Singaporean trio.  He’s a man with a plan to topple 3 of the biggest economies in the world.

Group 2: Matthew, Lu, Jiandi

Matthew is a gold farming genius.  He runs through a dungeon, takes careful notes, and runs it again in the most optimal fashion.  He does it again and again.  Then, he takes all the video game gold he makes and turns it into real life money.  There are games where you can actually do that by the way.  Like this one.  Or this one.  He makes enough to own over 8 pc desktops with a mouse and keyboard for each of them.  He owns his own apartment.  He didn’t before.  He used to work for an abusive Mr. Wing who worked him like a dog making money on video games.  Matthew didn’t have his own room, but slept in a dorm working for a man who gave him little pay, fed him only dumplings, and gave him no rights.  Now, Mr. Wing is back to get Matthew to work for him again.  By any means.  Matthew and his group are going to fight back with the help of The Singaporean trio.  Matthew and his team of gamers are going to show the world that video gamers had rights too.  That all workers had rights.  And the Internet was going to help them.

Lu is part of Matthew’s gang.  He used to work as a security guard.  Until, the company he worked for shut down without prior notice.  He wondered into a net cafe one day.  Out of work.  Out of control of his world.  He met Mr. Wing, and now he gone out with Matthew as well.  He loves video games.  Not for winning.  Not for the money like Matthew.  He just loves to play, and he thinks Matthew is the one who will let him play for the most.

Jiandi doesn’t mince words.  She’s headstrong, confident, beautiful, and powerful.  Jiandi is a radio talk show host helping girls working in factories solve their problems.  Millions of factory girls listen to her everyday.  She’s been on the run for years with multiple bases where she hosts her show.  She knows The Singaporean trio.  She wants to unite the factory girls who uses the Internet to listen to her talk show with The Singaporean trio’s video game union.  To make a union of unions.

Group 3: The Singaporean trio, Big Sister Nor and her Merry Bunch

Big Sister Nor is an idealist who believes in the justice, fairness, and equality.  She has a plan.  A plan to join all unions together to make a union of the Internet.  She has people all over the world spreading the dream: the dream of a better life with better wages.  Her video game union is spreading linking Group 1 to Group 2 to Group 3 to Group 4 to groups all over the world that weren’t focused on in the book.

The Mighty Krang is BSN’s sidekick.  He’s leading the team when Big Sister needs a break.  One of the many who dream the same dream as BSN.  He would do anything for the dream.  Literally.

Justbob is a girl who knows to get the crowd roaring.  In person, she’s clearly a girl with style.  In game, she’s even better; she is a master of public opinion.  She rallies the video game union and keeps their morale.  Just because her description is only a hair longer than Krang doesn’t mean she’s unimportant, lacking in dedication, or stupid.  You’ll see she’s quite the opposite.

Group 4: The White Kid.

Wei Dong is white.  He’s actually a 17 year old kid named Leonard who wakes up at 1 every morning to play video games with Matthew’s gang.  He is that kid who all his friends and family think is addicted to video games.  He is that kid whose supposed to represent the sheltered kids who play video games for fun predominantly in the West.  He’s the bloody minority and is as awkward as being the only white kid in a 10 man group.


Yeah, I basically have a hard on for all these characters.  I get it.  They seem perfect.  Actually, none of them are.  They just get a lot of support from a lot of different places.  To be honest, I read the book and felt it was too… perfect.  The story knit way too well.  The story had its plot twists, troubles, violent abuse, and very real sounding problems.  But once they went on paper, it just didn’t feel right.  Maybe, I haven’t heard enough of the stories about video game gold farmers.  Maybe, I’m just too distant from all this and could only relate to the Wei Dong.  But if I’m supposed to relate to Wei Dong, I’m not going to because I’m not some kid who… I’m not gonna spoil anything.  You’ll find out.  But what happens to him, isn’t something that seems either logical or probable.  I felt like 60% of this story happened because of luck which isn’t what it should feel like for any story.


The story is still all it’s hyped to be.  If I were to describe For The Win, it would be the book that Steig Larsson would write if he wanted to write an action thriller about video games.  The book is that good with its use of creating suspense through the jump between the four groups.  The story telling is just brilliantly well constructed.  The highlights of the book would be the characterless monologues about macroeconomics in the book.  I forgot to mention those which really pulled me in to the book.  Those lectures were extremely informative, funny, and well-explained.  The lectures don’t blend in as well as those in Steig Larsson novels, but they still do a pretty good job.  However, Cory Doctorow isn’t someone you shouldn’t count out and just compare to someone more famous even though I just did.  He’s a writer of his own.  I just wished the story was constructed a little better overall.  I could discuss the many details that irked me and spoil the ending for you, but I don’t want to do that.  I’ll just tell you that this isn’t Steig Larsson international bestseller level, but it’s a step from it.  Not only that it’s

FREE. Yes, completely free.

So, go read it and determine for yourself.  Why?  Why not.  It’s free.  The link is an inch think, and don’t worry it won’t do this to you.  The story is good like I just told you so, unless you’re a hipster among hipsters who only read sleeper international hits.  Then, go read you’re untranslated version first edition The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo for the tenth time. and fuck you.

tl;dr the shift+alt+a shortcut for link creating is a godsend.   Yeah, I’ll post more anime shit some time later this week.  If my video player will work for once, that is.

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