Monday, June 27, 2011

Content with Content

Do we really need new content as frequently as we demand? In the case of this blog, Alex and I post every day to keep us sharp and to keep the writing energy going, but I think of webcomics artists and YouTube contributors who catch flack for not producing new content like clockwork. I've written before about having unreasonable expectations for content creators, but what about our expectations for the content itself?

It's understandable to want more of something we like. It's also understandable to get anxious if we've been promised something we're really looking forward to that doesn't arrive on time. However, if you're anything like me, there's plenty to do with your time while you're waiting.

During the time it's taken Telltale Games to release all five episodes of Back to the Future: The Game, I've been playing through Final Fantasy III and Dragon Warrior IV; when a new episode arrives, I put my other games on hold and enjoy two or three evenings of adventure gaming, and then go back to what I was doing. You've probably seen my Backloggery by now; you probably know there are hundreds of other games I could be playing for the first time. Why whine and complain about just one?

In fact, why whine and complain at all? Yes, it's cathartic, and we want to feel that surge of power that we are the reason Company X is getting its butt in gear to make another two hours of entertainment for us. I, for one, prefer not to get too excited and impatient for anything new, even for my most beloved fandoms. I think the general public gets so violently dissatisfied with, for example, sequels that fail to live up to their predecessors, in part because people spend so much time living in the hype and constructing their own visions of what the sequel should be that it's all but impossible to enjoy the not-absolutely-perfect finished work when it's finally released.

Moderation in all things: A little bit of hype generates excitement, and a little bit of waiting builds anticipation. The payoff of moderation is the ability to enjoy a new work whenever it arrives, based on its own merits, with just enough enthusiasm going in to give the work the benefit of the doubt if it falters anywhere.

There's been a perpetual outcry for a true sequel to Chrono Trigger since the game was released in 1995, and there's been brutal criticism of the last decade or two of Sonic the Hedgehog games, but what has all the bellyaching accomplished? In the long term, perhaps the bellyaching has driven the message home to the developers what the fans want. In the short term, fans are extra unhappy because they're not getting what they demand. I can't speak for you, but I'd rather spend two decades getting whatever fun is to be had out of what I'm given than complaining about what I don't have.

That doesn't mean I can't be disappointed by something I've waited for, and that doesn't mean I can't complain about it. When I experience any new creative work, whether it's a video game, movie, book, comic, etc., I strive to recognize both the good and the bad, and not just write off the whole thing because I disliked more than I liked, or because it didn't live up to my expectations. I rarely have any excess enthusiasm that I need to channel into rage once I see the final, flawed product, so I can afford to be a little dispassionate--or, conversely, equally passionate about the good and the bad. You might call it having lower standards, but I call it being able to enjoy more of what I watch, play, and read.

I'm just here to be entertained. I don't need everything that entertains me to be groundbreaking and astonishing, and I certainly don't need it all Right Now. I want another season of Firefly just as much as the next guy, but to be honest, I'm pretty content with what I've got...and it's my pleasure, not my right, to have any more than that.


Rivers McCown said...

Supply and demand is, at best, an awkward fit with the demands of artistic creation. Not that I'm complaining, because it keeps me from having to get a real job.

Anyway, if this post spawned off of the cries for MOAR MEGA MAN!!, I don't begrudge you. The creative process takes time when you set your own standards. About the only useful advice I could give to you is that I'm in a Youtube series and we try to stagger the releases in a way that works best with the schedules we live...even if that means delaying something we've already worked on. Even then, life changes, and if you're having a wedding...well, whatever Youtubers. Man's gotta do what he's gotta do.

Anyway, allow this to be a blanket compliment: thank you for the videos you've put out. They've been an entertaining use of my down time.

Jess said...

I have also seen commercials for Firefly starting again on TV. Possibly re-airing the old stuff but it made it sound like a new season was on it's way.

Flashman85 said...

Rivers: Actually, this post was more inspired by a Kotaku article I read about how modern games aren't bad, just modern gamers. Also lending inspiration were the fact that I enjoyed the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, whereas most people apparently did not, and yes, Mega Man was involved to a lesser extent.

Thanks for the blanket compliment! I can honestly say that I've kept at it thanks to the enthusiasm and encouragement of the viewers.

Jess: I did a quick search, and I think it's just re-airing the old stuff, but that WOULD be enticing if it were something new!