This Week in Fandom, Volume 57

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, Steven Moffat would like everyone to know that there has been no backlash from anyone about Jodie Whittaker being cast as The Doctor. Ok, Steven. It’s not like it’s ever been a controversial issue.

The talk of the moment is the new video game dating sim Dream Daddy. In the game, the player character and the datable non-player characters are all dads, with cisgender and transgender options for both and a variety of races. Kotaku recently did an earnest interview with game creators Leighton Gray and Vernon Shaw about the achievements and criticisms of the game, which they published as two articles (link 1) (link 2).

According to Gray and Shaw, their overall approach to the game was serious with a side of humour. “Especially being a very queer game, it wouldn’t have felt right for it to be 100 percent a joke. [We] harped on this concept of sincerity a lot. When you tell a story to the internet, it’s hard to tell a serious story at face value. You have to wrap in a couple of layers of jokes and irony and cynicism for people to really accept it.”

One thing they didn’t harp on, however, was the sexuality and gender identity of the characters. “We never wanted to make any of the dads’ stories revolve around their sexuality… I think a big goal for this was normalizing a lot of this stuff and just treating it like it’s not a big deal.”

Despite that approach, it was still a priority for Gray and Shaw to create realistic portrayals, and though they are not queer men, they acknowledged their own limitations and explained how they requested outside input from queer people. “[We] don’t know what we don’t know. What we didn’t know, we definitely reached out to people to try and help us better understand. […] For the most part it was reading through the script with them… [and] asking them questions about how the inter-character interactions would work out, and how real they felt.”

And how have fans reacted to the game? Quite positively, overall. All you have to do is glance at #DreamDaddy on Twitter or Tumblr for copious amounts of fanart, imagines, and funny incorrect quotes.

Have you played Dream Daddy? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

In other news, psychologists and researchers are talking about how fandom is good for your mental health. Teen Vogue recently published an article about the benefits of fandom. According to the article, “fangirls, boys and -doms are not mindless obsessions, they are powerful forces.” [Editor’s note: Are we still doing phrasing?] While the article focused on teenagers, the points hold true for people of all ages. “Connecting with people over shared passions and interests is good for mental and emotional health because it helps to create a fraternity-like or family-like sense of security.”

The article goes on to caution against allowing fandom to become an “obsession,” however. “There is a difference between obsession and genuine ardor. Mainly, obsession conflates fiction with reality, and interferes with one’s quality of life. The difference isn’t necessarily who is more impassioned, it’s whether or not you can maintain a healthy perspective, and remain engaged in other activities and responsibilities.”

The psychological benefits of fandom are also being applied to marketing techniques. Variety recently published an article about the conclusions of a year-long study of fandom by “brand experience agency” Troika. This was the main takeaway:

“After a year of comprehensive and systematic research, we can safely say fandom is a relationship — a love relationship between the self and an object of fandom, whether that object is a show, movie, book, sport, team, league, band, genre, product, brand, person, activity, or idea. We actually refer to fandom as “love,” differentiating it from “liking something” by the loyalty, devotion, depth of interest, willingness to invest, and desire for closeness that it engenders. While at face value fandom may look unidirectional, reciprocity is underway nonetheless.”

The article goes on to detail ways to handle that reciprocity in a style of marketing with a focus on community management, but for fans, the main takeaway is that media producers and brands are being encouraged to have a relationship with fans that is respectful and real.

What do you think of this approach? Have you seen cases where it’s gone well? Gone badly? Share your stories!

Lastly, in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, the fan convention Fandom Fest made a bid for the most disorganized gathering since DashCon. The Beat published an article detailing the failures of the con, including the cancellation–or “cancellation”–of 25 celebrity guests, for which no photo op/autograph tickets were refunded, and a last-minute venue change to an old Macy’s store, where the fire marshal limited attendance to 1700 people at a time.

Despite the poor handling of things, though, some fans managed to make the best of a bad situation and still have fun.

We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

This Week in Fandom
  1. TenRose43va commented:

    Yes, because opinion pieces written by haters who cherry-pick bits and pieces to make showrunners look as bad as possible (when their comments have been more complex than that, but of course those have been left out) are really newsworthy and so fantastic for fandom’s mental health.

    He’s not a misogynist. No matter how many times delusional fans may repeat that rubbish just because the show isn’t the oh-so-romantic Ten and Rose Bullies’ Clique Show anymore. He’s the guy who strove to make every Who episode pass the Bechdel test, he’s the one who took the issues about female characters, black characters, queer characters seriously. RTD didn’t. And doubtless Chibnall will do an even worse job.

    Seriously, that’s trashy tabloid-style journalism you’re endorsing there, and fanning the flames of yet further fanwars. Keep your biased hate out of it. It’s bad enough in Who fandom as it is, for Christ’s sake.