Fan Or Not?


If there’s one concept that’s affected gaming more than any other, it would have to be fandom. Video games live and die by their fans, as do their publishers and developers. It’s why new IP are considered risky while resources are poured hand over fist into sequel after sequel. What is a fan though? Is enjoying a game enough to be considered its fan or is there something more to it?

It’s easy to consider all of a game’s players to be its fans. If game time is finite, then the logical conclusion is that it’ll be spent with game enjoy. That may be true, but enjoyment and fandom are two different things. Simple enjoyment requires nothing more than buying the game and putting in some time. Fandom involves a bit more investment than that. It takes a game and elevates it into something that’s just a bit more.

To be a fan of a game series is to make it a part of one’s gamer identity. You don’t just play for the simple fun of it, you play it for something more than that. You’re playing  for the unique experience it offers. You’re playing  in order to follow the conversations surrounding the game. You’re playing  because not only because you enjoy it, but because you want to support it, ensure its success and see its world expanded through more sequels. You follow the series with expectations. When they’re met, the games can feel almost magical. When they aren’t though, the disappointment is very real; much more so than if you were only there for a fun gaming experience. Even in the midst of disappointment though, there’s always the next game. Next time they’ll get it right. After all, the series was great before, and it can be so again.

To pull from my own experiences, the one series for which I would not hesitate to call myself a fan is the Legend of Zelda. I’ve been hooked ever since I played *A Link to the Past” so many years ago on my (then) new Super Nintendo. I played through it, and most of the other entries in the series multiple times (with one notable exception). I love talking about it, I love writing about it, I love listening to the music in the background while I’m working. I’ve found myself disappointed a few times; mostly with those entries that were either to goofy or formulaic for their own good. However, those disappointments have yet to actually take something away from the series as a whole. There are plenty of other games and series that I like, and like talking about, but the Legend of Zelda is the one series  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to dislike.

As a point of contrast, I look to the Pokemon games. Like the Legend of Zelda, I grew up with pokemon. Unlike Zelda, I’ve never really gone out of my way for it. I’ve always really enjoyed the time I spent with the games, but that’s always been more or less the extent of my feelings towards the series. I’ve never made a point of buying the games at release; never spent that much time talking or writing about them, and never really got all that excited about its new releases. They’re games I’m happy to play, but I would never really consider myself a fan of them.

Being a fan brings a few extras to the gaming experience. It brings enthusiasm. It brings passion. It brings the jubilation of seeing your favorite series hit a home run, as well as the crushing disappointment that comes with finding a new entry to be wanting in some way. Being a fan requires an emotional investment, and that’s not something that we’re all incredibly willing to put into each and every game that we like. More often than not, it’s enough to simply enjoy the games we play rather than count ourselves among their fans.

Do you consider yourself a fan of anything? How would you say being a fan has affected your experiences with it? How would you define what a fan is?

Lede image captured by Hatm0nster

25 thoughts on “Fan Or Not?”

  1. There are a lot of series I’m huge fans of, probably too many to list, but I’d say Mass Effect is probably my biggest fandom right now. Some I’ve fallen away from include Halo, and possibly Final Fantasy. I’m hoping Andromeda doesn’t push me away from Mass Effect like Halo 4 and 5 started to do for Halo.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a huge Dragon Age Fan. I love the series, I love the writing. It’s a little obvious by the writing I’ve done in the past here. However, I have come up with an issue about the fans of the series that ended up with me being called a SJW and leaving a group because a simple question about diversity was asked. Since, I’ve dramatically decreased my interactions with other fans of Dragon Age because sadly they have shown their true colors. So, while I’m a fan of the series I find it troubling talking about important issues with the series with other fans…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s surprising. I guess I haven’t been around enough message boards. I’m sorry you had that experience! There’s no need for name-calling when you’re trying to discuss a game. Objective critique is the only way to keep games moving forward.

      Anyway, I love the Dragon Age series as well, particularly Dragon Age: Origins, as my blog has probably made clear 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ugh. I’ve been noticing that people are wound so tightly right now… It’s like some people have completely forgotten how to have a civil conversation with folks they might disagree with.

        Unrelated, I’m a huge DA fan so you’re always welcome to chat with me about the games!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Sorry to hear that. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that a lot of the fun of being a fan comes from sharing your thoughts/opinions of the game with other fans. Being unable to do that must be frustrating.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Definitely a fan of anything Nintendo related, namely Zelda and Metroid. But being a fan there are things I can like and dislike about each. For example, I consider myself a fan of Star Fox, but actually only like about 2-3 of the games I’ve played in the series. I’ve bought versions of star fox I wouldn’t consider good games, or games I even like.

