Algorithmize This!

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Algorithmize This!

Much of the content on the internet is as easy to produce as fast food...and about as good for you.

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Great Article. I haven't been on the Escapist for 2 years practically every day for no reason. I come here for both the news updates, and the great articles and commentaries that come out each week. That and the hilarious videos. Don't dumb down.

I also like the comparison of Yahtzee to John Lennon.

This article is the reason I love this site. The news stories aren't just copy-pasted from a different site. The writer always puts their own spin on the story and usually includes some sarcasm, or a bit of humor that makes the story worth reading; even if you don't care about the story itself. Adding to that the fantastic video series and weekly articles, that in my opinion are the best around, I'll be sticking arouns for a long time
Well done keep it up folks

Shigeru Miyamoto has said that the key to Nintendo's success is that they know what you want before you do...before you even know such a thing is possible, in fact. You'd better believe they're not using an algorithm as part of their creative process.

Very good article, I for one would like to thank you all at the Escapist very much for consistantly striving to produce a higher standard of media for your audience. The Escapist has the feel of actually caring about its members and we recognise the extra lengths your go to to provide better articles, more trustworthy reviews and that foul mouth Brit we all love so much :)

A good read; up until the end which turned into thumping your chest because you aren't using an algorithm rather than detailing say, how these algorithms actually work.

On the other hand every time I search something wikipedia has come up with the correct article, say what you will about the wiki's editing policies but it hasn't steered me wrong.

Bravo!

Your website has always been a beacon of good writing and intelligent content for me, and it has led me to some other things (like Bob's Game Overthinker videos). Your readership may be small, but I doubt that anyone who is intellectually interested in interactive media will be able to visit your site only once.

And the funny videos. Kudos to those, too.

I loved the point about how Lennon wouldn't have made it on American Idol, as the overall sameyness of the contestants on that show is one of many reasons why I loathe it so much. Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Neko Case, they wouldn't have gotten far with superficial non-wits like Simon Cowell sitting at tables, pretending to be harsh, honest critics, when really they are corporate cronies only wanting people to keep regurgitating the same tripe and scarf it down again with a smile. And we surely wouldn't get filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson, or Terry Gilliam if everything were run like American Idol, or how (sadly) most of the internet seems to be.

I have been reading the Escapist for a lot longer than I have been a member. You may not be the largest gaming site, but you are by far the most satisfying. Nearly all the articles are intelligent and thoughtprovoking. Most of the videos are intelligent and fun to watch. Keep it up.

Alexander Macris:
Finding people like Yahtzee Croshaw or John Lennon is not easy

Are you fucking kidding me?

Alexander Maxris:
Nor has our pursuit of hand-crafted excellence led to us becoming the largest game-related site on the internet.

What pursuit is that then? The one that has led to the consist dumbing down of articles ever since the .pdf version stopped coming out? I used to really love the content on the Escapist but it strikes that you've all got a bit big for your boots. When it isn't self-referential and self-glorifying articles like this one it is poorly researched or unnecessarily provocative articles designed to increase traffic not consciousness. I refer you, for example, to the latest Going Gold, or to the myriad topics about the biggest and most overhyped games. ZP is funny and good, but I fear it has killed what your website once was.

You guys are my heroes.

Very well written, as always, Alex. If you weren't busy herding all of the cats necessary to keep the Escapist going, I'd say you should write more often. ;)

Comparing Yahtzee to Lennon is a bit awkward, but I get the point you're making, and it's a good one.

It made me think: As a consumer, what is it that I want? Do I want information fast-food, pre-processed in bite-size chunks, full of what I want but lacking any flair, style, or originality? Or do I want high-quality hand-crafted information, perhaps not always exactly what I want but always worth reading.

