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In brief: Nothing signals the upcoming end of a year quite like companies releasing year-in-review lists. For Google, it's time for the tech giant's Trending in 2023 feature, revealing the top-trending search terms over the past 12 months.
Google has broken its top trending searches down into different categories. Note that these are the searches which trend due to spikes, not the most-searched terms.
One might imagine that Baldur's Gate 3 would have topped the gaming category, given the headlines it has made since launch. However, Larian Studios' title was third on the list of US searches. It sits behind Connections, a word game developed and published by The New York Times, while the top trending game of this year was Hogwarts Legacy, which in fairness is pretty good and made a lot of news at the time. The Last of Us (also the top TV show), Starfield, Diablo VI, and Atomic Heart (likely due to the Russian connection), are also in the top ten.
Looking at the 'Computers and Electronics' section, Adobe, Nvidia, and Collins Dictionary's word of the year, 'Artificial Intelligence', are in the top five categories. As for specific search terms, ChatGPT tops the list – it's also in third place as 'chat gpt'. Again, that comes as little surprise seeing as this was also Wikipedia's most-visited article of 2023.
Google has included the top categories for its Google Lens image recognition technology, too. Globally, the top 2023 trend was for the service to be used for translations, followed by Arts & Entertainment purposes, Text, Education, and Shopping.
The Trending News section is topped by the War in Israel and Gaza. Second place is taken by 'Titanic submarine,' which relates to the OceanGate Titan submersible that imploded in June during its mission to the Titanic, killing all five passengers onboard. OceanGate wiped its digital presence following the disaster.
Elsewhere, Jeremy Renner was the top trending actor globally in 2023, the result of an accident in which the Marvel star was crushed by a snowplow and almost lost his leg. Wednesday's Jenna Ortega is second, with The Last of Us/Mandalorian actor Pedro Pascal in fifth.
One interesting category on Google's list is 'How Often.' It's topped by the question, 'How often do you think about the Roman Empire?' Which one would imagine isn't very often at all. The concerning question, 'How often do trains derail?' ranks fifth: About three per day in the US, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration, though the majority of them aren't considered major disasters (i.e., no serious injuries or deaths).