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In Real Life

Review

In Real Life

A graphic novel about a video game is surely the pinnacle of all things nerdy. So you’d think, anyway. IN REAL LIFE is an elegant, visually appealing graphic novel about a girl gamer who gets recruited into a guild of all girls and women in a Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Game (MMO RPG). The beautiful art evokes all the whimsy and wonder of a video game that brings together the strange combination of escapism and realism that confronts just about anyone today. Its appeal is smart, sharp, and surprisingly universal for what appears at face value to be just a nerdy novelty item.

“This is the type of book I wish I had read as a teenager, and that hopefully will prove fun and empowering for a new generation.”

The plot revolves around the heroine, Anda, and her budding friendship with a gold farmer named Raymond, a Chinese teenage boy who illegally farms for goods in the game and sells them for a real life profit. As such, the graphic novel takes on much larger moral, social and economic issues that seem to balloon a bit out of its grasp. Yet its scope and earnestness are charming, and this charm smoothes over the broad, oversimplifying strokes in which author Cory Doctorow tends to address serious issues.

As Doctorow points out in his eloquent introduction, “most of the people you see going to work today are LARPing (live-action role playing) in an incredibly boring RPG (role-playing game) called ‘professionalism’ that requires them to alter their vocabulary, posture, eating habits, facial expressions --- every detail all the way down to what they allow themselves to find funny.” This seems to be an undercurrent throughout the text that brings out the intense power and freedom that gaming offers. If we have a choice as to what roles we play, why not choose something fantastic? This is the type of book I wish I had read as a teenager, and that hopefully will prove fun and empowering for a new generation.

Reviewed by L. Whitney Richardson on October 14, 2014

In Real Life
by Jessica Love and Jen Wang

  • Publication Date: October 14, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: First Second
  • ISBN-10: 1596436581
  • ISBN-13: 9781596436589