It's easy to say that I want quality, and how much I hate today's mass-produced information, music, television, movies, games, books, clothes, everything you can possibly think of. But if there's one thing I've become good at, it's telling when I'm kidding myself. Yes, I have the same vague, unspecified sense of contempt for algorythm-produced culture that most sensible people have. On the other hand, I am fully aware of how easy it is to take the easy route. Just as I grab a pre-packaged meal when I don't feel like cooking dinner, I use Google or GameFAQs or whatever to quickly find game-related information. Sure, the quality of the information might not be as good as a full review, but often that's not what I'm looking for. I use fast-food information not because it's good, but because it's convenient. I suppose that's just what those sites are aiming for.

But in the end, there's a reason I'm a member of this site. Sure, not every article may be to my liking, and I don't even watch most of the shows. But I keep coming back for more, not because some search engine directs me here, but because I've got the site bookmarked. That's gotta mean something, right?

Very good article, very well written. this is why i love this site, its not all the same stuff you can hear everywhere else.

And that Gentlemen is why The Escapist has replaced all my old gaming sites.

Long live the Escapist. As long as I can hide here on the internet away from all that other meaningless dribble, I can live happy!

SikOseph:
What pursuit is that then? The one that has led to the consist dumbing down of articles ever since the .pdf version stopped coming out? I used to really love the content on the Escapist but it strikes that you've all got a bit big for your boots. When it isn't self-referential and self-glorifying articles like this one it is poorly researched or unnecessarily provocative articles designed to increase traffic not consciousness. I refer you, for example, to the latest Going Gold, or to the myriad topics about the biggest and most overhyped games. ZP is funny and good, but I fear it has killed what your website once was.

So, I'm of mixed minds here.

The content in our weekly issues - that we have continued to publish - is chosen according to the same standards it was during the era when we made the PDF. The same set of writers creates the content. You can read every issue from 1 to the present on the site and I'd hold them all up as examples of great writing. So I'm just not certain where this sense that we've dumbed down the articles comes from.

But we certainly have added OTHER CONTENT that is not as high-brow as our weekly feature content. Does that mean the website itself is dumbed down, or does it mean we're simply serving different content in different flavors?

I don't think we've gone "dumb" and certain the other internet sites who make fun of us for being elitist snobs would find that funny, heh. But I appreciate that you've been a reader since our PDF days and I'm sorry you feel we've let you down. Thanks for your comments.

auronvi:
Long live the Escapist. As long as I can hide here on the internet away from all that other meaningless dribble, I can live happy!

Huzzah to that!

Nice article though, certainly addressing some issues which I have been talking to collegues at work about...gotta be careful where you go and what you read

Archon:

SikOseph:
What pursuit is that then? The one that has led to the consist dumbing down of articles ever since the .pdf version stopped coming out? I used to really love the content on the Escapist but it strikes that you've all got a bit big for your boots. When it isn't self-referential and self-glorifying articles like this one it is poorly researched or unnecessarily provocative articles designed to increase traffic not consciousness. I refer you, for example, to the latest Going Gold, or to the myriad topics about the biggest and most overhyped games. ZP is funny and good, but I fear it has killed what your website once was.

So, I'm of mixed minds here.

The content in our weekly issues - that we have continued to publish - is chosen according to the same standards it was during the era when we made the PDF. The same set of writers creates the content. You can read every issue from 1 to the present on the site and I'd hold them all up as examples of great writing. So I'm just not certain where this sense that we've dumbed down the articles comes from.

But we certainly have added OTHER CONTENT that is not as high-brow as our weekly feature content. Does that mean the website itself is dumbed down, or does it mean we're simply serving different content in different flavors?

I don't think we've gone "dumb" and certain the other internet sites who make fun of us for being elitist snobs would find that funny, heh. But I appreciate that you've been a reader since our PDF days and I'm sorry you feel we've let you down. Thanks for your comments.

