For The Win, by Cory Doctorow (2010)

The great thing about science fiction is that when you read enough of it, eventually things in the news start to seem familiar. I read lots of SF indiscriminately as a teenager, and started to notice five or ten years later that the better stories were coming true to various degrees. It’s the sort of thing that keeps bringing me back to Cory Doctorow’s string of popular young adult near-future science fiction novels.

This book, for example, centres on gold farmers (people who make a living by earning gold in online games and selling it for real money to other players) in working in Asian sweatshops who are inspired by the Wobblies to both unionize and gain official sanction from game publishers. They do it by going on strike and creating a currency crisis in the game, causing financial chaos in game-related futures markets in a section closely based on the 2008 burst of the US housing bubble.

There’s no shortage of speeches on labour rights and the Ponzi scheme which is contemporary capitalism (no fewer than two of the main characters are economists), and lots of long descriptions of people staying up all night to play games which could only have been written by someone who’d been there. But even if, like me, you’re not so into video games, the idea of workers using their means of production to control their own futures in creative new ways makes for a fun read.