For The Win
When I first started playing MMORPGs (Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Games), gold farmers would really make me angry. (Gold farmers play games solely to amass in-game currency or acquire rare items that other players purchase in exchange for real-world money.) They messed with ingame economies, made it difficult to acquire the best items, and allowed for rampant cheating. Later, when I learned that gold farmers were usually impoverished kids in third world countries, playing for next to nothing in squalid conditions – a gaming sweatshop – I got angry at how they were treated, by their corporate bosses and by other gamers.
And I got angry when I read For the Win, Cory’s Doctorow’s fascinating and involving novel about gold farmers and gaming (which is part of what he was going for, I think). Angry, because of what the characters have to go through just to survive. Angry, because life just shouldn’t be this hard, especially for kids. And angry because while Doctorow’s story of a disparate group of kids attempting to band together and escape exploitation is a work of fiction, you know that the Matthew’s and Mala’s and Nor’s and Lu’s are out there. And they deserve better.