What does it mean to be a fan of a series?

Posted by TechnoSyndrome (895 posts) -

With Resident Evil 6 completely polarizing fans of the series, it's gotten me thinking about what exactly it means to be a fan of a game franchise. Ostensibly one would be drawn in by things like the mechanics, story and characters, but these are all the result of the staff working on the game, not the franchise itself. Resident Evil didn't spontaneously conceive itself and then print itself onto PS1 discs, it was the product of Shinji Mikami and his staff at Capcom who crafted the game mechanics, characters, story, atmosphere, visuals, sound and every other aspect of that game that so many people fell in love with.

With any franchise people are added or removed from the team that works on it for various reasons until eventually you don't have any of the people who helped create the franchise in the first place, and at that point what exactly is it that you're a fan of? How many of the people that worked on the original Resident Evil for the PS1 are actually still around at Capcom working on Resident Evil games? Is there anyone who links the staffs of Resident Evils 1 and 6, or even just 4 and 6 together? If not, then what is anyone's stake in that game? At that point what is the difference between Resident Evil 6 and any other shooter on the market? Sure, it has the name, and it has the characters that I know, and it has some mechanical similarities to the previous installments, but what do I care about the continuing adventures of Leon S. Kennedy or Chris Redfield when the people behind the scenes that made those previous adventures so great, be it because of the gameplay or because of the story, are no longer there?

I'm not saying that you should immediately stop caring about a game or a franchise the second it changes hands creatively, but why should someone eagerly anticipate a game with no creative links to the original games they loved so much based on name alone? Why should they be so let down when it fails to deliver when there's no actual reason to expect it to, or vehemently defend it from the detractors before they've even played it themselves? Why should someone say they're a fan of a franchise, when there's nothing linking it all together except a name? I was hoping putting this blog together would help me sort everything out, but I still can't answer that question.

#1 Posted by TechnoSyndrome (895 posts) -

With Resident Evil 6 completely polarizing fans of the series, it's gotten me thinking about what exactly it means to be a fan of a game franchise. Ostensibly one would be drawn in by things like the mechanics, story and characters, but these are all the result of the staff working on the game, not the franchise itself. Resident Evil didn't spontaneously conceive itself and then print itself onto PS1 discs, it was the product of Shinji Mikami and his staff at Capcom who crafted the game mechanics, characters, story, atmosphere, visuals, sound and every other aspect of that game that so many people fell in love with.

With any franchise people are added or removed from the team that works on it for various reasons until eventually you don't have any of the people who helped create the franchise in the first place, and at that point what exactly is it that you're a fan of? How many of the people that worked on the original Resident Evil for the PS1 are actually still around at Capcom working on Resident Evil games? Is there anyone who links the staffs of Resident Evils 1 and 6, or even just 4 and 6 together? If not, then what is anyone's stake in that game? At that point what is the difference between Resident Evil 6 and any other shooter on the market? Sure, it has the name, and it has the characters that I know, and it has some mechanical similarities to the previous installments, but what do I care about the continuing adventures of Leon S. Kennedy or Chris Redfield when the people behind the scenes that made those previous adventures so great, be it because of the gameplay or because of the story, are no longer there?

I'm not saying that you should immediately stop caring about a game or a franchise the second it changes hands creatively, but why should someone eagerly anticipate a game with no creative links to the original games they loved so much based on name alone? Why should they be so let down when it fails to deliver when there's no actual reason to expect it to, or vehemently defend it from the detractors before they've even played it themselves? Why should someone say they're a fan of a franchise, when there's nothing linking it all together except a name? I was hoping putting this blog together would help me sort everything out, but I still can't answer that question.

#2 Posted by razkazz (169 posts) -

When continuing a series, even if it's a different creative team behind the wheel, the goal should be to carry on the series' legacy and give fans more of what got them to devote their time and money to it in the first place. Brand recognition doesn't just happen arbitrarily, the best sequels offer a similar feeling experience to the works they follow while throwing new twists and turns at you; and it's been proven throughout the history of entertainment that it's possible for new creative minds to churn out a sequel or remake that does justice to the original creator's vision or even improves upon it. Mikami's last Resident Evil game was RE4 and even though RE5 was created without him, the core mechanics felt just about identical. So, I don't see any reason why people shouldn't have expected RE6 to be of similar quality.

#3 Posted by CornBREDX (5300 posts) -

A fan is someone fanatical about something. 
 
