Friends of The Noisecast
Today’s guest post comes from Anthony Berry, avid guitar player, full-fledged grown up AND a smoking chimp (his words I assure you). You can find him on Twitter @Twanzio
What do you get when you cross Siri with an overly excited dude that works at Blockbuster? Apparently, you get “Max”. Max is a new feature on the PS3 version of Netflix that acts as a visual guide to help you select a movie based on your ratings for other films or your preference of actor (or as they put it “Get the Max from Netflix”). After a required update to Netflix on Friday night (Version 2.08), I noticed a new tier to the PS3 Netflix menu. Max starts an interactive guide to help navigate through the sometimes daunting amount of movies on Netflix.
Max immediately reminded me of an overly helpful teller at a bank. From the moment you select Max from the Netflix menu, you can tell they were trying to make the voice of Max as playful and friendly as possible. The first thing Max will ask is what genre of movie you want to watch. The categories provided were all categories that I’ve rated highly in the past. This will have Max start “The Rating Game” where you rate a series of movies to try to determine what mood you’re in.
You can rate the movie, play it directly if it looks interesting or skip it as “not interested”. Max then uses those ratings to give you an option of something to watch.
Still not interested? Max will give it another shot with a “Back-Up Plan”, which is just another movie option from the same genre. Still not feeling it? Then here comes the “Final 5 Countdown”, where another 5 movies are thrown at you to rate or skip. Still can’t find anything you might like? Well then FUCK YOU, Max says. Kidding, but it will pretty much just give up, tell you “until next time” and send you back to the catalog. A variation occurred the third time I used Max where instead of giving me a choice of movie categories, I was given the choice of movies starring two different actors (Robin Williams or Samuel L. Jackson). It was still essentially the same experience as before, but based around the actor themselves instead of based around a genre of films.
Finding something to watch on Netflix can be a painful experience. The tiered menu system for the PS3 is the equivalent of looking at a pile of movies on the floor to decide what to watch. The search system is about the same as yelling the name of the movie you’re looking for out your window and hoping for a response. Max is an attempt to solve those issues in an engaging and interactive way.
While I didn’t find Max especially helpful, my wife was instantly intrigued. She would respond to the voice prompts as if Max was actually there in our living room asking if we would be interested in watching Good Will Hunting or Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Plus, “gamifying” the whole selection process using “The Rating Game” and the “Final 5 Countdown” turned the usually mundane task of rating movies by clicking on little yellow stars into a sort of game show where the grand prize is something to watch.
Ultimately, Max didn’t find anything we were interested in watching but it did provide an interesting ride. Maybe with a bit more polish, it could develop into an interesting tool to finally solve the age old question: Whadda ya wanna watch?
Update: Want to see if you can get Max?