Curating Media

I get exposed to a lot of media, and I’m continually finding new stuff that I never thought I’d like, but turns out to be great. There’s very little that excites me like finding something awesome when I expected nothing at all, and a lot of it is because I have people very carefully introduce me to new stuff.

Very little turns me off of seeing something quicker than “OMG you HAVE to see/play/experience X, it’s about this and that and it’s totally up your alley and it’s AWESOME, you gotta watch it”. Possibly it’s me being obstinate, possibly it’s my desire to explore and find new things on my own getting in the way, but a lot of it is the weight of expectation that I must watch this thing and must love it. I’m familiar with a lot of media, and I see a lot of it from a lot of different people– it’s very, very rare that something grabs me enough to warrant capital letters.

Similarly, when I do gush about things, I tend to watch other people shut down– the same thing at work, I suspect. As a result, I try not to gush at people, unless I already know they’re into what I’m talking about or I already know it’s a lost cause and I just need to get the gushing out.

Instead, I try to curate my recommendations to people. There are a lot of things that I like that I don’t recommend to others unless directly asked, because I don’t really feel like people are likely to enjoy something just because I like it. I do keep an eye on a lot of media that I don’t personally consume, though, because other people I know might enjoy them. I’ve recommended games and TV shows that I’ve never played or seen to people.

The key, for me, is to keep mental notes of all the media I think someone would like, even if I’m not interested in it myself. It’s not just about picking things in the same genre, it’s about drilling down into the core and thinking about why someone likes the things they do and how some experience might meet that. When I suggest things, I bring that into the description– “if you liked Mark of the Ninja, you might like the new Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles game”.


As an example, I suspected Bel would really like Shadows of Mordor, despite his general disinterest in the Assassin’s Creed series, because it’s more about stabbing orcs and combat than the sneaky politics of AC. Very similar games, very similar styles and gameplay, but Shadows of Mordor hits the right buttons. I was right, Bel enjoyed SoM rather more than I did.

It’s not always perfect. I have to know what I’m recommending better than I sometimes do. I suggested Warmachine to Kodra at one point, because I felt like it was a highly strategic “deckbuilding” style of game with a heavy emphasis on synergy and building engines to move forward and accomplish goals. What I didn’t consider was that Kodra likes building engines that get the chance to work properly, and that Warmachine is a game about trying to build your own engine while stopping your opponent from building theirs– meaning most of the time (read: in games that aren’t one-sided) you don’t get to see your engine functioning as it ought to.

One of the other things I try to do is undersell things and stay vague unless asked about whatever I’m recommending. I usually say something like “oh, I heard about X, you might think it’s interesting” and leave any further research up to the person I’m talking to. There are some psychological reasons for this relating to mental investment, but it boils down to “if you’re not interested enough after the first sentence or two to do a quick search, you’re probably not going to be interested by me telling you more about it”. Underselling is also important for me– more “you might like this” and less “THIS IS AWESOME YOU HAVE TO SEE IT”. I try to use phrases like “it’s worth checking out” over “you should/need to see this” because I think of it more like setting something down on a table for later perusal than pushing something into someone’s hands.

Very rarely do I see someone gush about something and have someone else pick it up and have the same reaction. It happens, but it’s rare, and it’s often disappointing for the gusher. By reining it in, I find that people are a lot more likely to check out stuff I think they might like, especially if they don’t feel like I’m breathing down their necks about it. It’s also much less impactful when a friend tries something I love and hates it– I’m a lot more likely to get an honest discussion than a “um it was cool I guess” reaction if they don’t feel obligated to be excited about it just because I am.

My current recommendation is Hero Emblems. It’s an iOS puzzle RPG without microtransactions, just a one-time-purchase. If you like puzzle quest or similar bejeweled-alike RPGs, you might like it. The translation is hilariously awful, but the game is fun.

Source: Digital Initiative
Curating Media

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