Culture General


This topic has been on the back of my brain for a little bit for two reasons. The first, I’m seeing it show up in Kickstarter and the other reason is Season 8 of Game of Thrones.

The idea of this is that as a fan or a consumer, we are demanding, creating petitions, threatening, and generally behaving like five year old’s that things are done the way that we want. And it isn’t just with the examples I gave, but those are a few that have been thinking about. It raises a few questions, what do we as fans of something “deserve” and what should be changed for us?

Let’s start by talking about Game of Thrones. There are a lot of complaints about Season 8 of Game of Thrones. I stopped watching much earlier than that, but I know people who watched through it and who didn’t like the end, because it felt rushed and because it didn’t go like they expected. Now, I think that there are valid complaints about how the last season went, and the show runners being given as much time as they wanted, but then deciding to rush the ending is a bad look. And it’s going to taint the fact that they are doing the next Star Wars trilogy after this one wraps up. Not like Star Wars fans have generally been that forgiving anyways.

I think what we need to unpack more is the complaints where fans are complaining because they didn’t want something to happen. Game of Thrones has built it’s brand on having slow seasons and then shocking and expected moments happen. With the last season, from what I can tell, again getting this information from people who are watching the show, the biggest complaint is people knew how they wanted the show to end, and when the last season, not even the last episode, the last season, went in different directions, they disliked that. I have issues with this complaint though, for several reasons. The first, it goes against the nature of the show. Game of Thrones isn’t supposed to be predictable, and when the complaints are that the popular fan series aren’t accurate, that should be fairly obvious. But more so, why is there this idea that we deserve a show go the way we want it. While it might be a minority, there are going to be people who liked Season 8 of Game of Thrones. So if it had gone a different way, they would have the issue. The job of the show runners and creators of a book, movie, tv show, play, comic book, etc. isn’t to please everyone. It’s to create the best thing that they can, now you could argue with Game of Thrones, maybe they didn’t do that by rushing the end, but this isn’t just a Game of Thrones problem.

Image Source: Hypable

This even shows up in the biggest movie franchise of all time, Marvel. When it was announced that we were getting a female super hero stand alone movie, I thought it was awesome. Captain Marvel was an interesting character that brought in more cosmic stuff to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, there was a large backlash over not getting the Black Widow movie that the “fans” had wanted. Now, I don’t want to belittle the idea that these people are fans, but threatening to boycott something or complaining loudly on Twitter and other social media because you don’t get what you wanted, I do question the fanhood some. Unfortunately, this backlash has hurt Captain Marvel in the long run. That wasn’t the only thing that Marvel has caught flack for and had people get mad about and demand changes from. I want to get into Kickstarter though, but you can go back and read about character arcs in the first three Phases of Marvel that I did when Endgame came out.

In Kickstarter, it’s interesting. There are two types of demands that you see on Kickstarter and the threat is pretty obvious, someone will demand a refund or threaten to pull funding on an active project. But the two types of demands are game play changes or extra things changes. And these go throughout the campaign, but also after the campaign and probably worse after the campaign. Both of these are extremely headscratching to me for one reason. Kickstarter is a platform for people to raise funds to do a project with the hope that it gets completed, not a pre-order system. So, as someone who pledges money on Kickstarter, I’m an investor, because I have faith in your project, if I get something back, that’s an added bonus.

Image Source: Cryptozoic

Let’s assume that isn’t the case, even though that’s what Kickstarter is, and talk about the other things. Game play changes for me is the bigger of the two things. As someone who loves board games and who has dabbled in working on my own game, I don’t think I know enough about a game after having read through a vague idea of the game to tell you that you need to add in something to the game. Sometimes the people who are making a game have something obvious that needs to be fixed, maybe remove rolling to move, but don’t put money into a project because you like 80% of a project and then demand that the last 20% change for you specifically. If you need that change or don’t think that they are playtesting it fully to not make that change, you should assume that means larger issues with the project and pass on it. Or assume that if and when they do playtest it, that it will be caught or fixed if it needs to be. If I or you were a great game designer, we’d have games of our own on kickstarter.

