First off, I'm going to admit right away that the title of this article is a deliberate misdirect. You're not going to find a Top 5 list here. I'm not even going to pepper in a bunch of big awesome pictures like I usually do - okay, a couple. So if you came here looking for that brain-trash, you're part of a pretty serious problem and I'm happy to disappoint you. Go back to Kotaku with the other ADHD meatbags and stop making the rest of the internet terrible.

As an avid gamer, I'm always on the prowl for news and information about different games. I lurk on numerous subreddits, monitor YouTube channels, "Like" facebook pages and follow developer Tweets, frequently scan TenTonHammer's news posts and occasionally hit up Google when I'm looking for something in-depth about something new that peaks my interests. An as a (for lack of a better term) "journalist," I also like finding well-written articles that intelligently discuss subjects of interest to me. For example, there is a particular writer from a former fallen TTH competitor whose work I often begrudgingly admired because he writes well and often about the same games I would cover here. I don't want to sound soft or anything, but I hope he bounces back and finds more work in the field. I'll be keeping an eye on his blog.

What I can't stand, though, is hack-written clickbait. I'm not going to mention any websites in particular (any OTHER websites, I mean), or point fingers at any of the guilty hacks making the rest of us look unprincipled, opportunistic and scummy, but chances are a lot of you readers know exactly what I'm talking about.

When I realized how little value these social-media clickbait "articles" actually add to the game, my jaw hit the floor.

Clickbait requires no skill or time to produce - you come up with a reason to list 5 games, give it a provocative title, spread it out over 5 pages for maximum ad exposure, and let the dumb kids who think you actually gave a half a damn when writing it argue about your choices in the comments. Or it can be a 50-word introduction to someone's Let's Play video. 

I see these trash game articles crammed into the same clickbait aggregators and social media feeds as "news articles" about Hollywood celebrities and Top 5 lists about comic book movies. It saddens me that this is what people want to stuff into their brains, and that the people "writing" this trash make a living doing it.

The problem I'm finding is that this style of trash "reporting" is gradually replacing content of actual informational value. This stuff is showing up on aggregator sites as "news," replacing actual news stories. Top 5 lists aren't news. Someone's jaw hitting the floor when they see what happens in someone else's video isn't news. It's usually just lazy, unimaginative filler - the equivalent of those vivid orange cheezy-puff "snacks" which are made of the same material as biodegradable packing material.

I'm not gonna lie and say I never, ever wrote stuff I don't really care about. Without getting too specific, I wrote a few articles about a dragon-heavy game that I utterly despised on practically every level. It's the kind of thing you have to do on occasion, because every game can't be wonderful and captivating, but I didn't go making a career out of it. There's a reason I keep writing about the Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: the Old Republic long after it ceased being fashionable to do so. And there's a reason I stopped writing stuff about that crap dragon game. I mean, a reason other than because no one gave half a crap about that crapfest of a game on account of it being so ridiculously dumb. 

I like to think of it as professional pride, but maybe it's equal parts bull-headed obstinacy.

I actually tried emulating the clickbait style of "journalism" a couple of times, spreading thin and mostly-irrelevant-but-high-interest content across several pages to artificially inflate pageviews. The first time I tried it, that article did more short-term traffic than anything I had ever written up to that point, and I'm not sure I ever surpassed it since. The second time, I tried the same thing for a different game, and our readers caught wise and tore a strip off my ass about it. And they were right to do so - I haven't done it since. 

I don't know if the runaway success of that one article speaks poorly of me, or of the people who came flocking to read that article. Either way, one of us needs a slap. And to be honest, I don't even remember what the article was about, except that it was a "Top 5" list or something similar that relied on a cheap trick that only worked the one time for me.

It's my hope that TenTonHammer readers expect more from us - content with substance - and keep coming here because that's what the team keeps delivering. Maybe not me in particular - I am what I am and don't apologize for it - but guys like Xerin, Sardu and even poor, deluded Lewis B, who all put thought and effort into their work. And they actually care what you meatbags think of them, so there's that, too. 


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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Sproul 1
Jeff Sproul, known by many as The Grumpy Gamer, has an undying love for The Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. There must be something about MMOGs based on classic trilogies...

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