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Accessibility and depth: The keys to success in popular media

Come on, everyone loves him.

What do Super Smash Bros., Rock Band, and The Beatles have in common? Other than an absolutely awful pun involving plastic rock bands that almost became the title of this article, they are all extremely popular with many different demographics. While these two games and one band may not necessarily be everyone's absolute favorite, they will likely be in a list of games and music that they can abide by and enjoy as a group.

Essentially, they are crowd pleasers. Regardless of the fact that my father and I both sneer at each other's respective musical tastes, we can both sit down and agree that Paul McCartney is an excellent song writer. While I may prefer Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and my friend may prefer Call of Duty: Black Ops, we can both have fun over a game of Super Smash Bros., and our other, non-gamer friends can join in on a game of Rock Band as well.

 

But what makes these things such crowd pleasers? Why isn't Call of Duty considered a good game for you and three of your friends to sit on the couch and play? The first key is that Super Smash Bros., Rock Band, and The Beatles are very accessible to people who don't necessarily know much about them. You don't have to memorize tons of ten-button-long-combos to be able to hold your own in Super Smash Bros. You don't need to be able to explain what a 5/13 time signature is (or even know what one sounds like) to appreciate the Beatles' songwriting. You don't need to have fingers of lightning to play along with your friends at Rock Band. Anyone can get to enjoying these fairly quickly without needing to have spent hours immersed in the subject beforehand.

Mario
In this case, it's true.

Beside this, these two games and one band also have an impressive level of depth, so if you want to study them for days on end, you can. You can memorize all of the unique abilities and the best implementation of every character in Super Smash Bros., you can learn the intricacies of how the piano solo to In My Life was written (or listen to I Am the Walrus backwards, if that's more your style), and you can bleed your fingers until you successfully play the entirety of Painkiller by Judas Priest on expert difficulty. If you want the depth that can only be reached after weeks of diligent practice, it's there too.

Even if you do pursue this higher level of understanding, that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy it alongside those who choose to remain at the surface. Just because you're the only one who understands the socio-political undertones of Revolution and its alternate takes doesn't mean that your brother who thinks that Vietnam is in Russia can't hum along alongside you. Just because you want to play Battery on expert doesn't mean that your drummer has to stop playing on medium. Even if you learn everything there is to know about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, that doesn't mean that your friend can't beat you every once in a while when he gets to the Final Smash Ball first.

By contrast, games like Call of Duty and Street Fighter require a lot of practice to be effective. You will be completely destroyed when you walk into a multiplayer lobby the first dozen times, and you will never beat that friend of yours that can endlessly combo-chain you to death. Ever.

Call of Duty 4
Just start the respawn timer. You will not win.

Super Smash Bros., Rock Band, and The Beatles are so ubiquitously popular because everyone can understand them at their own level. And if you get tired, no one is going to blame you for joining in on singing "Eye of the Tiger" on easy.


There's a reason they made this
There's a reason they made this


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