This is an amended version of a speech I gave at Santa Cruz Quaker Meeting House in June.
Everyone in this room has a superpower.
I don’t mean you can bend metal with your mind, like Magneto or read people’s thoughts like Professor X. I mean you have some skill that is native to you. It is something that you do better than most other people.
Written by Polygon senior reporter Colin Campbell, Piranha Frenzy is a novel about the gaming industry. It takes place on the day of a big E3-like convention in Los Angeles in the near future. The story, which takes an inside look at gaming culture, centers on a game reviewer who comes under pressure to give a AAA game a positive score.
Piranha Frenzy has been received favorably. Writing on the New York Game Critics blog, New York Times’ regular contributor Harold Goldberg called it, “nerd-dishy … with tight prose peppered with humor that is skillfully plotted.”
Microsoft exec and senior industry figure Phil Harrison said it is “a must read for anyone in games.”
“I’m really happy that the story has given people pleasure, and I hope that this offer gets it into more readers’ hands,” said Campbell. “Perhaps some of the many people traveling to E3 this week will give it a try.”
So I got 75% of the qualifiers from the first round, and 75% of the last eight. France surprised me by getting through, but the team I expected to play here, finally turned up against Germany.
My pre-tournament last four was 100% right, but after that, everything went to hell. I predicted a Brazil Holland final. Still, great, great tournament.
My Team of the First Round
Update: First Round Complete.
I got 12 right out of 16 (original predictions below).
I called all final positions in Groups A, B and F exactly right.
Costa Rica instead of Italy.
France instead of Ecuador.
USA instead of Ghana
Algeria instead of Korea
Okay, here are my predictions for the World Cup. I strongly suggest you invest your entire life savings on my expert analysis. But I feel duty bound to warn you that I have not correctly predicted the last four since 1990.
I’ve written and published a story about a games journalist who suffers pressure to deliver a high score in a game review she has been commissioned to write.
Piranha Frenzy is the story of a games website and the people who work there. I have spent much of my professional life in places like Piranha Frenzy, so it’s a reflection of a world that I know very well.
For many years I have worked for magazines and websites that have made their way in the world covering video games and the games industry. I’ve done everything from making the tea to running teams of dozens of journos. So I had plenty of material to work with.
Piranha Frenzy is the story of how small compromises against editorial integrity can have big consequences, and it’s about how editorial leaders, who forget who they serve, cause untold trouble.
Just about everyone in my book suffers from some kind of delusion that they take actions for all the right reasons, and that they are above wrong-doing. The story is about people with individual motivations and abilities, operating in an environment where ethical lines are blurry. It also touches on issues about power and belonging.
I hope that Piranha Frenzy will entertain anyone who takes an interest in the world of games journalism.
Search ‘Piranha Frenzy’ on Amazon for print and Kindle versions. For more information, reviews etc. go to the Piranha Frenzy website.
One of the chief pleasure of writing about video games is how deeply they reach into the broader culture and society as a whole. Games have always been interesting in their own right, of course, but in recent years their capacity to engage on a more complex level has opened up new possibilities for commentators. In short, games with something to say provide journalists with that thing we enjoy most of all; angles.
I had a feeling about this feature, The First Native American Games Company, that somehow we’d be able to connect games which are ephemeral and trivial with the deeply historical current lives of ancient peoples in a way that would be visual and arresting, without resorting to hackneyed juxtapositions
I didn’t get to go to GaymerX this past weekend. It was my birthday and I wanted to hang out with the kids. But there’s this video that came out today (thanks to GameSpot’s Kevin VanOrd) which seems to suggest that a good time was had by all. Also, if I can shill my own work for a minute, there’s this article a few weeks ago, about the event and LGBT issues in gaming.
One of the perils of real life, and of journalism, is the zeal of monomaniacs. The media is a wonderful forum for debate, except when it is hijacked as a lopsided platform for nuttiness. As a reporter, we have to know the difference between a colorful, yet informed opinion, and a barmy obsession.
Rather than a ‘best’ of E3 list, this is, strictly speaking, a personal shopping list. These are the games from E3 that I’m pretty certain I’m going to buy. Links also to some E3 work I did on the games, or my colleagues at Polygon created.
I’m immensely proud of a recent feature published by Polygon about a My Little Pony fighting game. I hope you enjoy reading the story. One of the reasons for this pride is that the original draft was sent back to me by Polygon’s copy-editors with gentle suggestions for significant rewrites. The final product is quite different from the one I originally wrote, and way better.
In recent weeks I’ve been talking to a lot of indie game developers about how they view games media. Their opinion, on the whole, is that coverage on the big games news websites is extremely difficult to attain and that the agenda of larger games websites is to serve mainstream AAA gaming, while making a token effort for indie games.
Some months ago, I submitted this feature (I think it was a slightly different edit) to a previous employer, who refused to run it on the basis that the issue of female disempowerment in gaming was “saturated”. Naturally, I was furious, but this was hardly the first time that certain sections of the media have turned a blind eye to the uglier side of audience behavior.
Larry Probst does not strike me as a man easily moved to amusement. It’s unlikely that he chortles his way through life’s merry conundrums, rosy cheeks aglow with delight. He is, in short, a serious fellow.