Games live and die by their fan base, and fandoms are a great way to transition casual consumers into lifelong fans, who will go on to invite more people into the space, creating more fans and more engagement. The question then becomes, how do you make a system to support a fandom? How can you plan around having fans, and nourish a growing fan base until it can support itself and your game back? Enter, the GDC showcase.
At this year’s GDC Showcase, Julian Quijano, Creative Director for Beautiful Glitch and designer for the game Monster Prom and its spin offs and sequels, discussed fostering fan space and creating binge-worthy content.
The core concept of this 30 minute talk is the idea of multilayered consumption; consumers find a product for one reason, and stay hooked long enough to do a deep dive of interest and research, which gets them interested in the game in the long run. While there are many ways to do this, we can see these examples in other games and media, such as the use of a First Big Choice. How many times have we seen a Buzzfeed quiz about ‘What Hogwarts house are you?’ or “What Pokemon starter are you?’ or other sorting metrics that pop up on social media. Maybe we don’t care or know anything about Fire Emblem, or what house we’re supposed to be in, but that initial choice and identity helps to catch your interest, maybe do a quick search and look into something that five seconds ago you had zero knowledge of.
Once there, you keep them there with the immersion, what not only results in retention, but stops them from changing the channel. For instance, taking the mundane and making it magical, or taking the fantastic and making it mundane and normal. This is explained as the ‘Power of the Relatable’, and can easily be seen in things like My Hero Academia, a mundane scenario (high school) with fantastic elements (all the students have super powers and this is normal). This is your content, and the bulk of your story.
And finally, the binge-worthy elements, and what brings people back again and again. It’s all about the characters, and relationships, in the fandom world. Having strong characters with strong voices and values is what encourages fans to put themselves in the universe again and again. Make OCs, ship characters! See what happens if you put someone here, if you tweak this just a little, and how it affects things. This fosters debate and engagement, and results in those deep dives and devoted fans that make fandom great.
Fandom, community, and fanworks are a vital part of the following of a game, and it’s important to consider them in any work you do. So get out there and create! Whether it’s some visual art or short stories for a game you can’t get enough of, or your own masterpiece worthy of fandom, putting yourself out there is a key part of creation, and a community of supporters is never to be looked down upon.