Being a fan can mean many different things to many different people.

It may mean a person likes to collect memorabilia for a favorite sports team. It may mean a group like to wear costumes and reenact an important event. It may mean individuals compete with one another to test their knowledge in trivia contests.

It may mean talking, acting, making, writing, reading, speaking, wearing, collecting, seeing, hearing, knowing, believing, arguing, communing, buying, selling, traveling, identifying, and so on and so forth.

At the base of all of these activities that people do to demonstrate to others that they are a fan — at the foundation of even this idea of “the fan” as a derivative of “the fanatic” — grounding this idea of being a fan as being about love and passion and sometimes obsession — is a simple act that people do that lets them know to themselves and others that they are a fan of something.

This basic foundation of fandom is the idea that a person willingly repeatedly returns to the object of their affection.

When we get down to this as a basic characteristic of what it means to be a fan, then we are able to see how people can be a fan to a lot of different things in their lives. You can repeatedly return to your favorite baseball field to support your team because you are a fan. You can have an appointment view for the latest episodes of Scandal because you are a fan. You can repeatedly return to the same hot dog joint because you are a fan. You can show up every Sunday at church because you are a fan. All within the same person, we can be a fan of many things, beyond just pop culture, entertainment, or leisure activities. As long as the action is willingly directed towards something that matters to us at that time in our lives, then we are a fan of that some thing.

We can also start to think about how being a fan changes across the span of an individual’s life. If the constitutive nature of being a fan is this willingness to repeatedly return to and engage with something that matters to the person, then those objects of affection will most likely vary across a person’s life as what matters to them changes. A child may be a fan of My Little Pony and then become a fan of Mortal Kombat as a teenager. An person may be a fan of a hot dog joint earlier in life, but a fan of a local juice joint later when health concerns dictate a chance in life. A person may start out a football fan only to become a football fan when they move from the United States to the United Kingdom.

By understanding being a fan as being willing to repeatedly return to an object of affection, we can then explore all of the fandoms of a person’s life to understand what those fandoms have meant to the person over the course of the person’s life. We can also begin to see the similarities between areas of life that have been traditionally distanced from one another, usually due to social and cultural perceptions of what are trivial and serious matters. Thus, this foundational consideration of defining fandom could allow for the comparison between pop cultural fandoms and religious or political fandoms.

This understanding could also help us see that the fractures causing problems among fans are most likely due to people accentuating the small differences that separate fandoms rather than focusing on the similarities that bring people together as fans.

For example, if we consider that being a fan fundamentally relies on this willingness to repeatedly return to some object of affection, then any constructed hierarchy dictating the “appropriate” or “superior” fan is built more on a need to perpetuate the differences for self-identity purposes. People who feel the need to police the borders of their fandom through rhetoric like “appropriate” or “superior” are most likely doing so because they feel some threat to their identity, part of which is built on a particular notion of what a fan is (i.e. a fan is writing fanfic, a fan is a shipper, a fan is a collector, a fan is a gamer, etc). However, such focus on particular identities as defining what is a fan only serves to segment fans into communities that may be fostering an insularity that is damaging to the fandom as a whole.

Rather than focus on these identities based on specific activities that result from being a fan, we should be encouraging fans to unite based on the fundamental activity that constitutes being a fan. And, in my opinion, that fundamental activity is the willingness to repeatedly return to some object of affection. When we focus on that constitutive activity, then we embrace the wide array of people who are fans, rather than segment people into insular communities based on what they do as fans.

Several years back, when I first thought of this idea, I developed an interview protocol to investigate the various types of fandoms that could exist for a person with this constitutive activity as the basis of the fandom. Back then, I wanted to compare being a fan of a media thing to being a fan of a location and an activity or hobby — to consider how the things that have mattered the most to us did just that. Today I would expand upon this idea, to ascertain fandoms in a various areas of a person’s life, but perhaps this was a worthwhile place to start.

