So I recently read a book called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and it got me thinking. The book was about a fanfiction writer whom escaped the reality she didn’t want to face through the world of writing about her favorite characters in a series that she liked. It was placed in her first year of college making it very approachable to various age groups. It gave the reader an inside look of the mysterious world of fanfiction and also a look into how a girl struggles through college with everything she wasn’t use to being thrown at her. I related to the character in small ways as a fanfiction writer myself and was also easily pulled in by the writer’s flowy style of writing. Everything seemed to just fit and it was fairly easy and fast to read due to that. It did get me thing about how fans are viewed and not just with book series and fanfiction but with games as well.
One of the most obvious games it got me thinking about was Pokémon and the fan culture surrounding the game. First off the big notion with Pokémon is that the fans have a large age range despite the fact that Pokémon’s target audience is young children. The reason this is because of the marketing techniques used as well as nostalgia and fans of the game. The fans of Pokémon make the game. Any fan of any game essentially does this because the developer can read, now a days, on the internet what fans like and dislike very easily. The fan experience of a game is much different than that of the developer or the casual consumer. The fan invests a little bit of their life to the game and non-game that they are a fan of. All the fans of Dark Souls play hundreds of hours over the game despite the fact that they have probably completed it many times over because they love the game.
Another interesting thing about fans is what they like. Each fan is their own person and because of this they each have their own preference to what games they like and what they like about those certain games. In Pokémon I enjoy the fire starter and how I can just run through the game really fast. Other fans though love a different Pokémon or a different mechanic of the game or even just trying to catch all the Pokémon in the game. Each person is different and so are their interests which is why multi-dynamic games are great because it allows diversification for what you are doing in the game.
An interesting part of the fan world that the book revolves heavily around is the world of fanfiction. Now for most people fanfiction is this weird mystical place where people only write smut and kinky sex content (Thanks Fifty Shades) but that is not all it is. Fanfiction is a place of creative release as well as an opportunity to make something people enjoy. Some authors on fanfiction use this creative outlet to really see if they want a career in writing or just as a way to make friends from around the world that share the same interest as you do within the fandom. It creates little niche groups where many do not feel judged. Going back to Pokémon fanfiction can just be a way to write in fillers of the journeys you have on you Gameboy or Nintendo DS system. It can also be a way for you to fully imagine what it would be like to be a Pokémon trainer or just an escape from a normal everyday life where you feel special. You get to write out and experience everything you would want to do in the Pokémon world. On the flip side you also have the authors that just love creating stories with the characters that are already there and some of those stories are brilliantly written where you want their world to be what the Pokémon world already is. It is amazing what comes out of the fanfiction world because many of these fans seem to have an infinite amount of creativity within them.
Another way fans express themselves is the fan-art and act of cosplaying. Cosplaying is an act as it is a combination of acting in character as well as making yourself look like someone you are not, be it from a video game to a movie or anime. It is a way for a fan to outwardly express their love for the character and a way to pretend that they were the character and went through the characters adventures even just for a little while. In a way it is similar to fanfiction but it is still different as you are pretending you are the character rather than you yourself being placed into the story. The fan-art is an amazing part of fan culture. You find amazing artist within the community and sometimes you wonder why these artists are not famous or are professional artists. Most of the artists in the fan-art community just draw, paint, or sketch on the side while they lead other professions as their main job.
This review is not to really say that fan culture is as concrete as I am writing it out to be though. In actuality despite the fact that I am a part of the fan community I still feel like I know so little about fan culture. This book review morphed into a little bit of a short take but at the same time I am happy it did because the book really did make me think about all these different fan cultures. I am really glad that my friend recommended this book to me as I enjoyed it. I would recommend this book to many others.