Life, The Universe, And Gaming: TL;DR
I hate it when people take shortcuts.
Then I remember that in opening up this article, I’ve used so many different shortcuts including but not limited to Ctrl+T to open a tab, clicking a bookmark to load the eGamer website and then having Firefox auto-create a session since I asked it to remember me from last time, then opening up a new post and so on. Shortcuts are everywhere. But they exist for those who have used the longer methods and, one day, become aware of a shorter method that can be employed instead.
Importantly: They get the same job done, but quicker.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with what I’m going to speak about today.
You know when I first started writing for eGamer, early in 2011, I immediately asked if I could name my column when I was told that I could, I barely put a split-second of thought into exactly what that name would be. You may now proceed to judge my column name with such pokes as, “No wonder it’s shit lol” and, “Worst name ever lol”. But the thing is, the column is titled ‘Life, The Universe, And Gaming’ not just as a clever and obvious reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series of books by Douglas Adams (if you didn’t before, now you know) and The Answer, the number 42. It also has that title because those are the things I was hoping to talk about in the weeks ahead.
I want to talk about the “Life” and “The Universe” as much as I want to talk about the “Gaming” portion of our lives. We’re all gamers, sure enough (I think), but we’re also people who live lives, and we belong in a universe that we still don’t quite fully understand. I envisioned topics that would venture into psychology, philosophy, astronomy and quantum mechanics, and then back to gaming. It was my little soap box to the world. And initially, that was exactly what I did. Go ahead and read my earliest column entries and see for yourself, the stuff I talked about back then. It was fun and it was great, but a lot of readers didn’t quite get it. Either it was too obtuse, too verbose or just too irrelevant to gaming, and so for 2012 I resolved to keep it strictly to gaming, for the most part. And for the most part, I succeeded at that.
But 2012 is long gone now (good riddance) and we’re now entering the end quarter of 2013, and I want to break this mould and revisit another aspect not entirely related to gaming, but kinda sorta related to gaming. If you don’t want to read about something not related to gaming, but kinda sorta related to gaming, then that’s fine, I won’t be upset about it, promise. But if you do, and I mean why wouldn’t you, then consider this me showing my gratitude:
Why the fuck have people stopped reading?
I’m not just talking about books either. I mean yeah, it’s terrible that people aren’t picking up books any more. People get eReaders now and that’s there excuse, but they barely use their eReaders either. And I speak as someone who’s read a lot of eBooks and actual books of late. I’m not exactly living in the past, nor have I forgotten that sultry smell of a tangible page. But it’s not just books; it seems as if people have stopped reading all literature.
Azhar has been going on for a while now about how he puts his opinions into videos now and gets better view counts and more responses than if he’d just put his opinion into an article with words. This sort of thing is all over the internet now, with blogs and articles falling away to YouTube personalities who vlog instead. Nowadays a game review will drop in text and in video because for every person who wants to read the review, there are a good few more who would rather just watch a short video.
And I get it. I really do. Time is money, after all, right? We want to be able to do less to get more. Not only is that human nature but it’s part of the times we currently live in. And when you see an article that’s a few thousand words long, your immediate reaction is to groan and click away from it. You’re sometimes interested in the topic, but you just do not have it in you to read through all of it. I’ve been there. I know what that’s like. Trust me.
I’m not even going to say that you should consider how we feel when we type out such articles, only to be told that our articles are too long and readers did not bother to get past the first paragraph. If anything, as a writer you should be able to get readers wanting to go beyond the first paragraph. Like a closer during a night of flirting with that cute person you just met, you want to captivate them enough to want to read all of what you have to offer, regardless of its length. In fact, in spite of its length. So that’s on us as writers. Fair enough.
You might call me butthurt, since that was exactly the case with my Grand Theft Auto V review, which breached three thousand words in total and as a result, was skimmed by a lot of readers who opted rather to just get the summaries and move on. The truth is, I am a little butthurt about it. Granted it’s not the purpose of my writing today’s column, but it kinda sucks when you spend a thousand or so words explaining something that effectively vindicates the length of the article only to have people skip out on it because it’s too much to read. Too much to read?! Please…
Oddly enough, I’m attempting to keep this column nice and short to maximise its exposure, because I know that if it’s long-winded and elaborate then I’m going to lose a lot of readers and nobody wants that. In school we’re taught the lucky draw (some might call it art, but I don’t) of summary writing. Truth is, you’re just reading a larger passage and making it easy for the next person. But you’re still reading that original passage. A lot of the nuances and anecdotes are lost in the process but the key points are there.
As an example, sticking with my review of GTA V, I called it the perfect GTA game but not the perfect game. If you just read that, you’d be like, “Dafuq is Cavie smoking?” But after reading my words and understanding my thought process, you understand better, where I’m coming from with that statement. And that’s the point of articles, isn’t it? Context.
You don’t get context with summaries.
I’m getting a little sick of it, to be honest. I enjoy a good read. I also enjoy long reads done well. I read a twenty-thousand-word review of BioShock: Infinite just because it was so well-written and interesting. But almost on a daily basis, I see really good articles (on our site or otherwise) passed up in favour of video logs and shorter, less detailed versions.
The thing is, I can’t really blame anyone. If you read my GTA V review and, say, a one-thousand-word review of the game on another site, you’d still be able to get an opinion on the game. It’s up to you whether you want to use that opinion but you’ve saved yourself from having to read an extra two thousand words if you opted for the latter. However it might come down to how much you trust that site’s opinion over ours, or specifically mine in this case.
Likewise, when it’s a really long article or a book from someone whom you enjoy reading, it’s okay. But otherwise, it’s not. The question is, how do you initially discover someone you enjoy reading? That’s right, you give them a chance.
So let’s give reading a chance? Please? For the love of words.