Cory Doctorow on How Second Life Influenced In Real Life, His New Graphic Novel About MMOs & Gold Farmers (Plus, a Bit About Cory's Own Second Life)
In Real Life is the new graphic novel by artist Jen Wang and my pal Cory Doctorow, and it's based on "Anda's Game', Cory's great short story about MMOs, gaming, and gold farming in online games, which is actually my favorite thing he's ever written. While gold farming is generally associated with standard MMOs, there actually have been cases of gold farming in Second Life too -- in 2005, for instance, I reported on a low-paid Chinese gold farmer trying to earn/beg for Linden Dollars in SL. As it happens, Second Life did have some influence on the story:
"Well, certainly the way that the economy shaped up in SL, and the contrast between that, WoW and Eve Online all played a part in my thinking about the relationship between play, game-mastering, democracy and economics," Cory tells me. "I think in some way, games are a kind of Singaporean experience: an authoritarian state that is not accountable to its subjects attempts to optimize their experience for some balance of productivity and entertainment." (Cory wrote a whole essay on that topic for InformationWeek.)
Cory also has a fair amount of direct experience in Second Life:
Back in 2003, when I was at Linden Lab, I hosted his in-world appearance to talk about his novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, for which we made a "Cory Doctorow" avatar, and he returned in-world a couple years later to promote -- and virtually sign! -- another book, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. (Book fans in attendance: a vampire, a humanoid squirrel, an Empire walker, among others.)
I forget who created Cory's SL avatar, but I like to think they did a pretty good job, especially with the limited customization tools of the time -- what do you say? Anyway, read more about the book from Cory on Boing Boing.
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