What I present below is the interview that I conducted on a friend. I present it de-identified so that no information my friend gave could be used for identification purposes. The interview utilizes Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making Methodology to explore how the person makes sense of these fandoms in their lives. I also present it as was done, as the pilot testing of an approach to investigating this constitutive activity of being a fan, with the hope that more can be done on this topic.

NOTE: anything in italics represents my questions and anything in brackets represents my notes.


Well, I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember, so the first time I picked up a controller was when I was about 4 years old.

So video games?

Yeah. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was probably the most liberating experience I’ve ever had in my life, to be able to, to have something in my hands and control, to manipulate something else. And as time past that feeling, I don’t want to say it changes, per se, but it doesn’t really go away, but it manifests itself differently. I mean, back then I was bells and whistles, the shiny lights, but now that I’m at 20 it’s much different, it becomes more of everything integrating into one experience instead of just pretty pictures.

I’m an anime fan, so I got back into that in the 8th grade, so probably 12, 13. And at that age it was common for me to think that two things were interconnected because I didn’t know any better back then that because I liked these kinds of games I had to like these kinds of shows, and even though I know now that that’s not true, this idea has affected me to the point where I still think of them as being synonymous.

[Video games chosen as most important] Video games, because that really defines who I am as a person, and going back now it really provides me a road mark for my life.


Well back when I was in middle school, I used to make frequent trips to the library. My house was very hectic, and this was my place where I could get away from it, to have some quiet time to myself. And even now that doesn’t change, but, I mean, I usually go maybe once or twice a week now, as opposed to as necessary. Probably about 13.

Well, there’s a park that I used to go to, I don’t go there anymore because I don’t have access to it at this moment in time, but it’s the same kind of principle that applied. And that was maybe when I was 7, up to maybe about 12, 13 because we moved about that time.

[Park chosen as most important] I’d say the park, because that’s what I remember earliest, and a lot of things happened back then, and it was just something you could go back to.


Well, I’m a writer, and that’s along the lines of the wanting to get away, but in that same vein it’s more of wanting to express something. It’s really odd when you think about it, but it makes so much sense. And as that — my writing has changed a lot since then. Back when I first started out I just wrote the simple stuff, short stories, fan fiction, all that. And now I’m building up to wanting to actually write a book and do these projects and I’d say that started maybe the beginning of high school, 14.

Well, I play basketball, and the same principle, just the enjoyment, plain and simple. And I started that maybe at 11, and I still play now just not professionally.

[Writing chosen as most important]


WHAT AGE: So the first time I picked up a controller was when I was about 4 years old.

HOW LONG: Still plays.

WHAT LED TO: I mean, I was young back then, it was just childish kind of inquisition or intuition. I’m sorry, there was a word I was looking for there and just missed it. But it was just the ability, to want to be [unclear] in that way.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Oh of course, of course. I didn’t know what they were back then. I just made the connection, hit a button, something happens, hit a button, something happens. And over time I had to learn that for myself and it’s just one of those things that you pick up over time.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: On occasion, yes, I’ll ask myself why did I buy this, what do I see in it? Do I want to keep playing it? Do I want to talk about it with other people? The same questions come up, it’s just in a different format, you know?


