The Unexpected Collision of Media and Identity

Better With Audio!

“The Projectionist” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “The Projectionist” is about the bravery and insight that can come from fictional works.

Though truth is heavier than fiction
Gravity lifts as the projectionist rolls tape
And it makes us brave again

I recognize that, compared to the rest of the world, the American education system can be a maze of confusion. If you’re part of my amazing European audience, you may want to consult this handy Wikipedia article in another tab if you have any terminology questions. Also, you can always ask me any questions in the comments.

I’d like to take a break from talking about specific games to have a conversation about one particular topic — recommending media such as games, movies, and music to friends. I thought we might do something a little different and reminisce. For day 6 of her 30-day video game challenge, Megan asks what game recommendation I’ve tried this year. What she didn’t realize is that’s a bit of a loaded question. Believe it or not, this can be a challenging, highly personal activity worth of the same self-contemplation rendered of the more serious topics in our lives.

When I was a kid, particularly in elementary and middle school, I was incredibly bad at picking up on social cues. It was one of the myriad of reasons I chose Communications as my college major, honestly. I always had a deep love for people, and studying up on group dynamics from an academic perspective would enable me to shore up any social weaknesses that developed over the course of childhood. Despite odd motivations, however, the scheme seemed to work. I’m far better in the adult world at reading people and making friends, even if I have my own quirky way of doing so.

Though it may seem trivial, one of the things I did for the purposes of this challenge was look back over the course of my life to see how I approached the concept of recommending media to friends… and oh boy was I bad at it.

Whatever I liked, be it Star Trek or Garfield the Cat or Sonic the Hedgehog, I was not afraid to let people know it. We’re not talking, for instance, a level in which I’d go to school in a homemade Starfleet uniform, though I might have tried if my family could afford it. But it was more along the lines of being unwilling to shut up about something. In my child brain, I thought that people should be into the same things that I was, and anyone who wasn’t was shallow.

By high school I got picked on, naturally, to the point of just shutting down any conversations besides those of academics. I had a reputation as a “smart person,” and the best way to keep that was to just stay quiet. Turns out high school Matt may have been onto something, as by the time junior and senior, I had gotten surprisingly popular. That perception persisted to the end for some reason, as I was voted “most intellectual,” whatever that means, for the class yearbook my senior year of high school.

It turns out there is a highly tactical element to recommending ways upon which others entertain themselves. This indicates to me that media is far more personal to people than is let on by common thought.

The video games, films, books, music, and art people consume truly make up a significant portion of the pie chart that is their identity, especially when said media is tied to nostalgic memories. The first time I was exposed to one of my favorite bands, Jars of Clay, was during a particularly fun week-long stay with my cousins. I also remember playing Super Smash Bros. for the first time with them on their Nintendo 64. To tell people “you’re doing it wrong” when media is tied to those types of memories has got to be at least as painful as a slap to the face – I certainly know it is when people do that to me.

The trouble is I see people on the internet and in real life employing the child-like battle of wills approach to media conversion every day. By now, considering my experience and education, I think I can consider myself an expert on getting people involved in media they wouldn’t have otherwise. Doing so requires three important keys:

First, and most importantly, have a wide breadth of knowledge about all of the arts, and keep that repository expanding no matter what. You really need to be able to relate with people on their home turn, and doing so requires a deep understand of what will entertain offend them. To have all of your knowledge deep in one fandom is a clear sign of mismanaged passion.

Second, listen to others! Ask them questions about their favorite things – it’s a great conversation starter. It is far more important for them to give you a valuable piece of art than for you to convert them into a fan of your agenda. And follow through – watch/read/play whatever it is they recommend, and report back to them the next time you see them! That makes them far more open to considering your point of view.

Third, draw from your knowledge to select the thing they will be most compatible with. Sure, it may not be the media you are secretly an obsessive fan over, but small steps are the key in any type of persuasion. Start them off with something good but accessible, and you can save the best of the best for later.

In the comments below, we would love to hear your stories! Tell us about how you’ve matured in this aspect of life. Or, even better, give us your most embarrassing story about when you recommend something to someone. We’re all ears! Or, you know, you could just give us your video game recommendation. I’ll add it to the stack.

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Adventure Map
Introduction: Pixel for Your Thoughts: A 30-Day Video Game Reflection Challenge
Previous: The Only Zombie Game I Ever Loved | Day 5 – Pixel For Your Thoughts
Next: How is Fi NOT the Most Annoying Character in Games? | Day 7 – Pixel For Your Thoughts
Related: TV Shows, Video Games, and Movies, Oh My! Real Life Follows Culture
Inspired by: A Geeky Gal’s 30-Day Video Game Challenge
Response to: VGC Day 6 – What game recommendation have you tried this year?
Into anime? There’s a challenge for that too!

  1. I kind of went the other way on this, actually. Not the complete opposite, but definitely since… I’d say about 2010 or so, I’ve been less “ashamed” about the things I know I’m into, less inclined to jump into things just because I feel like I “should” (usually because they were popular) and, in the process, more tolerant of people with differing tastes. These days, I know that there are things I don’t enjoy, but that there are people who DO enjoy them, and who am I to deny them that? All I ask is similar treatment in return.

    My site was set up as a means of me sharing my enthusiasm for my favourite things without moral grandstanding or attempting to shame people into doing things they don’t want to do. I strive to make my articles informative and detailed, so those who are interested in the things I write about can find out more about them, but I don’t cast any sort of aspersions on people who choose not to engage with them. (I do, however, rather harshly judge people who completely discount the things I write about without looking beyond the superficial or taking the time to read the things I’ve written!)

    But you’re right. Being open to new experiences is always good. Sometimes you can be very pleasantly surprised, or even discover a new favourite thing. Sometimes you confirm your suspicions about something, and that’s fine too. The important thing, for me, is that the things you feel about any piece of art are, as much as possible, based on actual experience rather than hearsay, assumptions and prejudice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure how I missed your fantastic comment until now, MoeGamer! I guess it’s a good thing I do routine sweeps of my comments pages. 😀

      Thanks for giving us your insights on this matter! I certainly wasn’t advocating being ashamed of things — on the contrary, I admire the passion of your blog in particular and how you engage with the fan-bases of which you are a part of. You, like so many other bloggers in this community, are awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

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