The Top Ten Crappy Things Gaming Sites Do

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Comparisons – This explanation is good but not as good as the one that talked about digital boobs.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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35 Comments

  1. Ten reasons why TSA is better than the other sites.

    • haha, I’m not saying we’re not guilty sometimes too. Just trying to be funny by writing it all down ;)

      • best three words ever to end an article!

      • Indeed, TSA are known to roll out a couple of these now and again, but on the whole it stays away from these web-cliches.

      • Great read

      • Yeah sometimes you’re guilty of the “Future announcement announcement” articles. Here’s a suggestion: Don’t make them headline news, but put them on the right in an “Upcoming announcements” box, a quick look will tell me if I need to watch the interwebs in the next few days.

      • @ Bladesteel: we generally only do those if we think they’re interesting or can make a joke about them being silly but, granted, we do them from time to time.
        As I said – we do elements of lots of these things, although we try to do it as well as we can and not in a cheap way. I wasn’t trying to slag anyone else off either, just pointing out the things we all do to greater or lesser extents and trying to have a laugh at them ;)

      • Just to be clear: I didn’t intend to say you should stop publishing the info. Sometimes it’s interesting to know that there will be news about something soon. Just suggesting that that information might be more useful if it’s presented as sort of a calendar of what’s to come.
        If you really want to make something of it, and possibly generate some traffic in a positive way, link the items in the “announcement calendar” to forum threads where they can be discussed. Then when the actual announcement comes you can write a line or two about whether it met the expectations/hopes of the posters.

      • @Bladesteel That would require another delivery method to be coded into the site for these, usually spurious, little snippets. I think reporting the ones we find interesting and ignoring the 90% of them that are bullshit is a much more reasonable course.

  2. I can think of a few that do far too many of these. Nice to see a site able to poke fun at the competition as well as themselves. Keep it up TSA, easily the best gaming site going

  3. I totally disagree with this list.
    Boobz should have been number 1.
    Boobz are always number 1.
    I’m going to send this out to everyone so they can see how wrong you are.

    • At least you’ll quote the source! :)

  4. Brilliant !
    Love how you expose the loiguc behind 8.
    I would add 7bis : Hint of confirmation of anouncement (“maybe more on Gordon Freeman soonish… Stay tuned”) :p

  5. A great article. It’s funny because it’s true!

  6. I like comments sections to run riot with the posting of trainer advertising for months on end,it’s reassuring to know i’m more likely to buy the trainers than i am most of whats written on the site.
    To be honest i might be lying.

    • “To be honest i might be lying.”

      Haha, I’ll use that alongside “I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure.”

  7. Great article. I wonder if this will so up on Leader Gamer?

    -Joke

  8. I’ve N4Gd this.

  9. 11) always dissing every other gaming website ;)

    • lol!
      Not dissing anyone – these things are all part of the way the industry works now. People that do them are just doing their jobs effectively and the readership essentially gets what it asks for.
      Not my cup of tea though ;)

  10. In an irritable mood today Peter ? :D

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