    That being said, I think a fan doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who automatically likes everything that franchise throws at them, they are just eager to keep playing it even if there was a bad entry at some point they didn’t like.

    I do think there are many flavours of fans beyond just a basic fan, those that are extreme fans and can never think that game or company can do any wrong, like fanboys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So a fan is someone who’s willing to stick their series, either as someone who loves everything about it or as someone who only likes certain things about it and is willing to continue with it in the hope of seeing more of that?

      I wonder though, does behavior define us as fans, or is purely up to us to decide if we’re fans (or not) regardless?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm… I’m not sure that’s a great question. You’re question makes me think even further and to complicate the discussion more, what about being judged as a fan by another person.

        My explanation probably sucks so the simple example would be someone saying a person or a group of people are not true fans of something based on their behaviour.

        Now that I said that, I think it should be behaviour based. Sports comes to mind. I know people who watch every game of a team even when they are going through several bad seasons. They will support the team, may not be happy with the results, may even criticize them, but do it in a civilized manner. And are ultimately even happier when they are back on top. That to me would be a true fan.

        Translating that to gaming, a fan could be a fan of a franchise. That franchise has 1 or 2 bad games. This fan may not like those games, or even buy them, but are always looking to the horizon for the next release.

        It’s a very fine line, hard to define but again I think it’s partly behaviour based. I don’t know if I’m helping to define a fan or discussing fan vs true fan now. It’s pretty subjective in the end.

        Maybe we should all pool our thoughts into the gamer fans council and come up with the official definition and rules around it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Let us call an official session then. 😀

        Even so, you are right. In the end it’s all very subjective. I just thought it would be interesting to delve a bit further into the idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha my skills as a player can always be called into question. In all seriousness, I think a lot of the game requires a certain amount of visual acuity, but on my CRT TV I can’t make out little details on screen. I just wound up getting frustrated at the whole game because, well, I literally couldn’t figure out what was happening on screen sometimes. Once I upgrade my TV (…sigh) I’ll have to try again. I’d hate to miss out on a solid MGS title (no pun intended).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s weird – I wrote/posted a comment on this but it doesn’t seem to be showing up. Anyway, sorry if that other comment does appear later and I’ll have commented twice.

    Yes, I was thinking of Zelda right from the start of your post. (That could be just because Breath of the Wild hype right now, but I don’t think so.) At the moment I would say it’s the only series I’m a fan of, in the sense that one of the things I most enjoy about the series is making those comparisons between the different entries, looking for the differences, the details, etc. There’s not any other series where I go in for that kind of detail and depth, currently anyway.

    I was thinking about other, more modern examples of games that inspire fandom, the best examples I could think of were the Mass Effect and Dark Souls series. I’ve only played Dark Souls and it didn’t have that effect on me, but the level of detail I’ve seen people re-play and dissect those games is something else.

    Last thing, rather off-topic.. are you playing Breath of the Wild? If so, what do you think?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry, it looks like your other comment isn’t showing up. Must have been some sort of hiccup in the submission.

      To answer your question, I’m not currently playing Breath of the Wild, but I’ve seen a lot of it and definitely want to play it in the future! Will likely pick it up whenever I get around to getting a Switch.

      I love that they were willing to break so many of the old Zelda conventions in it. It’s really exciting (especially after Skyward Sword. Didn’t enjoy that one much).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw, sorry you didn’t enjoy Skyward Sword. I thought it was flawed in some respects but loved it regardless – far more than Twilight Princess and Wind Waker anyway. Heresy I know! Certainly Breath of the Wild is a significant step beyond Skyward Sword in terms of getting away from the Zelda blueprint. 15-20 hours in and I’m loving not knowing what’s going to happen.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post. This is such a fun topic. I’m definitely a fan of The Witcher series, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. Those are the games where I don’t just play them and then forget about them, I actually know tons of the lore surrounding them, go back to replay them, and have conversations with others about them when I’m not playing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it was the romances, at least for the BioWare games. I would research them online sometimes if I was having trouble with them or unsure of who to pick, and discuss them with other players. The romances are what set those games apart for me, although in the end it was the whole in-game worlds that really captured me!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, that’s pretty close to what is was for me. It was that constant sense of discovery the games offered, especially the first one. New worlds to discover, new species to encounter, and new sides of your crew-mates to see. It was excellent!

        Liked by 1 person

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