These days, like most words, its been warped. It now includes anyone who will pay money for it on an (to varying degrees) ongoing basis. Most times, when developers say they listened to fans they mean the loud minority on the internet.  
These could definitely be considered the most fanatical of the bunch.  
The best way to tell is because they will hate everything about the game and yet keep buying it. Others in this group will tell themselves and everyone else it's amazing because they bought it and like it so it must be, right? 
The wiley fan can also often be seen sending reviewers death threats when they give the game they liked a score below what they think it deserves. 
 
They are a very territorial bunch and will likely debate you quite easily. All you need to do is say something they disagree with and shockingly they will take it as a personal insult. You may need popcorn. 
 
Seriously, though. Fuck fans. Fans of everything if not now will at some point be a pack of ravenous assholes who think they know what's best when all they really want to do is complain.

#4 Posted by TechnoSyndrome (895 posts) -

@razkazz: I understand looking forward to the continuation of a series, even if none of the original staff are involved. I didn't write this blog post entirely from an outsider's perspective, I myself get super excited when a new Zelda game gets announced even though I know barely any of the people who designed the Zelda games I hold dearest will have any involvement in it. I'm questioning why one would choose to be a fan, not just someone who enjoys the games. There's a big difference between looking forward Resident Evil 6 because you enjoyed the previous games and looking forward to Resident Evil 6 because it's one of your favorite series. And even when things do work out on a sequel with different creators at the helm it never feels exactly the same as what it's continuing. Resident Evil 5 feels very different than 4, so what is it at that point that links them all together to make someone a fan of the series, rather than just a fan of certain games in the series?

#5 Posted by razkazz (169 posts) -
@Taku128: I don't know that it's that clear of a distinction or a conscious choice. It's as simple as people liking something and wanting more of it. And since we've established that new creative teams are capable of delivering sequels that live up to their predecessors, that shouldn't be a factor. Most people consider RE4 to be one of the best in the series and from what I saw before the game's release Capcom wanted people to know it was going back to the darker style for RE6. So people were expecting some kind of a return to form, but instead it went in a completely different direction and more importantly ended up not being as technically solid of a product. I don't really understand where this idea that people should've expected RE6 to be entirely different than the other games in the series is coming from. History shows that having new people work on a series doesn't mean they can't recapture the magic, or at least release something that functions similarly; if anything it's rare that a sequel isn't a complete rehash. What would've been odd is if everyone assumed RE6 would play very differently and not control as well just because different people worked on it.
#6 Posted by JasonR86 (9710 posts) -

Unreasonable.

#7 Posted by SecondPersonShooter (618 posts) -

Just apply that same logic to books.

Tolkein has been dead for a while. Lord of the Rings is still has a gigantic fanbase, a lot of which haven't even read the books.

Great characters and stories live on regardless of the creators moving on from them

#8 Posted by TechnoSyndrome (895 posts) -

@SecondPersonShooter said:

Just apply that same logic to books.

Tolkein has been dead for a while. Lord of the Rings is still has a gigantic fanbase, a lot of which haven't even read the books.

Great characters and stories live on regardless of the creators moving on from them

I'm admittedly not very familiar with Lord of the Rings, but are they still making new stories with those characters? I thought people just endlessly adapt Tolkein's stories into different mediums, which is different.

#9 Edited by SecondPersonShooter (618 posts) -

@Taku128 said:

@SecondPersonShooter said:

Just apply that same logic to books.

Tolkein has been dead for a while. Lord of the Rings is still has a gigantic fanbase, a lot of which haven't even read the books.

Great characters and stories live on regardless of the creators moving on from them

I'm admittedly not very familiar with Lord of the Rings, but are they still making new stories with those characters? I thought people just endlessly adapt Tolkein's stories into different mediums, which is different.

They certainly are, we have the LotR videogames with completely new plotlines.

Also, on that note, we have the entire idea of "Fanfiction", which is just people taking characters they've embraced from other authors or teams and then writing their own story using those concepts.

And people actually read these stories, that are just written by fans.

I think a lot of the part of fandom is that if a large group of people latch onto something that they all unanimously enjoy, it creates a community, and as long as those characters exist, that sense of community still exists to.

I mean, look at the bronies, they went and started an entire Dalai Llama-esque religion over a kids show.

#10 Posted by ViciousReiven (821 posts) -

I have never seen a fandom of something that didn't have the loudest worst badly opinionated badly informed people yelling about anything and everything about the series they claim to love.

#11 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2304 posts) -

How to you know if you're a fan of anything. Do you like *blank*? If Yes than you are a fan.

#12 Posted by Devil240Z (3368 posts) -

Its like this IMO, Either make a new game or make a game that caters to existing fans.

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