I appreciate the acknowledgement! I should perhaps consider that I do still find occasional gems, it's just that I have to sift through much more filler that isn't interesting. It is probably the dilution of the weekly issue that has caused me to have this opinion (so well pointed out). I kind of think where before I was reading 5 articles of which I found three or four interesting and none badly written or researched, now I read 20, of which 3 are interesting, 3 are a bit meh, and the rest either have low content value, are badly researched, or I find uninteresting. So yeah, it's not that the originals have got worse, it's that I find my patience tested by all the other stuff.
Oh, and don't let my complaint be taken as comparable to other websites - this is still one of the best places to read the internet, it's just that I find it not as much better than most others as it was before.

Anyone else think Macris reads Ayn Rand? ^^
Seemed like the article had some inspiration from her work. Like how individuals are the "fountainhead" of creativity or how the fast food created by the talentless masses is "parasitic".

That said I don't necessarily disagree. The escapist is a haven of intellectualism on the internet even if the really good articles are a bit fewer and further between than optimal these days (that article about the word virtual was the most recent really great article).

EDIT: I feel that I have to clarify myself now that the SikOseph thing flared up I don't feel that the site has been dumbed down nor that the quality of writing has in any way lessened. There have simply been fewer article that has piqued my interest lately. Also I only mean the tuesday articles experienced points was always good yet still seem to age like fine wine.

I've read the escapist occasionally during the pdf days (when it was the most linked-back site for Greg Constikyans's article on game design.) At the time, I figured it was occasionally bright but a little too lost in doe-eyed lefty libtarded flights of fancy, much like the now defunct Gamer's Quarter. As most free magazines and newspapers are. When I wanted meaty articles on game design and analysis for strict educational purposes, I read David Sirlin. (www.sirlin.net) Yahtzee, much like John Lennon, allowed the liberal writers of the Escapist to ascend to Hollywood mass-market status, and the most successful and (occasionally) photogenic of them went the Unskippable or Doomsday arcade route. Now the site has achieved what it probably the apex of mildly intellectual older nerd traffic and should not be fucked with without consulting Shamus or other older dudes on whether it's a good idea or not. (Just as liberals in Hollywood should not assume that the fact that they have 'arrived' means that it's a good idea for them to lend their faces to every social cause, message movie, or public policy that comes down the pike.)

Though I will add that 'fast food media' is far different from real fast food in that McDonald's wants you to keep eating at McDonalds, whereas if the Escapist had a small part of the news dedicated (stolen from other sites) to pulling in search terms, you could reach a LARGER PERCENTAGE of the intellectual audience you so appreciate. Come for the quick fix of some guide or news to look through, stay for the Yahtzee/Unskippable/SP, return for the history of videogames available in the magazine archives, or some such. Make navigating the ARCHIVES easier and more intuitive, make the front page design a smidge less chaotic (say, organized so that the news is still newsy, but the popular items (AND THEIR ARCHIVES!) are more obviously one click accessible, and in general, do what Obama promised he'd do before getting quashed by feminists-build and maintain some goddamn infrastructure.

Do NOT let the idealists stop you from making this the focus, else you will end up as America did, and the stimulus WILL be hijacked:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/659dkrod.asp

Ironically, doing such things will eventually support a larger alternative community, but you shouldn't expect much forgiveness among the staff rank and file for doing so until much later, if at all.

Epoetker:
I've read the escapist occasionally during the pdf days (when it was the most linked-back site for Greg Constikyans's article on game design.) At the time, I figured it was occasionally bright but a little too lost in doe-eyed lefty libtarded flights of fancy, much like the now defunct Gamer's Quarter. As most free magazines and newspapers are. When I wanted meaty articles on game design and analysis for strict educational purposes, I read David Sirlin. (www.sirlin.net) Yahtzee, much like John Lennon, allowed the liberal writers of the Escapist to ascend to Hollywood mass-market status, and the most successful and (occasionally) photogenic of them went the Unskippable or Doomsday arcade route. Now the site has achieved what it probably the apex of mildly intellectual older nerd traffic and should not be fucked with without consulting Shamus or other older dudes on whether it's a good idea or not. (Just as liberals in Hollywood should not assume that the fact that they have 'arrived' means that it's a good idea for them to lend their faces to every social cause, message movie, or public policy that comes down the pike.)

