by Harold Goldberg
Recently, Polygon’s Colin F. Campbell wrote Piranha Frenzy, a full-length novel that’s a labor or love.
Within this taut fiction about what’s it’s like to be a videogame journalist, Campbell offers a motley mix of characters. There’s an older guy/mentor who raises his eyebrows at youthful idiocy tempered with younger folks with too much attitude. Immersed in this jumble of personalities is a writer called Kjersti Wong, a go-getter who reviews a game that somehow is more than it seems.
Here’s how “Piranha Frenzy” begins:
“Kjersti Wong gazes at the crawling hell-scape. Groaning imps patrol in musical patterns, throbbing portals glowing crimson.”
Yes, it starts with the emotions one feels when playing a game, but soon, there’s a mystery which unfolds that affects everyone. As the tale progresses, there’s also writing about game review embargoes, the absurdity of review scores, and interpersonal annoyances like critics hating other critics. It’s nerd-dishy, yes. But it’s also tight prose peppered with humor that skillfully plotted.
Ultimately, Piranha Frenzy feels real.
Harold Goldberg, a contributor to the New York Times, is the Circle’s founder.