Consuming media should be a simple process, right? You hear about the video game/film/music album/television show/ what have you, do what you can to experience it and that’s the end of that. However, things aren’t always that straightforward. Maybe the video game is on a dead platform. Perhaps the film isn’t readily available through legal channels. It could be that the lauded album fell into obscurity and is now out of print. There’s even the possibility that the distribution company never bothered selling box sets of that show you want to watch. Even without considering those factors, sometimes the method of discovering the existence of these works in the first place can get downright bizarre when you begin summing it up on paper. It goes to show how seemingly unrelated actions taken by random people influence other people in ways they couldn’t possibly know.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of watching Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy. Despite what the opening paragraph may suggest, getting a copy of the films was simple enough; how I learned of them in the first place is the strange part. After I was on the fence about a certain independent film critic’s conclusions, I wondered if anyone posted a rebuttal to any of them. As it turns out, one person did, and he ended up mocking said critic for praising a summer blockbuster as though it were the Three Colors trilogy. Hearing that got me interested in checking it out for myself, and when I did, I was very impressed. They’re worth looking into, as they are erudite films without being the least bit pretentious (the exact opposite of what Jonathan Blow and the like would create). So in other words, that critic had to review two specific films, causing an essayist to post a rebuttal, which in turn led me to discover the Three Colors trilogy when the latter drew a quick comparison.
What is probably my favorite story about discovering a video game concerns the Metal Gear franchise. Growing up, my brother had an NES, and one of the games happened to be Snake’s Revenge. I remember liking the game, though I had absolutely no idea how it worked and mostly watched my brother play it instead. In 2006, somebody on YouTube following the influx of incendiary, profane reviews inspired by James Rolfe’s The Angry Video Game Nerd character posted a derisive piece on Snake’s Revenge. I was a bit shocked to see the game I remembered enjoying as a subject of ridicule, though he made a lot of good points. Indeed, when I replayed the game for myself later in 2007, I ended up agreeing with the reviewer; it really hadn’t aged well.
Later in 2008, Metal Gear Solid 4 was released. Because of the unanimously great reviews it was getting, I was at last interested in checking out the rest of the series. There was only one problem; I didn’t have a PlayStation 3. Nonetheless, I did know that Metal Gear Solid was remade in the form of The Twin Snakes for the GameCube, a console I did possess. However, that route had its own problem; the game was out of print by 2008. Even so, I was determined to get a copy, and how I ended up getting one proved surprisingly complicated. I was vacationing in Orange County, California when I ended up taking the wrong route and getting lost. By chance, I happened upon a GameStop. As I intended to seek out a copy at any of the stores I could find, I decided to try my luck there. Sure enough, that specific store had one used copy.
So to sum things up, my brother had to buy a copy of Snake’s Revenge back in the day, somebody had to post a review of it ten years after I last played it, thus prompting me to try it again myself. After that, Metal Gear Solid 4, a game I would later learn Hideo Kojima didn’t want to make, was released, getting me interested to check out the series, which happened because I took a wrong turn on vacation. Because I was impressed with The Twin Snakes and wanted to see more of what the series had to offer, I ended up finally getting a PlayStation 3 in April of 2009 along with copies of Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Metal Gear Solid 4. Metal Gear Solid 3 ended up becoming one of my favorite games of all time, and because I had a PlayStation 3 by 2013, I could easily get a copy of The Last of Us, which I was interested in playing because it had received perfect scores across the board. In other words, fans sending death threats to Hideo Kojima to continue the series, me taking a wrong turn while on vacation, and somebody turning in their copy of The Twin Snakes all led to me not only discovering the Metal Gear series in earnest, but also starting this site, as my subsequent disappointment in The Last of Us was a key factor that prompted me to do so.
Now it’s your turn.
What unlikely set of factors led you to discovering a great work?
Bonus Question: What unlikely set of factors inspired you to pick up something new?