People all over the world play games online; many of these people are teens - or younger. They play because they love the game. They also play because they can make money at it. There's practically no end to the number of ways that money can be made in these games: hiring yourself out to help new players to the game, working for the game creators to fill in holes in the game, working for private contractors to farm gold from the virtual currency (and redeem it for actual currency). For The Win follows a number of people all over the world - including China, India, and the United States - as they try to navigate the new world order of gaming.
The word that comes to mind when I think about For The Win is sprawling. There are a lot of characters in a lot of places - and most of them end up meeting at some point in the book. I was listening to the audiobook, and I think if I was reading the print book I might have had an easier time learning who everyone was at the beginning, but I gradually got used to the cast of characters. (And I really enjoyed George Newbern's narration - this would not have been an easy book to narrate.) In between some of the narrative passages are interludes that talk about the math and economics behind the gaming industry (and these passages reminded me a lot of The Accidental Billionaires, where it talks about how people can make money off of Facebook.) I can't pick out my favourite characters, because I felt so deeply for so many of them over the course of the book. For The Win is a book you have to make a commitment to, but in my opinion it was definitely worth it.
Find it at IndieBound.
Read it with:
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn