Sunday, February 19, 2006

The EVILs of DVDs and their "user interfaces"

My wife and I are big into electronic entertainment. For a long time, we've had a variety of different devices. Yes, we even have a laser-disc player. And... We have 3 (yes, three!) TiVos; all networked together.

We bought our first DVD player about 5 years ago. We got it when we found out that The Matrix was not ever going to come out on laser disc.

At first, the nifty way that DVD players could provide a user interface seemed interesting. You would have a menu of sorts (feels like a web interface) that guided you through a variety of things - from settings for viewing to the DVD (does anyone ever really use those??) to special features to alternate versions and so on.

Another thing that you have with DVDs (like all video entertainment - laser discs and video tapes as well) are the various warning messages - you know what I mean - the FBI warnings, blah blah blah.

Lately, I've noticed a nasty trend with these things...

Sometimes when you first put the disc into your player and sometimes when you push "Play" on the movie, you see those warnings. All fine and good, right? Well more and more often, I find that I can neither skip over those warnings nor fast forward over them! You're trapped into watching them!

Now, I am not an expert in user interface design but one thing I will tell you is that people hate feeling like they have no control over their experience!

Yet that's exactly what these people are doing. "You're going to shut up, sit down and read this or else, buddy!" is what they're telling us!

I also find the same kind of thing with the usually ridiculously-long "intros" before you get to the menu. "Gee - look at the cool graphics and gee-whiz animation we can make.... No, we're not going to let you skip over this, you moron!"

While I've seen these on DVDs from even the "early days" of the format, it seems like it's getting worse.

With the warning messages, I'm sure it's just a case of them feeling like we need to take our medication... As if we haven't seen and ignored it a million times before, people! When you fly regularly, do you really think you're going to listen to any of the pre-flight 'training' message?? No! When you watch DVDs all the time, do you really think you're going to read that stupid warning again??!??! NO!

As for those introductory bits - it feels like the "artists" that are responsible for the take themselves a bit too seriously or something and feel like, "Well, we're in a position to force these people to watch this, so we will!"

Blech. It's getting to the point where I dread those things.

Of course, I don't have long to wait before yet another format comes along that makes us replace all of our movies yet again because it will be "better" than what we have now and then the format will stop being sold, and then machines will slowly stop being sold and then they'll stop servicing the machines. "Oh, wow, you have a DVD player??? Man, those are sooo old!"

I should just stick to reading, right? :-)

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