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Pretty pictures. But like I said, I was young then, and I didn’t know any better. I only assume that it’s natural for somebody at that age to assume those kinds of things. Did this thought about it having pretty pictures help you in any way? I think so. Back when I was little I didn’t have a lot of friends, I lived in a pretty remote part of town and there weren’t a lot of kids there and I was kind of a loner, so it’s what ever gets you by.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Well, I’ve met other people who share that same interest, and I viewed them, and it makes me reflect inwardly on my own kinds of experiences, and what I see is that not everybody is me, that’s how I can put it in so many words. Everybody has different tastes and it’s generated this kind of defense for me that whenever, I can’t stand to see somebody getting picked on for their own tastes, and it’s something that sadly happens a lot. I guess through that evolution I’ve come to find that. And now, that you say you can see more about not everyone being like you, how does this thought help? It’s mind-opening. I see people like my father. My father, he’s pretty, he’s a traditionalist, he had those same kind of ideas that were around in the 60’s about that whole time period, and things have changed since then, people have broader minds, and I’d like to think that I’m one of those people. Of course, I’m not perfect, nobody is, but I’d like to think that I’m doing my best to understand other people before myself.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Besides just the typical joy of seeing something happen before your eyes, it’s – I guess back then it was just more about the graphical value, the gratification, before anything. Do you think this enjoyment of the graphical helped you in any way? I think it has, even in regular life, I start to appreciate things artistically. Because back when I was little I didn’t know any better for one, and then but as you grow up that carries with you, and it gets to the point where you think, you look at something as more than, if you look at a painting you look at it as more than just a painting. You see things and you ask questions, and I guess that whole idea kinda helps.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Well my taste in games has changed since then, so it’s only natural that my ideas on them would change as well. It’s come to a point where story-wise, I’d seen it all before, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. And I’m sure you can relate to this, after you’ve seen so many things of a certain genre you start to understand what is going to happen. Once you get that notion it changes you personally, because it’s that whole idea that something that used to be exciting has become routine.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well, every kid wants to be something great, an astronaut, a fireman, you know, superhero, and I was no different. And playing these games just perpetuated that idea that I wanted to be something extraordinary because I see these people beating up and running around and this that and the other thing, it’s only nature that children want to emulate that kind of thing. Even now I see it, not even with just me, with other kids. My little brother, he’s the same way. I see myself in him back then. So it’s very refreshing. How do you see this desire to be something extraordinary as helping you back then? It’s just, it’s something you aspire for. It’s not exactly attainable. Someone once said that when humans lose their ability to dream they lose their ability to live. And I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. And it’s that same kind of idea manifesting itself that if you don’t have something to shoot for, where are you going to be now.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Now it seems, it’s more of trying to validate myself as a person in that idea that if I’m accomplishing things, I know it sounds pathetic, but it’s that idea that even if you are accomplishing things on a small scale that you are still accomplishing things. They don’t have to affect other people, just a personal achievement, say I want to get through this game by such and such time, and then following through with that that dedication is something that helps you validate what you are doing. What leads you to say, when you told me, that it sounds pathetic? Well, I understand that there are social, social and moral ramifications about gamers as a whole that, you know, there are billions of stereotypes out there and I’ve heard every one of them. And you start to believe that after awhile, but, you know, some of it might be true because in every stereotype there’s at least a salt of truth. And I’ve been called, even growing up through school, I’ve been called plenty of names, and I’ve heard it all before, so I’m inclined to agree with it.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well, that’s a hard one. Well, there’s a very strict social hierarchy. And I tend to believe that people who pursue more, what’s the word I’m looking for, eccentric kind of hobbies that they see these social structures as something that they are not. And I only say that because that’s how I myself look at it. I mean, you’ve been in high school, you know how it works. You’ve got the kids who play sports, you got the rich kids, all these different castes, and when you have something like that that helps you look outside of the ordinary, you don’t see it in such black and white terms. You try to see everybody for being equal. Was this how you were seeing it back then, or is this currently how you are seeing power? Well back then when I started out I didn’t have any idea about, but as I progressed, that’s how it began to manifest itself. And how do you think, do you think being able to see power structures in this way helps you in any way? I think that it does, because we don’t live, we don’t live in the Dark Ages any more. We don’t need to have those kinds of, we don’t need to have a hierarchy of people up here and then people up here and people down here. It’s just harmful, it’s socially damaging, and that’s what, that’s the cause of a lot of the negativity in the world. Do you think that seeing power issues in this way hurt or hindered you in any way?Of course it does. Every blessing is a curse, and every curse is a blessing. At that same time, it’s something that you have to be careful to keep in check because you got the media pointing the finger at these people for being would be snipers or terrorists, and in that circle what people aren’t understanding, it’s logically flawed, that that whole idea has spread like wildfire, that gamers are terrorists. And I’ve seen it first hand. To me, the moral here is to not get a big head about it because everybody is equal and you can’t let it affect you to that point.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: [see above]


