In Real Life
By Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
First Second, 2014. 192 pgs. Graphic novel
In Real Life is a graphic novel written by Cory Doctorow (author of Little Brother) and illustrated by Jen Wang. In the book Anda, a teen girl who has just moved to a new town, begins playing a MMORPG. Her identity starts to become intermingled with her online character in a positive way as her self esteem grows and she begins making friends online. While helping a friend on a crusade to stop the gold farmers in the game, Anda begins to interact with a gold-farming player in China for whom farming generates his only real-life income. Anda begins to see how gaming can affect our real lives more than we may think possible, in both good ways and bad.
Anda's personal narrative is woven together with a subtle examination of gaming economics and her character is likable and experiences growth. This solid storytelling was complimented by the lovely illustrations of Jen Wang. All of the images were beautifully done and stunning to look at. They helped create the feel of excitement one can get while playing when everything feels like it is really happening to you and the lines between reality and the virtual world become blurred. This is a nice supplement to the story line which shows that these games not only feel real to us but can impact our real lives outside of the game. Recommended for people interested in gaming and fans of Doctorow's Little Brother.