Video Games Writing Trash Bin #1
For reasons unknown, I spent a lot of time scrolling through my terrible Google News feed and take some sick pleasure in pointing at the current state of video games writing on the internet. If I see something particularly stupid, then more often than not I’ll grab a screenshot and make a quick tweet dunking on it. I know there’s entirely too much negativity out there, and this doesn’t do anything to help that. But at the same time, it’s hard not to be disappointed with how the algorithm has largely ruined games writing.
Have you ever wondered why sometimes when you look up something online it will be worded in a very specific way? Take this for example.
Setting aside the fact that Lost Ark is a recently popular game, and the topic of “oversexualization in video games” is always a hot button issue for people to complain about, you’ll also see “Explained”. Explained is specifically a keyword used whenever headlines or thumbnails want to grab the reader/viewer’s attention and suggest that the article/video in question will provide the answers you seek.
The bigger problem with this is that more often than not the thing being “explained” doesn’t really need an explanation. It can be a YouTube video that discusses a very easily understandable plot element. Or an article that is more interested in making you aware of faux outrage for something a majority of people aren’t particularly interested in.
Going along with the above example, I found a very similar headline during the same launch week of Lost Ark.
Does anyone really care that the character and outfit designs in Lost Ark are revealing? Probably, but how useful is this discussion to most people? But it’s an issue that has been raised, about a popular new release, and it’s easy to generate traffic by putting up a quick clickbait article to that promises to expand upon a non-existent discourse.
Another tactic used to take advantage of Google’s SEO are individual articles that act as “guides” for very specific questions and situations in games. I’ll admit, I have found this particular sort of article useful from time to time, but upon closer examination you can see these articles are written in such a way that it will be more likely to be picked up by the algorithm.
So in this example we have another popular game. Elden Ring. And we have two different articles here answering questions about the game.
In both examples the writing goes out of its way to name drop the game multiple times in a way that just feels unnatural for the purpose of writing an informative guide or article. If someone has found the article in question, do they need to be reapeatedly reminded that the article they’re currently reading is about Elden Ring? As an aside I found the use of “fans” in the first image to be awkward as hell. Who would phrase it like that?
Sometimes I’ll see articles that are less egregious about manipulating the algorithm, but are just guilty of being really dumb articles. I’m not sure if it’s a result of these clickbait articles just hiring anyone willing to type out some garbage, or if it’s also an intentional bait to get people like me angry enough to talk about these things. But either way I’ve seen plenty of questionable writing in the time that I’ve had this unhealthy hobby.
This is a headline I saw right before writing this post, and it begged me to dig a little deeper than the usual reaction to a clickbait headline. The article above is trying to make the point that the recent announcement of Valkyrie Elysium and The DioField Chronicles, two arguably B-Tier Square Enix games, are heralding the return of a golden age of JRPGs on the PlayStation platform. Anyone with a memory slightly better than that of a goldfish will realize this is a pretty strange thing to say.
For starters, the concept of this article is a bit confusing. In the above image, the author explains that Sony has “adopted a number of other genres”. Which for anyone paying attention to the past few years of PlayStation history will know, Sony has found great success with its lineup of “prestigious” single player games. And considering the past couple years even it’s very apparent that Sony has made a decision to pivot away from Japanese games in favor of their host of western first party studios. But is this even about Sony at all? Considering Square Enix is the one putting out these games.
Game Rant is a website notorious for fellating Persona 5, so the above image isn’t too surprising. But I can’t understand why Ni No Kuni would be the exmaple for PS3. Furthermore, since when was the PS4 deprived of a wealth of JRPGs? You’re telling me that these two Square Enix games are going to put PS5 on the map? What about the fact that the majority of Japanese game development has found a home on either the Nintendo Switch, or Mobile platforms? Why is the PS5 the ground floor for this new revolution?
“Final Fantasy 16 will be a PS5 Exclusive? …a step forward following Final Fantasy VII Remake?” What? Final Fantasy VII Remake was *already* a PlayStation console exclusive? So how is this different in any way whatsoever? See, this is what I mean. Did the person who wrote this know what they were writing? Did they not remember? Are they just lying? Do they care?
Did the person who wrote an entire article dedicated to listing all of the hundreds of Pokemon that are *not* included in Pokemon Legends care that they were writing absolute garbage? Probably not. So these people are out here plastering sewage like this all over Google to get website hits, without any sense of shame or guilt, then I suppose it’s fair for me to give them shit for it. Right?