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April 1 Is a Bad Day

April 1st, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 19 Comments · Uncategorized

Notice how the Sports Illustrated page has real news on it and isn’t trying to be wacky?

Why does the games media take this day to heart so much? You get wacky lists, fake press releases, ludicrous patch notes on every single site. None of this takes any real effort and only reinforces in my mind how many of us don’t really take what we do seriously.

Yeah, I’m a curmudgeon. And I’ll admit a weakness for CGM’s April issues with ads from Schadenfreude Interactive. They always made me smile.

What is it about the games media that makes April 1st so attractive as a day to waste my time? Am I just a humorless git?


19 Comments so far ↓

  • Morkilus

    Those RPS guys are full of humor (or humour, more appropriately) and have no April 1st garbage.

  • Neil

    It’s not that April Fools’ Day jokes are inherently inappropriate; it’s just that the gaming press is far less funny than it thinks it is. Many geeks have an unfortunate tendency to reflexively imitate anything they find funny, in the sad delusion they themselves are now creators of humor. And without negative reinforcement, the crowd of game journalist geeks (but I repeat myself) doing so on April 1 every year grows larger.

    “This is the one day of the year that people don’t take us seriously,” they think to themselves. Nope, just one of many.

  • Troy

    Yeah, Morkilus, the RPS guys are funny as are a lot of my favorite games journalists. They just see that humor has a place in the everyday coverage, not as some sort of one off weirdness contest where they make outrageous posts in a poor attempt to let loose.

    The problem is: Funny is hard. It’s much harder to be genuinely funny than it is to be serious, especially in text. April Fool’s Day, in any case, is supposed to be about fooling people, but considering the places that will post any rumor or state that squids aren’t animals, I doubt anyone can get fooled any more or would even notice.

    Humor, which is what a lot of these April 1 articles try for, requires not just a sense of the absurd, which a lot of modern journalists have, but the skill to communicate it. I’m generally considered a funny guy by my friends, but I am not a funny writer. That’s way beyond my skill level.

  • Thomas

    “I’m generally considered a funny guy by my friends, but I am not a funny writer.”

    And that’s a really good point. Because they’re not just different skillsets, but there are even sub-sets to consider.

    When I did competitive speech in college, my worst event by far was after-dinner speaking. And I’m not an unfunny person, but my kind of humor just does not translate at all to that kind of environment. It was tremendously helpful to realize that fact. I learned to refocus what I could do onto the areas where it was most effective.

    A lot of gaming press folks online seem to think that WACKY == funny, and that’s the only style they know. Not coincidentally, few of them are really distinctive writers in a serious mode, either (strip out everything but the text, and I could never tell the difference between Joystiq and Kotaku, or Gizmodo and BBG, for that matter).

    What’s valuable about the RPS guys is that they’re funny in ways which are less overt, but more reflective of who they are. And that comes from being not just funny, but being good writers that are trying to have a voice, instead of just meeting the daily gag post minimum.

  • Troy

    I should also point out that the gaming companies insist on enabling this stuff. Do Paramount and Random House do this to their customers/clients/media partners?

    Man, maybe I am just cranky.

  • Thomas

    Actually, to be fair, Tor Books is running April Fools posts all day today at Tor.com.

  • Troy

    So it’s just the nerds, then?

  • Nicholas Tam

    I can see why the developers/publishers do it. For better or for worse, Blizzard has set a real example for the industry, sometimes using the April Fool’s prank to bury a real announcement that seems like it’s part of the fakery at first sight. Considering all the effort they put towards it, like throwing models/art/animation into their fake releases (check out the Starcraft II one today), it’s a way for the staff to unwind as well as a magnet for more eyeballs on their website. More eyeballs lead to more sales, both of their core product and the assorted tie-ins.

    I really wish the press wouldn’t get into the 1 April madness, though. Given how they’re supposed to be the ones with the professional writers, they’re just not very good.

  • Scott R. Krol

    Man, I’m so out of it this week I completely forgot that today was April Fool’s Day.

  • Scott R. Krol

    Just noticed even NASA is on it, so yes Troy, it’s definitely a nerd kind of day.


  • Alan Au

    I would rather that news outlets were genuinely funny the other 364 days a year and didn’t treat April 1 as a special day for stupidity.

  • CasinoMorongoCalifornia

    What I think is that if your are just posting a fake anuncement like the free copies of CS4 or the microsoft linux (windux), please don’t. those two are examples or bad postings. But the best ones are the one that actually take some time to work, like Blizzard or Thinkgeek. If you need half hour to do your “joke”, then is irrelevant.

  • Bruce


  • Bruce

    Oh Dingus, you fooled me for a second.

  • Hoo

    “Notice how the Sports Illustrated page has real news on it and isn’t trying to be wacky?”

    Who is Sidd Finch?


  • Troy

    That’s a 25 year old story from the magazine and was written by a real writer. And it wasn’t wacky, so much as a very clever deception.

  • wildpokerman

    I’m sure the SI homepage that they planned for what would have been a horrifically slow news day was just displaced by the actual news of the Bears paying so much to get Cutler.