Though I will add that 'fast food media' is far different from real fast food in that McDonald's wants you to keep eating at McDonalds, whereas if the Escapist had a small part of the news dedicated (stolen from other sites) to pulling in search terms, you could reach a LARGER PERCENTAGE of the intellectual audience you so appreciate. Come for the quick fix of some guide or news to look through, stay for the Yahtzee/Unskippable/SP, return for the history of videogames available in the magazine archives, or some such. Make navigating the ARCHIVES easier and more intuitive, make the front page design a smidge less chaotic (say, organized so that the news is still newsy, but the popular items (AND THEIR ARCHIVES!) are more obviously one click accessible, and in general, do what Obama promised he'd do before getting quashed by feminists-build and maintain some goddamn infrastructure.

Do NOT let the idealists stop you from making this the focus, else you will end up as America did, and the stimulus WILL be hijacked:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/659dkrod.asp

Ironically, doing such things will eventually support a larger alternative community, but you shouldn't expect much forgiveness among the staff rank and file for doing so until much later, if at all.

Way to be unnecessarily political.

You know that all the popular things and their archives ARE one click away, right? They're all on sidebars on the right - the front page is for current content. :)

Group hug time. I like that there is somewhere that publishes long articles about Spelunky, but algorithms can be used creatively, just ask Brian Eno.

Archon:

SikOseph:
What pursuit is that then? The one that has led to the consist dumbing down of articles ever since the .pdf version stopped coming out? I used to really love the content on the Escapist but it strikes that you've all got a bit big for your boots. When it isn't self-referential and self-glorifying articles like this one it is poorly researched or unnecessarily provocative articles designed to increase traffic not consciousness. I refer you, for example, to the latest Going Gold, or to the myriad topics about the biggest and most overhyped games. ZP is funny and good, but I fear it has killed what your website once was.

So, I'm of mixed minds here.

The content in our weekly issues - that we have continued to publish - is chosen according to the same standards it was during the era when we made the PDF. The same set of writers creates the content. You can read every issue from 1 to the present on the site and I'd hold them all up as examples of great writing. So I'm just not certain where this sense that we've dumbed down the articles comes from.

But we certainly have added OTHER CONTENT that is not as high-brow as our weekly feature content. Does that mean the website itself is dumbed down, or does it mean we're simply serving different content in different flavors?

I don't think we've gone "dumb" and certain the other internet sites who make fun of us for being elitist snobs would find that funny, heh. But I appreciate that you've been a reader since our PDF days and I'm sorry you feel we've let you down. Thanks for your comments.

I see it this way: there's a certain *kind* of low-brow content that people who love high-brow content enjoy. Like you mentioned Tori and Trent in the article, Tori fans who would not go near anything even vaguely 'metal' as far as music would get into Nine Inch Nails.

I sort of see stuff like ZP that way: (at the risk of sounding ridiculously elitist here), sure it's funny to the least common intellectual denominator, but there's also something about it that appeals specifically to the high end too. It's not just the content itself: it's the feeling one gets that Yahtzee has read the same books and seen the same movies and laughed at the same comedians you have. The jokes are funny to everyone, but as a 'high brow' kind of person, there's an extra layer there of knowing *where* the jokes are coming from.

If I could sum it up, I'm sure ZP's animation style is fantastic to someone who's never seen anything like it, but to someone familiar with Terry Gilliam animations, there's a whole other level there to enjoy it on.

