From hot sauce to toilet paper, if a variety of objects exist, they’re ranked in numerically descending order somewhere on the Internet. With modern gaming’s inherent connection to the online community, it comes as no surprise that gaming sites are some of the biggest offenders. So why are these lists so prevalent? It’s because an article entitled “My Favorite Toilet Plungers” wouldn’t attract nearly as much traffic as “The Top Ten Best Toilet Plungers”. There’s just something about the countdown format that irresistible.
Before I go any further, I want you to know that the irony of an Internet list about bad Internet lists is not lost on me. Despite what I want to believe, I know this list isn’t meta, or clever; it’s complete hypocrisy. Like all lists, it’s a cheap attempt to boost traffic, and if you’ve already read this far, I thank you for your willingness to get involved in this silly paradox. Also, much like the paradox of traveling back in time to kill your grandfather, the creation of this list was a bad idea that probably should have been stopped.
5) The Ultra Specific List
This gem misses the point entirely. Rather than attempting to reach a wide audience, this list ensures that its potential audience is as small as humanly possible by using multiple, highly specific rules of inclusion. Surely, somewhere on the Internet there are people interested in discussing what hooded, Ubisoft game character is most likely to own a parrot, but the majority of potential readers probably can’t muster up a single shit to give. Narrowing a potential audience in an article meant to attract a large audience is equivalent to cutting a net into dozens of pieces before tossing it into the ocean.
4) List of Signs or Reasons Why
This countdown format, pioneered by comedians such as David Letterman with his Late Show Top Ten, and Jeff Foxworthy with his “Signs You Might Be a Redneck”, should barely be considered a list at all. It’s actually more of an excuse to make hacky jokes. It’s impossible to justify that the number 4 “sign you’ve been playing too much Skyrim” is anymore valid than the number 7 entry. Does shit-joke number 4 shit totally kick the ass of shit-joke number 7? No. Even the comedians who built careers based on this lame joke format are tired of it. Just look into the eyes of David Letterman next time he delivers a “Top Ten” and tell me he doesn’t look dead inside. Plus, it’s been scientifically proven that the number 1 entry in these lists can never be funny. Ever.
3) List of Things That Need to / Should Happen
Out of all countdown lists mentioned, this one is by far the most pompous. The self-absorbed writers responsible these lists are less interested in sparking debate, and more interested in listening to themselves speak, and receiving praise for their obviously brilliant ideas. These arrogant morons do nothing but grow red in the face as they stand on their Internet soapboxes, demanding satisfaction from game developers, publishers, media, and even fellow consumers. Meanwhile, many of these list writers have no idea what it would actually take to fulfill some of their unrealistic expectations. The game industry has been growing exponentially for years and shows no signs of stopping. If something needs to, or should happen, it will.
2) The Sexy List
This is probably the most common list found floating around the Interwebz, and for good reason; it is the epitome of traffic bait. Young male gamers everywhere are completely powerless to resist this twin-pronged attack of game references and boobs. Plus, it’s obvious that the list will include sexy pictures of each character. No one clicks on “The Top Ten Sexiest Space Vixens” to read biographic descriptions. But as nauseatingly common as these lists are, one must give credit where it’s due. These blatant collections of fap-fodder don’t claim to be creative works of genius. Instead, they offer racy pictures of fictional characters and in return ask only for a few seconds of attention from one-handed web surfers.
1) List of Best/Worst Ever…
Ironically, the reactions garnered by these lists are generally the polar opposite of their titles, with “Worsts” being met with general satisfaction and “Bests” inciting rage-fueled commenter flame wars that serve to rack up comment numbers for the writer. No one ever reads one of these lists and walks away saying “Yep, I agreed with everything the writer had to say.” Like alcoholic fathers, these lists leave nothing but resentment, anger, and sadness in their wake. If commenters aren’t outraged at the exclusion of their favorite game, they are infuriated by the order of the list itself. Regardless of the fact that these lists are obviously the opinions of the writers themselves, many readers react as though they are official law. A writer audacious enough to suggest that the Call of Duty series is less compelling than the Battlefield series should be punishable with public castration, right? When the asteroid hits and humanity must go underground to survive the inevitable apocalypse, no one is going to consult a website’s “Best Ever” list when deciding what games to pack.