From Elder Scrolls to Fortnite, gaming fan fiction is just getting started.
Fan fiction is ingrained in any large communities’ psyche. First beginning with Star Trek in the 60s, the genre has evolved and grown, as more movies, TV shows, music, and video games have come to pass.
So, where did it all begin? Specifically, gaming fan fiction came to light in the late 90s, at the dawn of the internet, where fan fiction, in general, became more popular. According to one estimate, fan fiction makes up 1/3rd of all content about books on the web.
FanFiction.net was launched in 1998, and the portal gave fans an outlet and a place to post their stories, for the world to see. While it was mainly movies and TV shows in the beginning, games quickly began to infiltrate the site. Nowadays, the page features stories about everything from Assassins Creed to Papers, Please.
WHY DID IT START?
Going back to the very beginning, and Star Trek fan fiction, the book ‘Science Fiction Culture’ by Camille Bacon-Smith (2000) states that fan fiction “fill[s] the need of a mostly female audience for fictional narratives that expand the boundary of the official source products offered on the television and movie screen.”
It’s probably obvious that Role Playing Games (RPGs) ruled the genre, making it easier for excited writers to slot their ideas into an already elaborate storyline, and make their wildest dreams come true. Game series like The Witcher and Elder Scrolls slotted themselves into the genre fluidly, given there was already an elaborate and complicated lore pool to pluck from.
In an article by PCGamer they discuss the fact that canon material is being reinterpreted to a state where the lore is becoming complicated. Some fans are critical of subreddits such as r/teslore, where many believe the writers depict their own fan fictions as “true and canon”, and feel like they are truthfully filling holes in the Elder Scrolls storyline. The development company Bethesda themselves were encouraging fan fiction from the beginning, asking fans to start discussions about the lore, and even participating themselves.
WHY DO PEOPLE WRITE GAMING FAN FICTION?
People write gaming fan fiction for numerous reasons. It could just be a creative outlet, a way to feel more immersed in the game, or for an expansion on the lore they love so much. Perhaps a certain storyline in an RPG was flawed, and the player wanted a different outcome – now they can make that happen, and literally rewrite history.
A reader feature in Metro titled ‘why I write video game fan fiction’, delves into fan fiction as a creative outlet, which can be combined with their love of gaming. The reader, known as LastYearsModel09, focuses on action-adventure series Uncharted, and explains their reasons for writing their content.
I’m sure it all sounds very geeky but it’s another way to interact with the games and characters I love so much. I also find writing to be therapeutic, as it helps me to work through some of my emotions.
Romance is often the key element of fan fiction writing, and basically boils down to; “I want these two characters to be together, and since the developers didn’t do it, I’ll write it myself”.
Romance storylines are lacking in some RPGs, or the outcome isn’t as the player had hoped. The Witcher is a perfect example of this, as the fan fiction written about the series often features different romantic partners for character Geralt or imagines further detail on current relationships.
Wattpad, one of the biggest fan fiction portals, not only hosts thousands of stories about One Direction and Doctor Who, but features long-form pieces written by fans, about the games they enjoy. Wattpad is known in the wider community as a forum for “slash” or “lemon” stories, meaning stories of a sexual nature, and this rings true even in their gaming fan fiction submissions.
In a guide to writing fan fiction, by blogger Aldrin, they cite their reason for writing gaming fan fiction is immersion.
Once you’ve completed the story, you want to have more! The craving is unrelenting, isn’t it? So you might start to write your own take on the world with its own stories! And thus, Gaming Fanfictions are born!
Aldrin goes on to cite his opinions on what games work best with fan fiction writing, saying “Skyrim or other Elder Scrolls games are fantastic! So deep in lore and structure, you can spawn any story from it! Dragon Age, is also a world that most can get immersed in. I’ve watched many reviews about it, and they all say how good the story is. Assassin’s Creed is also brilliant, as it’s all integrated into history anyway.” These are all role-playing games, as aforementioned, and Aldrin does suggest that fan fiction he’s seen based on titles like Minecraft and Battlefield are “extremely bad”.
THE LATEST GENRE FOR FAN FICTION WRITERS – BATTLE ROYALES
The Battle Royale genre is the latest craze in gaming, swooping in out of nowhere and picking up millions of followers and fans. Games like Fortnite and Apex Legends garner so much attention, that it’d be crazy not to assume someone out there is writing fan fiction – because they are.
Fanfiction.net has it’s own Apex Legends section, for example, where the plots range from horror to action, to romantic entanglements, all expanding on the lore, and the players own wants. The Fortnite subsite is also active but focuses more on creating lore, as the Fortnite world doesn’t have many set or returning characters to work from.
WHERE WILL IT GO NEXT?
Although fan fiction is decades old, it’s only just getting started. As more games are released, and more titles in certain series are announced, the fan base are manning their keyboards, ready to take their reader on another journey of expansive lore.
Images via Bethesda, CD Projekt Red & Respawn Entertainment