Writing for a gaming website is easy. You just keep an eye on GamesPress and regurgitate whatever press releases roll off the eloquent tongues of those employed to sell you games. Right? Well, no, because if that’s all you did the website wouldn’t be very popular: you’ve got to engage your community the best you can, come up with original articles and stay up very late (and get up very early) to try to do your upmost to keep your visitors happy and coming back.
It’s not easy.
Unless, of course, you employ one or more of the below ‘tricks’ – sometimes cheap and nasty ways of attracting big hits, usually via the medium of N4G or Digg. Sure, those that visit might scoff and scorn but a click’s a click, right? Admittedly, some are worse than others (and we’re not saying we’re entirely innocent by any stretch) but if you find yourself reading a site that regularly covers eight or nine of the list, perhaps it’s time to consider why they’re doing it so often.
- Top 10 Lists – Like this one but not funny. Or even interesting. Here’s a secret: people like reading things they can knee-jerk disagree with (you just thought “no I don’t” there, didn’t you?) and a numbered list of things which are ordered into some sort of hierarchy gives lots of opportunity. I did them here for a while, no numbers or ranking, obviously usually intended to be a joke and titled “My Top Ten” and people still commented to tell me I was wrong.
- Boobz – Now, most of us like the curvier elements of the female form. Don’t get me wrong. They’re not real though are they? Even if polygonal lady parts do get you off (and there’s no shame in it, I suppose), why wouldn’t you go to one of the hundreds of sites that’s actually all about virtual boobs for your direct fix? Feeding your minor perversion on the scraps offered by game sites is like someone who likes porn magazines restricting themselves to the underwear section of the home shopping catalogue.
- Comparisons – This explanation is good but not as good as the one that talked about digital boobs.
- Misquote – Misinterpreting someone’s intent when they say something is fair enough. When it’s a textual communication it’s easy to miss the subtle nuances of language and not quite understand what was meant. Some places, though, regularly shape or edit a persons’s words so they sound more shocking. People like reading shocking things, even if they’re completely fabricated. The circulation figures for British tabloids tell us that.
- April Fools – Sometimes the annual prank is done well. Google, for example, often do a good one. Usually, though, it’s unimaginative, unfunny drivel. We’re often quite nervous about it because we think our readers deserve the truth whenever possible and there are about a thousand David Brents desperate to fix an idiotic grin, guffaw like they’d been dropped on their heads as babies, and shout April Fool! at us all. Grow up.
- Preload Interviews – You know when a site gets an interview with someone cool or interesting? That’s good, right? Not so good when they run a news story, with quotes from that interview, every hour for three days before the interview gets published. The interview is the story, squeezing a dozen other stories out of it just lessens the worth of the actual interview and discourages readers from looking at something substantial and interesting. So you’re basically saying that your readers are too stupid to digest the information in long-form. This ploy is often used in conjunction with number 4 on the list for maximum hit-baiting goodness.
- Announcements of Announcements – Sometimes the prospect of what an announcement might be is fun to speculate around. We all like a good bit of conjecture as much as the next man (or woman). But when it’s a regular technique, employed by a site to eek out an extra news story from the real announcement (or just be ‘first’ with the ‘news’) then it’s silly. And I used the word ‘silly’ because the more accurate word for what it is would probably get me sacked.
- Press Releases – Here’s the explanation that someone else has worked hard to get properly formatted and sent to every news outlet on their mailing list. It’s not my work, I just copy and paste it from an email because I’m quite lazy and I need to get my (by which I mean ‘their’) story onto some news aggregators so I can get some nice, cheap, easy (transient) traffic to show the people who sell those really annoying adverts that display full screen before you’re allowed to see the next press release I copy and paste. More soon.
- Make Stuff Up – I can’t find any interesting explanations for this part so I’m just going to think of something that might sound vaguely believable and then I’m going to state it as fact. That’ll be popular because people will either be stupid enough to believe it or they’ll realise I’m a big liar and have fun disagreeing. Either way, it’s more traffic for me so I’m one of life’s winners. This is like misquoting reality but I can’t decide if the idiots that do it are really idiots or if it’s some sort of elaborate trick played on the rest of the world. No, I’ve decided: they’re just idiots.
- Forget to Link Sources – You’re a news writer with one of the world’s largest games news sites. You source your stories from smaller games news sites who don’t get paid but work twice as hard as anyone at your site just because they love it. You’re going to find their scoop, repost it on your site and pretend they don’t exist, even though it was their keen eye and hard work that uncovered the story? You’re a dick.