Alright gang, pull up a seat and let’s talk about the number one topic on the hearts and minds of children everywhere: curation. If you’re unaware already, curation in this context is the act of selecting games to highlight and present to customers. Every marketplace/ community/ website takes a different approach based on what they think works best for them and their content. With this being such a contentious topic I wanted to lift the curtain a little on how we’re curating content on itch.io and where you can find this curated content.
How we’re curating
If you’ve kept up with the curation debate in games, you’re probably familiar with the trend toward replacing human choices with algorithms. To put it bluntly: We’re not super interested in that. One of the things we’re proudest of is the diversity in the community on itch.io and the diversity in the games hosted on the site. An over-reliance on algorithms typically narrows down recommendations to only the most “profitable” games and has historically worked to the detriment of marginalized groups. We don’t want that. Reliance on algorithms also allows bad actors to game the system. We also don’t want that. So we do things the old fashioned way: most of the content on our front page at any given time is hand-picked by someone on staff. (We’ll go into detail about what content is and isn’t hand-curated in the next section)
We’re proud to recommend games we think are interesting to the itch.io community and we’re constantly updating the front page so that there’s something new whenever you come back to the site. Is it a lot of work? Yeah. Is it worth it? We think so. Furthermore we try not to limit ourselves with strict rules about what we want to feature. What matters to us is highlight creative works that resonate with us and (hopefully) you, whatever that means.
Where we’re curating
So now that you know how we curate, where can you see these games? One place is right here, the itch.io Blog! Once a week we highlight 3 projects with some short write ups for each. These might be indie darlings or secret masterpieces from game jams. Some of these aren’t even games! You can read the backlogs of itch.io Recommends here. We also do more infrequent interviews with developers and spotlights on specific games.
What if you don’t want to read and can’t wait every week? This is when the previously mentioned Featured Games section comes to the rescue. Our staff spends a lot of time looking at games on itch.io. We spend more time than we imagine anyone else would so we condense some of what we’ve found onto the top of our front page. This is one of the fastest moving areas of the site and I think the most approachable way of beaming our recommendations right into your computer.
If you want to hear from us outside of the site itself we also do curation on our Twitter, Facebook, and infrequently in our email digest. On Twitter and Facebook you can get updates from us daily and our digest is a massive curatorial haul that comes out semi frequently. These channels also talk about site happenings and upcoming jams/ projects so there’s something for everyone in there!
Alright, now we’ve got to talk about our robots. We’ve got 100,000 projects on our site now and while we look at a lot of games every day, we can’t look at all of them. That’s where our robots come in. There is a portion of our front page under the Recommended For You header that is just games that our robots think you’ll like based on what you’ve downloaded and played in the past.
Finally we also have curation that comes from the community. Underneath the Featured Games section are the Fresh Games. This is a collection of games that have been featured in users’ collections around the site. If you want even more community curation you can follow other users so you can see their collections or just check out the collections themselves. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make a friend out of it.
We’re really pleased with the amount of curation that we do on the site, but we know we can keep improving. Curation is a bit like swimming upstream and while no method is perfect we hope you find some games you’ve never seen before through our efforts.
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