Geek Fallacy: Get Through X, and then it’s Great The first episodes are rough, but you’ll be hooked by the 4th. You’ve said it before, I know you have – you can’t deny it. A friend provided this insight as you were struggling with the opening act. A random message board commenter urged people to keep trying. Even positive reviews utilize this shield as a means to justify a glowing recommendation. I know I’ve said it (mostly while talking about Doctor Who). And in every situation, we were all wrong. Any variation of “After the first ten hours, it gets really good” isn’t acceptable, and we shouldn’t look down on people who don’t invest the upfront hours for dividends of entertainment down the road. Time is a premium, and if a media property isn’t capable of capturing the audience’s attention in those first few moments, then maybe it isn’t actually that good. This isn’t to say media can’t improve. There are plenty of games which reach their peak after the culmination of building blocks throughout the tutorial-like levels. But it is imperative that those first few levels be amazing and worth playing on their own merit to justify the player keep moving forward. People claim “Final Fantasy XIII hits its stride once you enter Gran Pulse,” (which is true) but isn’t necessarily worth it for every player that endures the slog-fest of forced party selection, linear storytelling and melodramatic themes which come before and after Gran Pulse. 30 hours in – the game really opens up and becomes fun… The opening is the most important part, because first impressions matter. Remember that kick-ass first sentence at the beginning of this blog? It kept you enticed and interested to move forward. Without it, you won’t read further but instead move on to another blog that better captures your interest. Why? Because there are more blogs, videos, games, movies, comics, books, vines and variations on entertainment already created and available than one person can possibly enjoy in a lifetime. If the initial enjoyment is pushed back as a promise that things will get better later on – it’s a difficult proposition to accept. I recently fell victim to this trap, because I wanted to believe with all my heart that the following statement was worth it; “Agents of SHIELD season 2 is way better than the first.” It is….but it’s still not a good show. There are plenty of shows that are stronger in subsequent seasons than their first, but they were also good from the beginning. AoS S2 isn’t bad, but it doesn’t hold the standard of the Marvel Universe (like Daredevil). This highlights another problem with the geek fallacy; it compares a weak portion of the IP to a stronger version in order to justify its quality. If it is better than itself, but not good by itself then there is still a problem with the property. TV shows, with their serial nature, fall victim to this most often. Part of the reason subsequent seasons are when the show opens up is because of the character building, mythology creation and attachment to the established universe. It’s difficult to jump into season 3, when things start to get great, without all of the background of 44 hours of mediocre programming. I promise the second season is better than the first…but you need to watch the first to appreciate it. Movie sequels and games don’t have this issue as often. Each is a standalone product that can and often does build upon the predecessor but isn’t necessarily beholden to it. Aliens is better than Alien (debatable), but it isn’t required to enjoy either film. Here it is okay to call out a franchise’s improvements, because the viewer doesn’t have to sit through the first to understand. It’s okay to power through the boring opening or middle of a product to reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Some of the best moments come from that eureka or gotcha moment when everything falls into place. But if there is too much exposition, setup and little payoff for the first 5, 10, 20, 50 hours…then it isn’t appropriate to scorn people who didn’t have the same dedication. Don’t encourage friends to sandbag an entire weekend of mediocre to hit the good – try to find shows, movies and games which maximize greatness from beginning to end. What have you encouraged friends to get through in the hopes it would get better? Has there ever been a property which you endured based on a recommendation? Is there an IP that is worth the investment and my entire premise is wrong? Level Up, Friends!