Book Review: IRL

Books | Book Review | In Real Life | Graphic Novel | Video Games | Gaming | Doublexjump.com

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In Real Life, or IRL, is a graphic novel by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang that showcases a high schooler’s life as she joins a popular MMORPG. Anda, the main character, has a love of gaming, both online and offline as the comic shows with her classes in computer and gaming programming as well an afterschool D&D campaign. When a well-known gamer visits her class to talk about Coarsegold, an MMORPG, and the importance of female gamers being comfortable playing as females in their games, Anda joins the guild.

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Upon entering the game, Anda meets another female online who convinces her that there are players who cheat the system by gold farming. It’s her job to get rid of them and she gets paid real money for doing so. Anda joins her in this quest believing she’s doing the right thing for the game and also making a little extra money along the way.

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This isn’t well received by Anda’s mother, who was apprehensive about Anda joining an online game in the first place. Like most parents, her mother was concerned about Anda talking to strangers, particularly men. She was appeased by Anda joining an all-female guild, but when Anda starts getting paid to get rid of gold farmers, it’s her mother’s bank account that is connected to the game. Her mother, believing that Anda is talking to strangers and accepting money, cuts Anda off from her video games right when Anda begins to realize that the gold farmers are real people rather than bots.

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Before Anda gets cut off, she actually has a conversation with one of the gold farmers, a young kid from China trying to make extra money as he works in awful conditions. Anda realizes there are people out there who don’t have it as easy as she does and she’s determined to help him out. There’s a lot of morals that go into this graphic novel and it’s not just about playing video games online and making a hobby out of it.

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Reaching out and trying to help others, bullying, and the morals of meeting people both on- and offline are all lessons that are touched upon in this graphic novel. I actually thought it was interesting how the mother was in this story, with her being concerned about online predators that we really don’t see much nowadays. Rachel and I grew up with the internet, having special classes occasionally in school regarding internet safety since it was still fairly new. Now, kids are much more tech-savvy than their parents when it comes to online and people’s lives are plastered on the internet more so than ever.

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It’s true. Most kids are on their own when it comes to the Internet. They learn from their friends or they figure it out for themselves. However, from a babysitter’s perspective, there are still plenty of parents out there who worry though mostly because they don’t understand. Their kids don’t understand either (even though they think they do) which makes them worry more. So, reading the conversations between Anda and her mother were pretty real to me.

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Which is great, it’s good that the graphic novel echoes the conversations that parents you know have had. I feel as if parents’ involvement with the way their kids interact with the internet has fallen to the wayside in recent years. When it comes to the images of the graphic novel, I enjoyed the art style and how fluid it was. Being set mainly in an MMORPG, there were plenty of action shots and pages, and the characters’ expressions were always clearly captured, in my opinion.

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This graphic novel, overall, is well done. The illustrations are fun, the characters are easy to get into it, and the story is a good one.

Have you ever read IRL? Let us know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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Reality is Broken

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

It’s the end of the first month of 2018. I hope you’re all doing well and that everything has been working in your favor so far. Here’s to the rest of the year!

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A book I’ve been reading lately is Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. It depicts why video games are important in today’s society and how they aid us in being happy and fulfilled with our lives. While the book was published in 2011 and, thus, is a little out of date at this time, it has made me think about my love of games.

Think about why you play video games. Is it because of the challenge of saving the world? The relaxing atmosphere of caring for a virtual town? The social aspect of online video games? No matter your reasons, you wouldn’t be playing video games if you didn’t enjoy them.

There’s a particular quote near the beginning of the book that McGonigal put in from Brian Sutton-Smith, a psychologist of play: “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.”

Depression often gives people a sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity. Games, on the other hand, give us a sense of being able to overcome obstacles, an endorphin rush when we focus on our energy on achieving a goal. By gaming, we’re focusing on an activity that we’re good at and enjoy.

In other words, McGonigal claims, “gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”

The key ideas of being happy include satisfying work, the experience or hope of being successful, social connection, and meaning, or “the chance to be part of something larger than ourselves.” Gaming gives us all of that. Rather than using games as a way to escape reality, gamers are actively making their real lives more rewarding by playing.

I’ll be honest. My day job is not at all what I want it to be. It’s stifling and not creative at all, in my opinion. Sure, my co-workers are fantastic and the job itself pays well with good benefits, but it feels like more of a chore than anything else. I’m working there to survive, not to live.

Reading this book just kind of made everything click into place. Video games were always a way for me to help save the world and pour my creativity into, such as writing a blog about gaming. I’ve met some wonderful people along the way, and gaming has opened up a few connections that I never would have had otherwise. It’s rather amazing to think about, isn’t it?

Have you read this book? What made you start to play video games?

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Friday Favorites: Video Game Novels

Double Jump Kris MiiBooks are another love of Rachel’s and mine, and some of my favorites tend to include video games or virtual reality settings as a main focus. They’re the best of both worlds!

This Friday, I thought I would share some of my favorite books that include video games.

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Ready Player One

Ready Player One was Ernest Cline’s debut novel centering on a young man who’s escape was literally virtual reality. The world nearly lived in OASIS, the virtual utopia, and they were obsessed with solving the original creator’s puzzles. Whoever solved the puzzles were promised power and wealth, enough so that players were willing to kill for the clues. I recently finished Cline’s Armada and, while Armada wasn’t bad, definitely preferred Ready Player One, if only due to the characters.

