OTW Fannews: Fandom as the Solution

  • Vulture recently did a long feature on fans and fandoms which included rating “devoted” fandoms, profiling particularly active fans from major fandoms, and a few other fandom-related stories which focused largely on obsessive fan behavior. A number of fans took issue with the conclusions reached, while other publications such as Slate echoed many fans’ complaints about poorly defined fannish behavior. “[I]n my experience, intense fandom often leads to a spike in creativity, as anyone who has perused the costumes people make for comic book conventions can tell you. Repeatedly in this article, fandom is flagged as an obstacle for living your life and developing your relationships with others.”
  • A good counterexample of “fandom as a life obstacle” comes from an Illinois State feature on one of its grads who got his dream job thanks to fandom. “Chicago Cubs fans are a passionate, loyal bunch, and they all have their own story about how they became a fan. For Brad Nagel ’07, it was his grandparents, die-hard fans who never missed a game.” Nagel now gets to be the team’s fandom liaison. “Nagel pitched some ideas for bridging what he thought was disconnect between the Cubs’ front office and its loyal fans. The Cubs called him in 2009 and brought him on board as a full-time customer relations coordinator, capturing fan feedback through emails, calls and letters. When the Ricketts family bought the team toward the end of 2009, one of their first initiatives was the creation of a Fan Experiences Department, where Nagel eventually landed.”
  • The Cubs are not alone. On the entertainment industry side, creators, networks and studios want to better understand fans and how to market to them. “‘One of the things we have developed here at ITV is a needs-based model looking at how and why people get engaged with certain programmes away from the linear broadcast, and what’s driving that behaviour – whether it’s buying a magazine or looking at websites. This really helps identify the [communications] opportunities for us,’ says Watson. ‘Tactically, we’re looking at identifying the big opportunities for creating, converting and engaging with fans – helping us direct communications strategies.'”
  • Media outlets are also seeing the personal connection as the best point of focus. The Nieman Journalism Lab recently featured a piece on gaming site Polygon and how they plan to set themselves apart as video game journalists. “Justin McElroy, Polygon’s managing editor, said they wanted to take an approach to video game coverage that wasn’t as product-centric — which is difficult since games are items which are bought and sold. McElroy said their challenge is to think bigger, to find unexpected stories about people who make games and people who love games. ‘With our features especially, we have an opportunity to change the story and make it about people,’ he said. ‘People are infinitely more interesting than products and brands.'”

If you’re a gaming fan, a sports fan, or have your own story about how fandom put you ahead in life, why not write about it in Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.