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Cover image for For the win
For the win
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Tor, 2010.
Physical Description:
475 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
A group of teens from around the world find themselves drawn into an online revolution arranged by a mysterious young woman known as Big Sister Nor, who hopes to challenge the status quo and change the world using her virtual connections.


Call Number

On Order



In the virtual future, you must organize to survive

At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual "gold," jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world's poorest countries, where countless "gold farmers," bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.

Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of "General Robotwalla." In Shenzen, heart of China's industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.

The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power--including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister's people must out-think the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once--a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.

Imbued with the same lively, subversive spirit and thrilling storytelling that made LITTLE BROTHER an international sensation, FOR THE WIN is a prophetic and inspiring call-to-arms for a new generation

Author Notes

Writer and activist Cory Doctorow was born in Toronto, Canada on July 17, 1971. In 1999 he co-founded a free software company called Opencola and served as Canadian Regional Director of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. For four years he worked as European Affairs Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and in 2007 won its Pioneer Award. His first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, won a Locus Award for Best First Novel. His short story collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More won a Sunburst Award, and his bestselling novel Little Brother received the 2009 Prometheus Award, a Sunburst Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Doctorow also writes nonfiction books and articles, and he co-edits the blog Boing Boing.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-In a story (Tor Teen, 2010) that explodes with life, Cory Doctorow invites us into the world of teenage video gamers who hail from India, China, and Southern California. Each character struggles to make a living via gaming and gold-farming, escaping the wrath of predatory adults who capitalize on the young people's online agility. Around every corner, they meet actual and virtual danger. These characters exist in a dizzyingly complex world, yet each interwoven tale describes an age-old story of forging identity, standing up for oneself, and eventually leaving home. Most affecting is Mala, who lives beside a plastics recycling plant in India, and escapes the powerlessness of poverty through gaming. All the characters are brought together by Big Sister Nor, an online presence who haunts and captivates-and invites them to reexamine the meaning of online labor. George Newbern's narration is perfunctory, with a reserved tone that seems too detached for such an exuberant story. He changes voices for some characters, but not others, and his Indian and Chinese accents and female falsettos will often make listeners cringe. In a book filled with so many culturally diverse characters, the narrator should have had more lingual versatility. The absence of music is also a missed opportunity. A snatch of melody from the character's culture could have signaled point of view shifts. And the sounds of the games, which Doctorow describes so vividly, would have also made for a livelier listening experience. The tech-savvy teens who would be drawn to this story would crave more stimulation than this audiobook offers.-Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College Queens, Long Island City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Doctorow uses video games to get teenage readers to think more about globalization, economics, and fair labor practices in this expansive but ponderous story. Set, like his earlier Little Brother, in a near-future world, it centers on attempts to unionize teenagers who work within massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) as gold farmers, employed to raise game gold and find magic items to be resold, or as Turks, who help police the virtual environments. Employed for minimal wages under horrible working conditions-sometimes in near slavery-these children, led by a global group of fierce and talented gamers, band together, subverting the MMORPGs to take on their corrupt local bosses and the corporations that own the games. As usual, Doctorow writes with authority and a knack for authentic details and lexicon, moving between impoverished villages in China and India and inventive video game worlds. But the story founders under the volume of information he's trying to share-the action is interrupted by lectures on economic principles, sometimes disguised as conversations-and an unwieldy cast of characters. It's undeniably smart and timely, but would have benefited from tighter editing. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

While many YA novels have explored the ambiguous boundaries between virtual reality and the world as we know it (Ender's Game, anyone?), Doctorow's is the first I know of to take on the real-world economic implications of computer game currencies. As it turns out, this is a lot more interesting than it might sound. Matthew is a Chinese gold farmer, one of the thousands who play role-playing games for hours in order to accumulate virtual money, points, and treasures that can be sold -- for real money -- to other players looking for quick power-ups in games such as World of Warcraft. Matthew's is just the first of several stories Doctorow follows as gamers, gold farmers, and those who would take advantage of them both meet in virtual worlds and eventually in our own when player Big Sister Nor, in Singapore, decides to organize the Webblies, the "Industrial Workers of the World Wide Web." Doctorow's enthusiasm for his subject is contagious, and his explanations of currency markets, inflation, and other economic concepts are lively and clear. But the novel suffers from too many characters, some of whom could have easily been conflated, and there is little subtlety in his depiction of oppressed workers and fat-cat bosses. Still, readers who appreciated the revolutionary spirit of Little Brother (rev. 7/08) will appreciate Doctorow's second teen novel, just as much a manifesto as the first. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

In a future so close it will be easily mistaken for today, teens all over the world play massively multiplayer online role-playing games, but not all are in the game for fun. In the Third World, the poorest children and teens "farm gold" for ruthless bosses who turn game currency into real-world money. The in-game economies of games like Mushroom Kingdom from Nintendo and Zombie Mecha by Coca-Cola Games rival those of Peru and Portugal. Big Sister Nor in Singapore and a small army of followers slowly and secretly recruit the best players into a fledgling union that could span the globe if it's not destroyed by corporations, corrupt police or repressive governments. Award-winner Doctorow spins a mammoth tale that, when in gear, is as engaging and fascinating as any MMORPG. Unfortunately, it is shot through with economics lectures; regularly, the focus shifts from the large cast of characters to a gentle exposition on union history or social contracts or some other complex economic idea. Fans, future bankers and future gametechs will be in heaven; those without interest will skim or give up by the halfway mark. (Science fiction. YA)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Doctorow is indispensable. It's hard to imagine any other author taking on youth and technology with such passion, intelligence, and understanding. Although perhaps less urgent than Little Brother (2008), this effort is superior in every other aspect: scope, plot, character, and style. Set in the near future and in locations across the globe (though primarily China and India), the story involves a sweeping cast of characters making a living if you want to call brutal conditions and pitiful wages a living in such virtual-game worlds as Svartalfheim Warriors and Zombie Mecha. Many of them, like 15-year-old Mala (known by her troops as General Robotwalla ), endure physical threats from their bosses to farm virtual gold, which is then sold to rich First World gamers. Then these brilliant teens are brought together by the mysterious Big Sister Nor, who has a plan to unionize and bring these virtual worlds and real-world sweatshops, too to a screeching halt. Once again Doctorow has taken denigrated youth behavior (this time, gaming) and recast it into something heroic. He can't resist the occasional lecture sometimes breaking away from the plot to do so but thankfully his lessons are riveting. With it's eye-opening humanity and revolutionary zeal, this ambitious epic is well worth the considerable challenge.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

In Little Brother, Doctorow created a near-future tale that brought attention to the wrongdoings of Homeland Security. Here, his subject is the teenaged workers of the world's game economies. The "gold farmers," who convert game gold into real money, are fed up with their long hours, small profits, and thug bosses. The solution? A world union, the IWWWW, International Workers of the World Wide Web. The complex story follows a union organizer named Big Sister Nor, teen game workers in India, China, and the United States, and the lead economist for Coca Cola's game division as the workers plot to take control of the games and their real-world economies. Doctorow's rollicking, globe-trotting narrative is occasionally interrupted by economics lessons that may have teen readers skipping ahead but that fascinated this gaming virgin. -Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13," BookSmack! 9/16/10 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.