In Real Life

A graphic novel, In Real Life is by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang. The main character is a gamer who enjoys playing the MMORPG Coarsegold Online in her free time, allowing her to be as brave and heroic as she wants to be. It focuses on bullying both offline and online, as well as friendships. Sounds a bit cliche, but it was actually really well done, and the illustrations were great!

Warcross

Okay, so I haven’t read Marie Lu’s Warcross just yet, but Rachel finished it and stuck it on my bed, which usually means, “Read this now! I need to discuss this with someone!” She was gushing about it the other night, being extremely vague as she tried so hard not to spoil anything, and I haven’t seen her get that excited over a book in a while. It has virtual reality, hackers, and spies… What more could you want?

Have you read any of these books? What other novels that are set in video game worlds have you read?

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Dream Harry Potter Game

Double Jump Kris MiiIf you’re a Harry Potter fan, guess what? It’s Harry’s birthday today!

Besides gaming, I’m also a big reader, and the Harry Potter series is a favorite of mine. There’s a television channel called Freeform that never needs a big excuse to run a Harry Potter movie marathon. It tends to play at our house whenever the marathon happens, usually in the background in the kitchen, and it’s the kind of series that makes my family feel warm and fuzzy inside, no matter what medium it’s in.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is massive. Everyone knows who Harry Potter is. The series spans across so many mediums — the books, the movies, toys and, yes, video games.

Most of the Harry Potter video games are the usual licensed games, the ones where you control the main character through the story, sometimes with glitches or weird controls. People eat them up enough, though, if only to get that taste of performing magic at Hogwarts.

With Virtual Reality becoming a main form of gaming on the market nowadays, I’m curious if franchises such as Harry Potter will ever reach that platform. The game would be massive, of course, even if it only allows the player to go through one year at Hogwarts. A Choose Your Own Adventure type of visual novel, if you will, it could start off with a small quiz (or choice) to allow the character to get sorted. Classes can be small mini games, allowing players to level up with their magic, with a larger plot looming in the background. There can be key main NPCs that your character interacts with, his or her or they’re choices affecting how well you maintain your relationship with the NPCs.

Perhaps we can’t all be Harry Potter, but I wouldn’t mind playing a character that joins Dumbledore’s Army and defends the Wizarding World against Death Eaters.

It’s just a thought. Whenever we do get a chance to purchase a decent Virtual Reality system, the Harry Potter world is definitely a place that I want to visit.

Do you enjoy Harry Potter? What kind of series or world do you think may adapt well to Virtual Reality? Anyone know if this will be an actual thing one day?

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Video Game Novels

Double Jump Kris MiiAnd it’s another week… How’s everyone doing on this fine Monday?

Rachel and I pretty much want to be done with our day jobs, haha! We would love to spend our days gaming, reading, and writing. And when you can combine all your favorite hobbies into one? It’s the best!

 

Remember when you were younger and your parents wanted you to read more books rather than spend all of your free time playing video games? Video games themselves have become such a big industry, reaching wider audiences and rightfully being treated as an art form. It makes sense that authors try to reach that same audience with novels set in video game worlds.

unofficialminecraftersadventure_gameknight999_trilogyI’ve definitely picked up some novels from Barnes and Noble simply because they’re set in game worlds. Mark Cheverton has a couple of series set in Minecraft, for example. They’re mostly aimed at a younger audience with lessons about cyberbullying, but it was a fun little trip to the world of Minecraft. 9781932796803_p0_v2_s192x300

R.A. Salvatore is an author known for his science fiction writing, with his credentials including stories taking place in the Dungeons & Dragons lore, like his Legend of Drizzt. (Not only has he authored novels, he’s also written stories for video games themselves, such as Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone for the XBox, Playstation 2, and PC.)

Ernest Cline has Ready Player One and Armada, both based on gaming worlds. Julia Durango authored The Leveller, Mark Alpert has The Six, Holly Jennings wrote Arena… There are a plethora of books out there that take place in video game settings. It’s amazing to me how far the video game industry reaches other art mediums!

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any other recommendations for books that take place in video game worlds?

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Pro-Diversity in Sims 4

Double Jump Kris MiiThe Sims franchise has always been a favorite of Rachel’s and mine ever since an old coworker years ago had let me borrow her collection of Sims 2 games and expansion packs to try it out for myself. Since then, we had been hooked.

Now the Sims 4 have been creating more and more customization and expansions, and I believe this latest update is one of my favorites…

Way back in February, Rachel and I did a post detailing our first impressions of the Sims 4 games by Maxis. While Rachel really enjoys the game, I wasn’t as enamored with it as I was with Sims 3 for a variety of reasons. With the new update that was released just a few days ago, my respect for the franchise has grown.

This update unlocks all of the gender restrictions in the Create-A-Sim mode.

That means every female hair style can be placed on male sims, the male voices can be used for a female sim, every type of clothing, walking style, and physique is shared between the two genders. It’s a fantastic step forward in not only customization but also representation. Considering my country at the moment is arguing over who can pee in which restroom, I’m all for it.

If anyone has glanced at my personal blog, usually used for writing and reading, they would know that I’m a fan of We Need Diverse Books, a campaign dedicated to promoting diversity (ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) in books. Considering how influential books are to the masses (seriously, how many movies nowadays had started out as books?), having a wider range of representation of people is needed.

Diversity is needed in other forms of media as well, like movies and video games. People, especially the younger generations of the world, now more than ever are coming out with their gender and sexual identities, and the world needs to hear. Hindering representation and those who identify as anything other than “the norm” is only going to hurt the future.

There is nothing wrong with gender not being as black and white as it was before, and I’m glad that a huge franchise like the Sims can support that.