Such fast food media has spread because it is economically viable. It may lack the quality, and thus viewer dedication, that more traditionally-crafted media displays, but the low cost of production for each story means that far larger amounts can be produced (and thus more ads placed).
How does a quality content producer, like the Escapist, maintain economic viability in such a market? Such a producer certainly holds the dedication of fans (that is, consistent viewers instead of one-time search engine redirects), but lacks the volume of content to place ads on the scale of a fast food content producer.
As I see it, there are two main options:

1) Quality content producers must find a way to leverage far more ad dollars in far less volume than competing fast food producers (which operate larger ad volumes with smaller budgets).
This would mean convincing advertisers that each view by a return visitor is worth far more than each view by a one-time visitor of fast food content. This argument would work well for advertisers seeking to expose viewers to an advertised product repeatedly (one strategy for advertising), specifically those wanting to precisely target the producer's audience. However, this would be unconvincing to any advertiser seeking quantity, not repetition of viewers, or any advertiser targeting an audience other than the producer's select audience.
This leaves a small pool of potential advertisers, meaning advertising may not be a valid stand-alone option in many cases.

2) Engage the loyalty and interest of return visitors to directly fund the production of content.
This can be through a store merchandising popular aspects of the content (ex. t-shirts, dvds, figurines, etc) or by directly charging viewers a fee to see all or part of the content. Many sites (especially webcomics), rely heavily on merchandising. It's a good relationship between producer and fans: the producer is financially supported and the fans get products they enjoy. However, some quality content producers, such as news services, may be unable to leverage merchandising in this way.

How do you think quality content providers will survive in an evolving internet? What is the best way of converting fan interest into financial support? Viewers may value a Yahtzee over silly videos on youtube, but how do you collect the funds to fund the hours of work each ZP video requires?

Thank you. The quality of the content and the writing is the reason I frequent this site. Keep it coming.

Archon:
In response to the rise of crowd-sourced fast food content, internet luminary Jaron Lanier (creator of the term "virtual reality") has written a new book called "You Are Not a Gadget," a manifesto against the sort of "digital Maoism" that glorifies free information and collective work over the creativity of individuals.

I'd say it's closer to digital Fascism as it's incredibly corporatist.

Besides, just because free information is glorified, that doesn't mean collective work is glorified over the creativity of individuals: let's not forget that there was electronic communication before the internet: The BBS.

The culture of the text file/e-zine glorified free information AND the creativity of individuals. In fact, you could say no culture has glorified the creativity of the individual more than the free text file BBS scene.

As publisher of The Escapist, this is more than a rhetorical debate to me. It's a debate about the future of the content publishing business - the future of my business. The questions that are raised are: What sort of content do people want? How do they find it? Does quality of content matter to them? And how much is that content worth?

This makes me think of the relationship of the internet to news media. The internet is a great echo chamber, but it has to echo *some* original reporting. What happens if the business model for *producing* news content has been wrecked by the internet, where stories are just summaries of the content you can get by clicking on the hyperlink at the bottom of the page?

The old saying is that "one man's trash is another man's treasure." It used to be that content companies succeeded by delivering treasure. Nowadays, they succeed by delivering trash to the people who will treasure it. But something important is lost in this process of catering to the trash collector in each of us - creativity itself, in the sense of creating something new and unexpected and worth noticing.

...

Or take the example of contemporary gossip and news websites like PopSugar, which rely on a steady stream of new pop stars and 'it girls' to talk about. A wonderful business, until you ask: Where do new pop stars come from? It used to be that brilliant musicians would be noticed by talented A&R (artist & repertoire) agents and brought to mass attention by inspired marketing. But that era has ended, as labels have cut most of their A&R staff and taken a different route - the route of fast food.

Thing is, that era ended a loooong time ago. The labels ended that era on their own, so they have no one to blame but themselves. It's not that the consumer only treasured trash and rejected creativity: it's that the music labels recognized that they could make a lot more money by homogenizing the music market and dumbing the consumer down in the first place. It's not the consumer that asked for the end of the DJ and the rise of Programming Directors and Music Scheduling Systems.

This is sort of the dark side of giving people what they didn't know they wanted until you gave it to them.

