I don't know if you guys realize that Viz's Haikasoru line of translated Japanese novels exists. Like most stuff in the US J-pop industry-- especially in the further reaches-- it's not like anyone can afford publicity anymore.
You know what you probably really don't know? One of the novels in this lineup, Slum Online, is about fighting games. Not only that, but the guy's been there. He actually knows what he's talking about. This book has been on my list since I read the excerpt, in which the author simply describes what any genre aficionado worth his Sanwa can tell you is a round of Virtua Fighter.
If you've read the book, you might wonder what the real-life analog to the game the protagonist is obsessed with is. I can say with certainty that the closest thing is VF: of the many talks about 3D fighting game arcana in the book, quite a few are specific to VF and no other game. Just saying!
Anyway, our narrator is a college freshman and an obsessive, high-ranking player of an online fighting game called Versus Town. Makes me feel a little nostalgic, except the game was Guilty Gear XX and I was only good enough at it to beat all my friends.
The part where the story actually crosses over into fantasy is when a beautiful honor student with a voice like an anime character (no, seriously) takes an interest in this guy. I don't mean a scientific interest (this one girl used to say to me "I'm fascinated by your lifestyle, Dave!"), I mean she runs up to this totally antisocial loner and says "HEY I'M LOOKING FOR A BLUE CAT WANNA GO OUT WITH ME?" The hero is living a double life as many gamers do: by night he seeks a mysterious, legendary player online, and by day he hangs out with his Magical Not-Girlfriend.
The former story is pretty dead-on accurate. The narrator covers, at least in passing, almost every phenomenon in the world of hardcore fighting gamers you can think of. From tier lists to gamers' dog-in-heat reactions when they find out a player is female to the catastrophic effects of differences in elevation on a juggle combo (it's why the ground is usually flat in fighting games), the author is all over the place and he's always essentially correct. You can tell the author's been there because he spends an entire chapter saying what anybody who's ever been addicted to an MMO will say to you after the point: "don't even start".
I wonder whether the fight scenes (and there are many) are exciting to someone who isn't genre-familiar: as someone who is, I can fully visualize every quick movement the players in Versus Town make. The descriptions read straight out into fighting game language. You probably wouldn't exactly be able to tell they're talking about movements in a game here, because it just reads like a fight. Reading these bits really made me miss VF. I wish people cared about that game.
As for the boy-meets-girl story... there's simply nothing going on there. The girl has no life of her own: at first we're presented with a quirky facade and immediately wonder what's beneath. Then the book ends and we realize that, hey, wait a second, that's all there was. She only exists so that the hero can be an indifferent not-boyfriend and realize, as a result of same, What Was Important All Along. I don't think she even spoke about anything that wasn't either the hero or a blue cat. When the guy has his revelation, it rings hollow. Somehow, these two managed to get through a 200-page novel together and fall in love (or at least the hero tells us he is: that the girl's in love is just assumed) without ever having a genuine, convincing interaction.
So yes, Slum Online is a true gamer book. It's thorough and very interesting when it's discussing the most arcane, insignificant details of the weird niche hobby it loves, and it's bad with girls to the point of outright incompetence.