Dec 02 2017

I Can’t Stand Hype Culture

Something that I’ve been wanting to discuss for quite some time is the phenomena of hype being built up around seemingly anything and everything new.  Whenever you have something new coming up, you hear about it nonstop, and often times, in retrospect, you have to ask: why did anyone care in the first place?

It always seems to go like this: Something new will be announced, a movie, a game, some new tech device, whatever. It will gather the attention of people and the media and will be heavily anticipated and discussed. This is almost always intentional on the part of the creators of the thing at hand – this attention and awareness usually means more sales of the product, showings of the film, viewers to the TV show, what have you – and in and of itself is a natural part of advertising that something exists.

By the time the product reaches availability, one of a few things usually happens. For one-shot things, like movies or games, there’s a ton of attention at the offset, then it very quickly (usually in the first couple of weeks) dies off. What could be, in the case of some games, literally years of hearing about it coming and how amazing it will be winds up fading away over a dozen days or so.

Sure, sometimes something will last and maintain a high popularity, but more often than not things just fizzle away. There’s another rather common end result to all the hype though – Disappointment.

A fine example of hype, the Virtual Boy was supposed to be amazing, but wound up being a flop.

We all know those things we got excited over that were major let downs. In gaming, some more infamous examples were No Mans Sky, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Titanfall, seemingly every Call of Duty game now. The list goes on and on and while yes, some of these games do have good fanbases (I for one really enjoyed Titanfall) on the grand scheme they didn’t live up to the expectations generated by the companies behind them.

Movies and TV as well have this happen: I remember Fox heavily promoting a show back in 2011 called “Terra Nova.” It was a sci-fi show which I already knew was destined for failure – seems like any sci-fi on Fox is doomed, and sure enough even with all the hype and promotion, the show bombed.

Films too have this happen, but sometimes, it’s after the fact. When people look back on the top-grossing film that was Avatar, they realize it was a pretty bland film that had one major gimmick behind it – it was the beginning of the late 2000’s 3D film craze, that trend in and of itself something overhyped just as it has been in decades past. The Transformers films, too, are good examples where people originally were like “Hey, these are great” but in retrospect cringe when they are brought up.

At least it seems with film people are getting good about avoiding getting their expectations up now, but for other media or tech, that isn’t the case. It’s especially bad in tech when companies pretty much have to build up excess hype around the concept of a new product so they can get money to actually attempt to create it.

 

Windows Vista was supposed to be a major improvement to windows, and was hyped before its launch. Another disappointment in the long term, though.

 

Yeah, nothing exists yes, and might not even be realistically feasible, but they sure do want to sell you on the idea with a promise it will happen. This really is the core of the phenomena I call “Trendy Science.” Sell people who don’t know any better an idea that sounds amazing, but is in reality just not going to work. It still gets you money and if, or more correctly when, the tech fails to deliver, well, that’s just too bad, it was an investment risk after all!

I just find it very odd that people keep on falling for this. That, on top of how annoying it is to hear about something for possibly years before its release, knowing that people won’t talk about it after just a few weeks, yet if you at all show disinterest, oh no, that’s bad: you have to get hyped over this new game no one will care about this time next year! You just have to watch this movie, otherwise you’re not normal. Okay that may be a bit hyperbolic but that’s the attitude present.

Inevitably people are disappointed more often than not, yet they never realize they set themselves up for this disappointment by falling for all the hype. They don’t ever seem to think about the easy way they can avoid it all, by simply not falling for it.

Temper your expectations. The more someone talks about how amazing something will be, expect it to disappoint. Then, if it doesn’t, well, you’ll be surprised and happy. Wait until you have the actual product available to build an opinion. I’m not saying don’t get excited for something, sure, when you have reason to, and it looks like something you will want, go for it. Just wait until you do have reason. For example, only a week before the release of Sonic Mania did I really get excited; I saw raw gameplay footage and knew “alright, this looks like something I will enjoy” and indeed it was. I was actually skeptical of how good it would be given SEGA’s history with such, but once I saw what it actually was, only then did I decide “okay, this might actually be good.”

That’s really it – you already know companies are going to promote something as the best thing ever – don’t expect it to be. Expect it to be perfectly average, at best, and you’ll be more often surprised than not at how good some things are, rather than how terrible they wound up being, when you were told constantly how good they would be.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.xadara.com/i-cant-stand-hype-culture/

1 comment

  1. Undersell and overdeliver, not oversell and underdeliver.
    A classic example of overhyping that I personally like is the Edsel. If Ford didn’t talk it up so much, it likely would’ve been a standard seller, but because of how much they hyped it we remember it today as a tremendous flop.

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