Or, demanding extras, that’s it’s own ball of wax. This generally comes in later in the process when the project is running a bit behind schedule. I realize that it’s horrible that you won’t be getting that one out of fifteen projects you’ve backed and are waiting on right now, won’t be showing up on time. But does that mean that they have to treat you specially and give you more because it’s running late? For example, I’m in a project for a Shadowrun game, I have my copy of the game, but the fulfillment center screwed up massively and sent out extra copies of the games and games to the wrong address. Both of these are an issue, and while I think that there are probably things that could have been done better in handling the snafu, there are people flying off the handle about it. And they aren’t fine with the fact that the Shadowrun game that they got already has extra stuff as a surprise, they are demanding extra and different fixes to make them happy. Basically, you’re complaining about helping people get the copy of the game that you were complaining about before because it was delayed. Again, not a perfect example, because I think there is another fix that could help, but there would still be people complaining that they’re being asked to do something, even though they got more after complaining, because they couldn’t read information correctly when it was clearly laid out.

So, where does this demanding and threatening culture come from? I think it can be placed on several things. One, there’s this idea that something that is meaningful or interesting for you in some way belongs to you. Even on Kickstarter, I have a copy of the game so yes that belongs to me, but the idea and concept of the game were designed by someone else, and while at some point in time as a designer/creator things aren’t yours anymore, when it’s being created it still if yours. You get to put your stamp on it, but there’s too much of a mindset now that something being put out, because it’s meaningful or important to you, needs to be yours and go like you want it. Next, I think it can come out of jealousy. And I don’t know that is something people really consciously think about. I think, and at times I notice myself doing this, complaining about something that someone else is creating while wishing I had created it myself. Tied into that is the last piece, and that’s the delusion that you can do it better yourself. I am using that word intentionally, it is probably a delusion that you’d handle it better yourself. Now, sure, there are some people in Hollywood who probably hated Season 8 of Game of Thrones that would have done it better, but I’m talking about you and me, average people in the world. It’s a delusion that we could have done it better. I like to think that I would handle the Kickstarter situation that is going on with the Shadowrun game better, but the actual answer is that I’d be panicking and probably be radio silent right now, at least we’re getting regular updates.

Now, there’s a lot to parse through there. And I won’t lie, this article is very judging, and I’m not claiming that I’m above it. There have been plenty of things where I went – “You did what?” – or – “You better not kill of that character.” But, I wanted to write this to end on what we can do as a culture to move on from demanding and threatening and to allow creative things to continue to grow instead of scaring people out of the creative fields who have stories and ideas to share with the world that might be simple popcorn fun, but also might be important to making the world a better place.

There are a few things that we can do to try and make a difference. The first is to understand that the active creative work of someone can be picked apart for what’s bad, but also spend time trying to find what you like in the work as well. It’s easy, as the Twitter and online herd hurdles headlong into complaining to be swept up in it. Instead, take a moment to stop and think about what you liked about something before you join the echo chamber of complaints. You might find that there are good things to be taken from the story, from the moment, from the idea that has more depth than it would look like on a cursory glance. Next, encourage people to take risks and compliment people on taking risks. Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to love everything that is done, and maybe it isn’t your cup of tea, but recognize when people take risks and encourage them to do so. It’s easy to tell someone that a risk was bad and that they shouldn’t have done it, again, probably on social media, but instead appreciate the risk for what it was. Encourage people to take those risks and challenge them to pull off their next risk even better than they did before, realizing that it might never be for you, but it might be so important for someone else. And, finally, spend time encouraging those who are being run down by the herd. This ties into the first two, but there’s a mindset that you need to step in front of the herd and try and stop it, all that happens is that you get trampled and you feel like you wasted time trying to help. Instead, turn around and look at the person who is about to be trampled and engage in them in positivity and encouragement. Again, I don’t mean that you have to love and tell them that what they are doing is perfect, I mean that you let them know what you like and encourage them to continue to reach for the stars. Through a herd of negative, you have a chance to stand out and be a shining like for them to latch onto. And you might be someone who gives them confidence to continue.

What are some things that people have demanded be changed that you really like? Who are some creators that you’ve seen take risks that you think are interesting or important and that you want to encourage. Tweet at them, let them know somehow, but also leave a comment below so that we can learn about these interesting, boundary pushing people as well.

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