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well, my family was going through a lot of problems then, and I guess that’s where that whole idea started is that I just wanted to sit down and forget about it. What better way.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: It’s more of the same. My family has changed so radically in the last 16 years that you wouldn’t think that it would change that – you would think that it would change that, but it doesn’t. And I mean even now, my dad’s pushing 50, and he’s getting into fights with my sister, she’s 16, and what’s sad is that, in my opinion he’s not doing what he should to stop these things from happening. And you know I want to forget about it, so I just, I go off in my own world. And how does having video games to help you forget about them deal with them? Well, sometimes ignorance is the best policy. Not all the time, but there are times when you cannot affect what’s going on around you, and the only logical, the only thing that logically follows is to remove yourself from that situation until it blows over. And I guess that’s pretty much the big thing.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well yeah, of course, it turned me into a loner. So like I said, for everything that’s good about it there’s something bad that offsets it.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: And even now, I’m going to segue into that, even now it’s the same thing. I don’t particularly like talking to people, I guess I’ve kinda grown, grown kind of introverted, but this is the path that I’ve chose to take in life and this is what I have to bear for it and I’m willing to do that because it’s my own fault and nobody else’s. Do you see this being introverted as helping in anyway? Well yeah, like I said, I see everything up the middle. Everything good, everything bad. And sometimes I have to look inside for answers and that helps me, because thinking about myself more so than, in those cases, I don’t want to say completely because that’s not true, but when there is an answer I need to find and only I know the answer I can’t go asking other people for it, and I guess that’s something I particularly pride myself on that I am able to do that because not everybody is.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well, to know what I know now about my life would probably help me decide things different. I mean, they always say hindsight is 20/20, so…
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: I’d want to be a kid again. Well, to have that same kind of innocence for when I first started playing, because after you do something for so long you don’t feel the same way about it anymore. And that feeling, it’s probably one of the greatest things in the world, to do something for the first time, and sadly that’s what makes it so great is that you can only do it once.


WHAT AGE: And that was maybe when I was 7…

HOW LONG: …up to maybe about 12, 13 because we moved about that time.

