In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Standalone. First Second (Oct. 2014) Own
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. 
But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake. 

Video games and economics combine to create a beautifully illustrated and globally aware graphic novel. When I first discovered In Real Life I was aware that it was about video games and that's something I've never read about before. I also was always so drawn to the cover because it's just so cool. When I finally had In Real Life in my hand, I instantly fell for the illustrations inside which was no surprise. Jen Wang seriously knows how to create vibrant, lively art. 

The preface really gave me an idea of what this story was really about and it wasn't mainly about video games. It was about seeing how other people live and the decisions we as a society can make to help people who live in an unfair environment.

Our protagonist Anda signs up to play Coarsegold Online which is an international online game that compares to basically all rpg video games. I love playing video games so this story felt natural and Anda was relatable to me.

Anda is just an ordinary girl who creates an avatar and plays Coarsegold Online. She meets online friends, two in particular, Lucy and Raymond. Anda and Lucy team up to get real cash from the game which isn't totally legal. They get the cash by selling gold they receive from the game. That's where they meet the gold farmers and where Anda meets Raymond. Turns out Raymond's job is to farm gold in the game. 

The story starts from playing a video game to Anda realizing that people living elsewhere have a completely different and unfair life experience than she has had. It was really interesting to see a graphic novel bringing up real issues that impact people's daily life. I've never read any graphic novel like it before. I thoroughly enjoyed where the story took me and how Anda responded to all that she learned. In Real Life can be a real eye opener or reminder to how much injustice goes on in the world and how with enough support we can help a small part of it. 


  1. I enjoyed this one and the way that it took something so common, like online gaming, and framed it within a conversation about economics and privilege.

    Kate @ Ex Libris


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