Thoughts on Fan-Created Works

Fans have been inspired for pretty much as long as we’ve existed.  Plato was such a fan of Socrates, irrespective of whether or not they agreed, that when Plato wrote The Symposium Socrates was given a part, the character something like a parody of the man.  Today, fans create artwork of their inspirations, which itself is a testament to said inspirations—but a few of us go beyond the bare sketches and simple stories.  A few of us take our inspiration and create something grand.

The first major fan-created work I came across isn’t technically related to video games, but it’s just plain good, so I hope the digression from theme is understandable.  It also doesn’t seem to have an official name of its own; fans of this fan-work have dubbed it Break Dancing Soundwave.  The creators did all of this themselves—they composed the music, drew and animated the three-dimensional models, all of it.  This was also before YouTube became so popular, so its fame was earned solely through word-of-mouth, and that fame was deserved.

Another fan-created work much deserving of its praise is the Dead Fantasy series, created by Monty Oum. Like its spiritual predecessor, Haloid (also a very great work), models were created and animated by him; he created everything from the models to the smallest visual effects.  It’s an insanely complex and complicated process, one that wouldn’t have been possible were he not dedicated to his craft.  Dead Fantasy and Haloid are simply great love-letters to the franchises that inspired him.

Another piece of digital art that shows the creator’s talent and passion both is this Flash file.  Based on the ending song to the first Portal game, Scott Ramsoomair, the artist behind V.G. Cats, put in a lot of effort to pay homage to a video game he adored.

Not every fan-created work has to be complex to be a great homage to something they enjoy.  Take this a capella cover of “Want you Gone”, the ending song to Portal 2.  There’s just as much effort and enjoyment put into this work—one woman sings all of the vocals, composes the scores—all of it.  Depending on how one looks at it, it might be argued that such a thing isn’t as lengthy or complicated a process as, say, Haloid, but even if one does make that argument they’d have to admit there’s no less genuine enjoyment being poured into the creation.

That’s the sort of fan I think deserves more attention—sure, all of us gamers love our games.  That’s why we’re gamers in the first place.  But some of us are able to take that passion and turn around and create something interesting, different, something even perhaps new.  All fans deserve some attention; if nothing else, the fact that we throw money at game developers means they’re able to make a business out of what they enjoy doing.

However, some of us go beyond that, which I truly think is fantastic.  Gamers come together applauding and complimenting genuinely well-done works, and as I’ve said plenty of times anything that brings gamers together is a good thing.  This also shows just how games can truly be more than just ways to kill time.  They can be just as memorable and inspirational as any novel or film.  There’s a reason why fans cosplay—that is to say, dress up in costumes based on fictional characters from whatever media—as much as they do.

Even making a Let’s Play series is an homage of sorts; while many Let’s Players take requests, most actual series are ones the Let’s Player simply wanted to do.  They enjoyed the game so much, they wanted to share it.  also, while some Let’s Players make screen shot-based Let’s Plays, many who make Let’s Plays for the more recent games make videos, which isn’t terribly easy.  It’s not rocket surgery, either, admittedly, but it’s still a bit of trouble to go through “just” to make a video-based Let’s Play, but it’s worth it, too.

More than just inspire us, games can bring gamers together—whether by creating new or different works based on them,  making a Let’s Play based on them, or whatever else.  We come together to discuss the works, to ask questions—we come together.  Bringing gamers together helps us celebrate the hobby we all share.  No matter what specific games we like, no matter whether we’re a “hardcore” gamer or a “casual” gamer, we can celebrate the fact that we are gamers, and fan-created works help us do just that.


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