One of the more frustrating aspects of being “always online” with a service like Twitter is that its algorithms just sometimes do more damage than good. Things that aren’t really news–or shouldn’t be–begin trending out of nowhere, simply because of mass confusion and keyword placement. It’s not a perfect system, and sometimes going through the trending tab feels like being told to go find a needle in the biggest haystack imaginable–and by that, I mean all of Iowa. It’s an impossible task if you don’t know where to look.
That’s why, upon waking up this morning and properly fascinating, I was struck with yet another Twitter trend conundrum: Why are the PlayStation 1 classics Parasite Eve and Legend of Dragoon trending on the Twitter front page? Did I miss some kind of early morning announcement?
Sadly, no. Regardless, let’s take a look at where this came from and what “trending” even means.
Pick 3….. PlayStation 1 JRPGs edition. pic.twitter.com/rRnqQ3cY03
— Kofi Muata The Last of Us Pt II (@Creative_Kofi) July 6, 2020
Though we don’t like to admit it, Twitter is often no more sophisticated in content than that conservative grandmother nobody in your family speaks to, but she still insists on forwarding chain letter email spam saying “Only real Christians will read this email” or “Bring a smile to someone’s day by forwarding the message ten times.” The trending page is a rat king (uh, not this Rat King) of words, phrases, and junk; Like a game of Scrabble gone bad.
In the case of two beloved PS1 RPGs, it all has to do with a “Pick 3” post meant to generate retweets, engagement, and spread around games Twitter like a disease of some kind. Maybe like the kind you’d find in a pandemic? I don’t know what you’d call it.
This is a common style of Twitter post that often overtakes the “Trending” and “For You” pages on the social media site, leaving people wondering why [INSERT GAME HERE] is trending when there’s no actual news about them at all… such as this morning. Those additional “why is [GAME NAME] trending” posts also add to the algorithm, furthering Twitter’s misconception that those things should be trending. It’s a bummer because of all the games from the PlayStation 1 era that deserves a fresh look, I think Parasite Eve ranks up there. Its strange mix of Resident Evil influence and Square Enix RPG is still one of the most unique role-playing experiences in gaming.
But, yeah: Both games are trending only because of the mass amount of people on Twitter confused as to why the games are trending, thus perpetuating the confusion. Think of it as a strange, social media version of The Streisand Effect but not nearly as interesting. If anything, however, it does show the companies behind these games that there is still some kind of demand—even if it means there’s no news right now—so in a perfect world, maybe the pointless Trending topics aren’t so pointless after all.