Life, The Universe And Gaming: Titles Tell Tall Tales
Last week some time the eGamer staff emailer incremented its count with an email from our head editor Dean regarding article titles; it was actually a link to quite possibly the greatest April Fools joke I have ever seen on the internet and it absolutely blew my mind. Not because it was anything relevatory or something I didn’t already know was a thing but rather because of its pure, elegant genius in pointing out the idiots of the world. Behold:
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
This was the original article that the site posted, in its entirety. Yes, that’s it. Nobody would actually fall for that, right? I mean, everybody at least reads the first few paragraps of an article. Right? Surely? Nope. Guess again.
I present to you, a social commentary on humanity:
Holy hell, humans really don’t use the majority of their brains.
And you know what? We’re all guilty of this. Myself included, from time to time. Here on eGamer, we have received countless emails from our news editor Alessandro about effectively titling articles so that we capture as many eyes as possible and garner interest before the user has even read the article; basically, we are told to make readers want to read the article. And you can bet your ass that we’ve worked hard to do exactly this. Imagine how upsetting it is to then see that people will read the title and do nothing further as far as investment goes, into reading that article.
Now I realise there is a flaw to me picking this as a topic for discussion and I want to immediately address this: Yes, those who are guilty of such a thing will not be reading this in any case. I am aware. But I’m also hopeful on an otherworldly level.
The title of an article does not tell the whole story.
So why do people treat it that way? As if reading the title is the 2014 equivalent of reading the article and that’s enough. Worse yet, we don’t even have the benefit of comments most of the time. A lot of our articles of late, if you’d like to go and have a look, will try to garner conversation and discussion because again, we want to talk about games — we even hashtag our tweets with #LetsTalkGames — and the best way to do that is with user interaction. This is why we like to elaborate on news pieces instead of providing robotic reporting of stories, and why we have a habit of throwing our own opinions into the mix. We like to talk, only, quite dishearteningly, it seems that because titles are more appealing than content, we end up doing so with only a fraction of the audience we had hoped for. The result? Well, I will say that it’s an oddly polarising, bittersweet feeling seeing an article do well and get thousands of views, but nobody actually commented on it.
Last year I wrote about the TL;DR mentality and how a lot of readers will see a really long article and just opt to not read it, even if it could be something entertaining and relevant to them, and now I feel as if we’re going even further than that with this titles thing. Of late, I’ve been trying to keep my article word counts down, rarely going over a thousand words in order to maintain maximum attention through the reads. This is something that I’ve done on my own to try and keep things more appealing to as wide an audience as possible without watering down the actual content. It’s been a challenge at times, keeping things absolutely cohesive and to the point while not neglecting to mention everything. Imagine then opening up the site and seeing that only a handful of you guys (whom I love dearly) bothered to read past the title?
The thing is, I can’t quite figure out what has caused this obscene laziness with readers. Perhaps you guys can help me here. Is it a problem with the content, like my paranoia tells me? Or is it something entirely out of my control, perhaps a mentality of, “If I can passively sit and watch videos about this on YouTube then why should I even bother reading anymore?”
Look above for why you should bother reading anymore. Would you have fallen for such a prank, assuming you’re one of those who actually comments on websites? (Because a lot of people don’t even go that far, anymore.)
So how do we change this? Is this the sort of thing that can be fixed somehow? Do I have to improve as a writer? Must eGamer improve as a site? Is it gaming news as a whole that is the problem? Perhaps it’s just a dry spell caused by a lack of anything to really talk about right now? Or is it a widespread issue with the internet and something that simply cannot be helped, the same way you cannot really dictate cyclical unemployment?
Can I at least make an eight-hundred-word column to bitch about it?