Category Archives: Free Thought Kev

What Are We Chasing (Or Running From) When Consuming Entertainment?

The main hope when consuming entertainment is for our imaginations to be captured. Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are cinematically moving shows where every small action is consequential. The Simpsons is an absurdly flexible playground rooted in character and emotion. 2001: A Space Odyssey shows us how both eerily insignificant and significant our bizarre existence is all at once. And Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 remake provides the most addicting gameplay loop on how to fly around an entire city on a flat board with four wheels without cracking your pelvis in real life.

But then we watch more. Play more. Listen more. We want more sequels and more works provided by our favorite directors, writers, and artists. We want to build our libraries and be a part of the conversation, whether it’s about the new thing or the old thing. Some, like me, will write blogs or reviews on their favorite stuff purely because we want to (without pay!) and then hang it up on a figurative refrigerator with a figurative magnet so we can tilt our chairs from across the figurative kitchen and say “I did that.” (The chair is the only real thing in this scenario). Do we crave validation? Is it an ego thing? Maybe.

Most of the time, we don’t even know what we want in entertainment. Often, we’re chasing what we’re already used to. More quirky characters who got themselves in a jam. More shootouts. More deliberately paced think-pieces. More trippy atmospheres. We rely on creators to recapture and expand on our past loves or to hopefully innovate and show us something new to obsess over. Even with all the great content being generated across all mediums, it’s few and far between that you’re going to get the same fix you had from Mad Men, Mulholland Drive, or God of War.

It’s our duty though as media lovers to be open-minded and keep consuming until we become enamored by that next favorite. It’s quite the conundrum. Until then, the many commercial and critical hits we absorb will only result in us revisiting our core favorites regardless of the outside works we deeply admire. It’s a cycle I find myself always doing where the lesson taught is ‘patience’. You don’t need to experience everything. It’s good to, but don’t burden yourself as if you’re obligated. Not everyone is running a business on the matter. Part of entertainment is filling a void and escaping reality for a bit. Feel free to step out of the dump truck once in a while. Because if you’re taking entertainment too seriously, then you would hope you can apply what you’ve taken away from it to enrich your life beyond that void.

In recent video game news, Sony greenlit a remake of 2013’s The Last of Us and cancelled the prospects of a sequel to 2019’s Days Gone, two games that immerses a player in a post-apocalyptic world. Many fans, non-fans, and media heads across the gaming sphere are upset. But why? This is the cat-and-mouse nature of the entertainment consumption process. On the one hand, Sony is future-proofing one of its most critical darling properties. Am I going to play a remake of The Last of Us? I have no conceivable plan to but I understand the effort to preserve the feeling a beloved piece of entertainment gave me, regardless of how soon and desperate the manner in doing so is.

Desperation goes both ways for provider and consumer in the vicious cycle of satisfying our hearts and minds. Does Days Gone need a sequel? It sold incredibly well but other than the wacky, sequel-baiting twist at the end of the game, I’m not surprised Sony wasn’t won over by Bend Studio’s pitch. I liked Days Gone. I platinumed it. Beyond that, Deacon’s story was told and what more is there to explore? How big do the zombie hordes have to get to outdo itself? (If there’s more zombies than what we got at the Saw Mill, then I’d rather just get bit.) How ‘out there’ does the mythology have to become to justify another installment? Mainly, why does everything have to become a franchise? Are we just as desperate and pathetic for prolonging an IP as Sony is in preserving one? That last question goes for all forms of entertainment.

I wish the best for Bend Studio. I hope the cancellation of a sequel means they can work on their next great thing because they surely have a talented development team who has earned the right to do so. My advice for those who want more Days Gone? Go play Days Gone. Be grateful it exists. In the meantime, when the universe closes a door, it opens another. And then there’s a long hallway. Hopefully leading to another room with a chair I can sit in.

What’s my point again?