WHAT LED TO: I mean, I was young, after about 7, I think, yeah, about 7 years old we moved out of our old house into a more populated area and there’s a park right down the street. So to just go out and play, that would be where I’d go because it’s a safe place, it’s fun, there are other people there, and it’s just the typical kind of, you know… And you don’t go to it anymore? No, I stopped living near it. So that’s what stopped you engaging with it? Yeah.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well I mean I wasn’t sure what it was. I was yea-high, so, I mean, you have to, as a child you have to wonder about those kinds of things and you have to ask these questions. And the people that have the answers usually think you are too childish to know them, so…
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Well, we were moving out, so that was a question. Why do I have to leave here? What did I do wrong? You know, it’s that, those same kinds of things that you have growing up. I think as a child, whenever something happens that radically changes your life, the first thing you want to ask is, what did I do? Because that’s how I was raised, you know? And looking back on it now, during that whole time period when you were going to the park, are there any additional question you have about that time period? You know, I really don’t go back to it that often, but I was talking about this with a friend of mine the other day, and, because we went down there, it’s on the other side of town and we had to drive, I was like, what I said to him was I used to play in this place when I was a little kid, and he was like oh yeah, really? I was like, but you know, why did it turn into this? Because it’s radically changed from the last time I saw it. That neighborhood has become really, it’s really downgraded itself. I don’t want to say anything nasty, but you get the idea.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Yes, I mean, I finally found out that this was a place I wanted to go to. It was a place where I felt safe and enjoyed myself. That same idea follows that is this really a safe place? And how did thinking that this might be safe place help you at that time? You know, as a kid, I didn’t really have a lot of – I mean, I got into it a lot with people because I’m sure you can figure this out, I have a big mouth and I run it like a sailor. And back then it got me into a lot of trouble because I didn’t, for one I didn’t know any better. So after school my mom would be waiting for me there and I thought of that as a safe place because not only is this a place that I know but my authority figure is here to protect me. Of course, I mean, it wasn’t the green light to go off and start shooting my mouth to anyone I wanted to, but you know…
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: You know, I can’t remember.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Yeah, I mean as a kid it’s something that it’s just that connection you make between being a kid and going out and playing. It’s what I did and it’s what I enjoyed.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Of course I was sad to see it go. That’s the place I pretty much lived in for six years and now it’s going. Did this feeling sad at this point in time hurt you in any way? Of course, I remember, I actually remember this, my grades took a death spiral like right after we moved because I was still going to that school for the rest of the year and my teacher actually sat down with me, my language arts teacher. And she said is there something going on in your life because your grades just took a nosedive. So I told her, and I guess in that sense it’s something bad but it’s also something good. Because that’s actually how I started building up my rapport with her. And I actually, I keep in contact with her from time to time now.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well like I said, up until then I was pretty much a shut in. While that stuck with me, I felt I could actually talk to people and I did occasionally, and I guess that’s how it helped.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Oh yeah, when you lose something that you see as a staple in your life, that idea that comes with it is that it is something that is going to deeply affect you, whether it be in whatever way.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Not really. I never really equated that with going to the park and playing on the slide.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well I guess just the idea of being around with other kids of my age, playing, I guess that helps as a medium for starting an elementary school life, because at that point I was, when we first moved in, I was in second grade I think, and that sort of sparked who I am now, kind of started me down that trail.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Well I had a friend who I talked to before I left and he was sad to see me go, and I guess that idea that somebody cares about you leaving is something that really helps, really helps drive you to do better things.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well my previous idea about being a shut-in. While it was, I mean, it was kind of down the middle. At times it was easy to connect with other people, and at times it was really hard and I guess that’s where that stems from.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Besides the obvious idea of leaving it forever. And my mom at that point, when we moved out, my mom was, she was, oh God what was it, she was in the hospital for something I can’t remember what, and when she got back, it was a few days before we made that move, she was really, really angry. And I tend to equate those things together because back then it was, I didn’t know any better. In what way did maybe equating those things hurt you at that time? Well, it lead to that idea of why me, what did I do wrong?


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well I guess if I didn’t have that idea of being so shy, so keeping to myself, I guess that would probably help me.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Not having to go. How would not having to go have helped you? I don’t know. I would say that it would give me a place to go for a couple more years. And how would having a place to go help you? I would have imagined that by that time I would be grown-up enough to understand why this is happening, that it’s not my fault.


WHAT AGE: I’d say that started maybe the beginning of high school, 14.