As Jaron Lanier writes at Edge, "it has become notoriously difficult to introduce a new pop star in the music business. Even the most successful entrants have hardly ever made it past the first album in the last decade or so. The exception is American Idol... The winners are likable, almost by definition. But John Lennon wouldn't have won. He wouldn't have made it to the finals." Fast food content can bring you Carrie Underwood, but it can't bring you Lennon - or Trent Reznor or Tori Amos.

Everyone forgets that The Beatles were the original boy band.

And I have a feeling Elvis would have done pretty well on American Idol ;-D

It's interesting to see the complaints about a culture that expects content for free, and then talk about the days when people expected good music just for the cost of a radio as some sort of golden age. Especially when you consider terrestrial radio was exempted from performance royalties in the U.S.--not only did consumers get their music for the cost of buying a piece of 'hardware', but companies were given the right to make money off of the works of artists without compensating them!

Archon:
So, I'm of mixed minds here.

The content in our weekly issues - that we have continued to publish - is chosen according to the same standards it was during the era when we made the PDF. The same set of writers creates the content. You can read every issue from 1 to the present on the site and I'd hold them all up as examples of great writing. So I'm just not certain where this sense that we've dumbed down the articles comes from.

But we certainly have added OTHER CONTENT that is not as high-brow as our weekly feature content. Does that mean the website itself is dumbed down, or does it mean we're simply serving different content in different flavors?

I don't think we've gone "dumb" and certain the other internet sites who make fun of us for being elitist snobs would find that funny, heh. But I appreciate that you've been a reader since our PDF days and I'm sorry you feel we've let you down. Thanks for your comments.

You beat me to my response. However, the difficulty is that even people seeking more intellectual content have much the same desires, they want what they want quickly, without trouble. The more other content you add, the higher the risk that the articles simply get drowned out. Now I note you've taken steps to address that problem via the "article bump" articles (as I call them) that I think it's Susan generally writes, but the flood of work that gets put through still has me often just skipping the actual issue because there are so many other little tidbits of stuff that, while somewhat interesting, just aren't as satisfying. But by the time I've gone through the tidbits, I'm out of time for the full thing.

I wonder if one way to address this is to essentially split the site. A "Dedicated Escapist", if you will, where (perhaps for some additional subscription fee) you can get the original articles (back in their beautiful magazine format.. dare I hope?), and have the rest of the site carrying all the 'other' stuff, with the article bump articles (and associated form thread) now being teasers for the subscription based area.

I have mixed feelings about this. If I enjoy the end results then the process doesn't matter. But usually, handcrafting and individual creativity seem to be much better than "assembly line" information work. But there are exceptions.

For instance, Penny Arcade helped sparked this creative wiki about a fantasy franchise that doesn't exist. (I'm not sure if the wiki is still around) This wiki has (or at least had) some really funny and creative content. But I think the main difference between this and something like Demand Media, is that what built that wiki wasn't people doing it for money but people doing it for FUN.

Wikipedia is also another example of some good work done by massive amount of people (with no clear creative unanimous individuals doing the work) On that same Edge website mentioned by Archon, Richard Dawkins says,

"I am repeatedly astounded by how good Wikipedia can be. I calibrate Wikipedia by looking up the few things I really do know about (and may indeed have written the entry for in traditional encyclopaedias) say 'Evolution' or 'Natural Selection'. I am so impressed by these calibratory forays that I go, with some confidence, to other entries where I lack first-hand knowledge (which was why I felt able to quote Wikipedia's definition of the Web, above). No doubt mistakes creep in, or are even maliciously inserted, but the half-life of a mistake, before the natural correction mechanism kills it, is encouragingly short. Nevertheless, the fact that the Wiki concept works, even if only in some areas such as science, flies so flagrantly in the face of all my prior pessimism, that I am tempted to see it as a metaphor for all that deserves optimism about the World Wide Web."

I guess you could consider this an argument from authority but I think the fact that Richard Dawkins is impressed with the quality of info of things that he is known to be an expert in isn't too unfair to mention.

