In Real Life: Tour Stop

October 12, 2014 2014, guest post, Kim, realistic fiction 13

In Real Life: Tour StopIn Real Life Published by Macmillan on October 14, 2014
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 196
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. 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. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. 

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. 

From acclaimed teen author and digerati bigwig Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.


I must admit my interest was immediately piqued when I heard about this Young Adult graphic novel that appealed to both my gamer soul and my feminist sensibilities. I was not let down! I enjoyed this graphic novel so much I thought the only flaw was its brevity. Perhaps too short to really go as in depth in characterization, or with the issues as I’d’ve liked, but still an all around solid story. I found In Real Life to be a very heartfelt and eye opening story about the intersection of gaming, feminism, economics, and labor rights.


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And as such, we are so pleased to be a part of the 30 Questions with Cory Doctorow tour! Below I am privileged to present the questions and answers on our leg of the tour.


Anda gains a lot of confidence through her success with the all-girl gaming guild. What message about being a girl in gaming do you hope younger girls can take away from the story?

Girls are already about half of gamers, but there’s widespread perception that games are a masculine pursuit — girls who game often think of themselves as “weird,” not realizing how many of their peers are also in gamespace. This perception gives the jerky, trolly misogynist loudmouth know-nothing minority cover for their harassment and hatred. Shifting the perception will change the reality.


The book does a fantastic job of being educational and eye opening about its issues without coming across as preachy. How did you balance the complexity of the issues addressed without crossing into heavy handedness?

You balance it! Firmly felt beliefs that you’re passionate about are just as fascinating and captivating as the stories of imaginary people doing imaginary things. The important thing about a story isn’t whether it’s preachy or not — it’s whether it’s passionate and captivating.


As serious as the subject matter is, there is a relentless sense of optimism and idealism throughout the story. How do you maintain this positivity and avoid activist burnout?

I think it’s important to distinguish between “optimism” and “hope.” I am both optimistic and pessimistic — I think that a difference can be made, and think that in the absence of that difference, the world will get a lot worse.

But even if I wasn’t optimistic, I’d still be hopeful, because the alternative is surrender. Whatever forces there are militating against positive change, they can never be countered without people of good will working against them. Maybe we won’t win, even so, but we can’t win without trying.

I’m hopeful and keep fighting for the same reason that I’d keep treading water if my ship sank in the open sea — because as improbable as rescue is, the alternative is surrender



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About the Author

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the author of the New York Times bestselling young adult novel Little Brother, and the co-editor of the popular blog BoingBoing. His other YA novels include Pirate Cinema and Homeland (2013), the sequel to Little Brother. His adult novels and short stories have won him three Locus Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He has been named one of the Web’s twenty-five “influencers” by Forbes Magazineand a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.




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Are you a gamer? And/or an activist? What do you think about the intersection of these things? We’d love to hear your thoughts!



kim teal







13 Responses to “In Real Life: Tour Stop”

  1. Pili

    I saw this one in a comic book in Chicago and I already had my suitcase full, so I didn’t pick it at the time, but the book simply sounds fantastic! I’m not a gamer, because I feel like I lack basic coordination for it (I started playing Mass Effect cause the ex suggested it, and I loved creating the character but then got stuck trying to get through a door for 5 minutes, so I gave up!), but I feel that is important to show the message out there that girls don’t have to dislike videogames and that if they like them and are good at it, it IS awesome!!

    The interview was also fantastic, so great to hear that the author has such a positive and hopeful message to keep on fighting! Thank you for sharing this book, Kim!!
    Pili recently posted…Let’s Celebrate Halloween with Grim Reaper Week AND an INT giveaway!!

  2. Nikki

    I am one of those chick gamers so I can honestly say its awesome to see lit coming out that doesn’t ostracize women for enjoying something that supposedly only boys too. And guess what?! Girls can be pretty awesome gamers too ;) Unfortunately I probably won’t be reading this one because the synopsis is basically exactly what it was like gaming on W.O.W. (World of Warcraft) which I don’t really want to relive. I hope that girls who do read this realize that being a girl, being a nerd, and being a gamer are not mutually exclusive and in fact, is fabulous :)

  3. Jessica Cooley Meyer

    Oh my gosh, I loved the hell out of this one. Not only did the story rock, it teaches important lessons without being preachy, that’s not even mentioning the fact that it’s in Flagstaff – one of my favorite places on Earth.
    Jessica Cooley Meyer recently posted…The Rithmatist Review

    • Kim

      Oh hooray! Another fan! Yes, I was so impressed at how evenly the lessons were presented. Absorbing to read and not even a little bit overhanded. Perfectly balanced!

    • Kim

      It was a cute and touching story with real lessons that never delved into heavy handedness or being preachy. Well worth the read!

  4. Layla

    Oh, SWEET. I am super excited to read this (and maybe teach it if I ever get to teach my dream class about video games. SIGH).

    I will say also that I think it’s great that this graphic novel is coming up at this particularly historical moment; this past summer and fall have seemed like exceptionally shitty for women who play / read / make games. Not that it’s limited to like the past few months by any means, but. It’s wonderfully good timing to get a graphic novel that not only features girls who game (a good in and of itself) but also thinks about systematic oppression and stuff. I am excite.

    Thanks for writing about this! Also also also, Jen Wang’s art looks freaking awesome.

    (P.S. How did I not know that you are also a gamer?!)
    Layla recently posted…In Real Life: Tour Stop

    • Kim

      Yessss the art is so, so good. I was remiss in neglecting that!

      And you’re right. It’s been a particularly nasty few months. I feel like it’s been steadily increasing in shitty misogynist pressure for the past 2 years. Ever since Anita Sarkeesian first found her wild success with the Kickstater and all the gaming manchildren started their keening cries. My Xbox isn’t even connected to the internet because I’ve never, ever wanted to interact with anonymous assholes screeching tripe at me (Honestly, I got my fill of that on Reddit and other places on this world wide web). It’s been a peaceful and fun experience! What I’m saying is, yes, I agree the timing is wonderful. We need more and more books like this one.

      (Oh probs because I’m a Fake Gamer Girl. I very casually game and I “only” have an Xbox 360. I enjoy PC gaming a lot, too, but I have a Macbook so my options are limited. The last desktop game I played was Gone home, which, ugh, MY HEART. I was a such a little nerd with my PC games a kid, though. My favs were the Lucasarts masterpiece “The Dig” and also Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. Also a big fan of the Tex Murphy PI games. Probably the day I got my N64 was the greatest day of my life also.)
      Kim recently posted…In Real Life: Tour Stop