So, I think a massive on line product done by massive amounts of unanimous people such as wikipedia or others can work well if it isn't being done by people for money but for the fact they doing it for fun or generally just want to communicate information to others.

I also think this factor of fun applies even to sites like the Escapist that have individuals making handcrafted "intellectual or creative work" for money. One of things that are impressive about this site is the amount of fun and humor displayed in a lot of the articles.

I think that, in the same way fast food and personalized food service have sort of balanced each other out, so too will this issue balance itself out. Oversaturating an already-oversaturated Internet with quick, meaningless clips and articles is only going to eventually alienate information-seekers, not to mention this multitude of near-useless, shotgun-spread data will eventually crowd each other out. Demand Media will become the "burger and fries" while sites like the Escapist will become the "five-course meal".

Now, if only reality would, just this once, actually go along with me.

Great article! Im a big fan of your works and if it werent for youre innovation and creativity I would be here 10 times a day every day.

The Escapist is the best! Inspiration to us who want to do what we love and want to do!

Susan Arendt:
Shigeru Miyamoto has said that the key to Nintendo's success is that they know what you want before you do...before you even know such a thing is possible, in fact. You'd better believe they're not using an algorithm as part of their creative process.

True. Of course, the dark side of this is that no one knew we needed sparkly vampires before Stephanie Meyer let them loose upon us.

Thanks everyone for the kind words and insightful thoughts.

swimon:
Anyone else think Macris reads Ayn Rand? ^^
Seemed like the article had some inspiration from her work. Like how individuals are the "fountainhead" of creativity or how the fast food created by the talentless masses is "parasitic".

Tere's no question on that front - I like Ayn Rand. I occasionally use some of the language as little hints to fellow fans.

Hope Chest:
I see it this way: there's a certain *kind* of low-brow content that people who love high-brow content enjoy. Like you mentioned Tori and Trent in the article, Tori fans who would not go near anything even vaguely 'metal' as far as music would get into Nine Inch Nails. I sort of see stuff like ZP that way: (at the risk of sounding ridiculously elitist here), sure it's funny to the least common intellectual denominator, but there's also something about it that appeals specifically to the high end too. It's not just the content itself: it's the feeling one gets that Yahtzee has read the same books and seen the same movies and laughed at the same comedians you have. The jokes are funny to everyone, but as a 'high brow' kind of person, there's an extra layer there of knowing *where* the jokes are coming from.

Yes, exactly! Well said. We want to have low-brow content, because it gaisn an audience, but we want it to be low brow content that will entertain our high-brow audience even more.

hdboomy:

1) Quality content producers must find a way to leverage far more ad dollars in far less volume than competing fast food producers (which operate larger ad volumes with smaller budgets).
This would mean convincing advertisers that each view by a return visitor is worth far more than each view by a one-time visitor of fast food content.
2) Engage the loyalty and interest of return visitors to directly fund the production of content. This can be through a store merchandising popular aspects of the content (ex. t-shirts, dvds, figurines, etc) or by directly charging viewers a fee to see all or part of the content.

That's a very astute analysis. At The Escapist, we've been able to demonstrate engagement (time on site, pages per visitor) that is 2-3 times higher than most of our competitors, as well as very high repeat usage, and that's been a key advantage for our sales team.

We are actively working to expand our direct revenue options. We grew merchandising from 0 to 6 figures in sales last year, which was really great - the Split Reason partnership has been wonderful. This year we're also going to add some premium membership options we hope you will like.

Of course if deep engagement, quality content, merchandise, and memberships fails, we can always fall back on traffic-building news like "LESBIAN SEX SECRETS OF BAYONETTA!!" with some Google Ads. ZOMG.

This level of sensitivity and insight is much appreciated in your audience and is the reason why I see use this site after discovering ZP.

Shine on you crazy Diamond!

You gotta suffer for art.

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