HOW LONG: Still writes

WHAT LED TO: Well, it’s kind of funny. Back, right before middle school, I – not before middle school, before high school – is when I started getting into anime, and back then the cool thing to do was to make up your own stories, to develop your own, and back then I just, I didn’t even have an impetus for it, I just put pen to paper and started writing. And I guess that’s how it started.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well, of course, I mean, I was a high school freshman back then, I didn’t know, I’m not Hemingway, I didn’t know how the process works. And even now I don’t, I’m not 100 percent sure of how it works. I still have this lingering suspicion that there is some secret that everybody knows but me to good writing and I don’t have it. Were there any other questions back then when you first started writing? Well, I had more, you know, but I had a nice teacher that would help me out with that, him and I got along pretty well. And I wanted to know how the process worked because it’s really something, it’s not even something that’s set in stone, it’s something you create, and that probably one of the most delicate things in this world.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Yes, what’s the damn secret! I want to know. Tell me. But, I mean, how can I better myself? I mean, what do I want to write about next? Who should I talk to? It’s all those things that a writer asks himself.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well for a while I thought I was the best writer in the world. But that passed pretty quick. I mean, it really lead me to believe that maybe writing is something I want to do later down the road. And it’s a very lucrative kind of thing to be able to create something with your hands and your mind and have other people enjoy that thing. How did this realization that it might be something you wanted to do help you? It made me decide that I want to go to college for this. Back in high school I was every which way. I couldn’t decide. First I was going to be computer programming, then I wanted to do meteorology. Then I wanted to do computer science, then I wanted to be a basketball player for a while, that passed. Then I wanted to do criminology, then I wanted to do law. Then I wanted to do art, and then I wanted to do writing. But after all that you finally get to a point where you decide this is what you want and you have to go through with it no matter what.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: It’s the same kind of thing. What can I do to make myself a better writer? I mean, should I go to college to do, what is my aim? Because there comes a time when every good writer has to flesh themselves out somewhere along the way, and the sooner the better.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well back then, like I said, I wrote fan fiction, and just to, I’m sure you’re familiar with how that whole idea works, is that you are taking something that somebody has already created and you are adding on to it. It’s much the same thing like inventing something. There’s two ways to invent something. Either come up with your own idea or build on an existing one. And that’s what that was, was building on an existing one. And I guess I kind of grew out of that, because today I don’t see that as something I want to do anymore. In fact, I kind of loathe it, you know? I find it to be pretty, I don’t want to say childish, but there are – it’s become less a labor of love and more just a chore to people, and you can, it’s obvious in their writing and reading that that’s what’s going on. I don’t know.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: I mean I enjoy, I enjoy writing. I mean, as long as it comes from my own, my own expression, my own ideas, it’s something I enjoy. It’s that whole same idea, you know, is that you are creating something and that’s pretty much the bottom line on it. How does this coming from being an expression of your own self help you? Well, I mean, everybody needs a way to artistically get themselves out there. I mean, I find that no matter what you do, that it’s a way to justify your path in life. I think I remember telling you this, but just up until a couple months ago I didn’t really have an idea in life about what I wanted to do. And then I got to talking with you at [the convention] and then I finally decided I wanted to do a research project like that too. I wanted to find answers for myself. Because there’s, I think there’s a personal truth in there somewhere that it really needs to come out, and I want to be the one to find out what that is.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well I enjoyed it, it made me feel like I was, and people gave me, when I had people read my work and say oh yeah this is pretty good, of course it made me feel good, because that’s what you want to hear. Now it’s not really the same thing, you know, there’s what you want to hear and then there’s what you need to hear. Back then, I was more on this side, what I wanted to hear, and now I know what I need to hear. How do you think this needing to hear what other people think, how do you think that relates to how you see yourself? Constructive criticism makes you a better writer. I mean, it’s pretty plain and simple. Without the ideas of others you can’t really better yourself. It’s kind of, that’s the irony of writing. If you are writing something for yourself, the only way it becomes readable is with the ideas of others.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Well back then it was something I did just for fun, and now it’s become, it’s more of a dual purpose. I still do it because I like it, but I do it because I want to find answers. And I guess that’s, that’s what my thing is.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well, there’s an answer in there somewhere. Back then, it was just, I didn’t really think about it as being connected, but once you think about it, that whole idea that writing has, there are ranges, there’s demographics, and it’s that same kind of idea. Back then, I didn’t really think about it. But now you realize there are, when you write something, who’s going to read my work, who’s going to want to read it, what are they going to get out of it. And those ideas lead you to believe that the whole social structure is, as much as you want to do away with it, it’s almost necessary. And how did this realization help you, this realization about the social structure? It helps me to better myself. Whenever I put the pen to the paper I have to think, what am I writing, who am I writing it for, why am I writing it, and all these questions come up and only by answering those questions can we truly create good works of art.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Yeah, like I said, it’s kind of weird. With video games, you see this structure as not being necessary, but with something as [unclear] as writing, you see it as being absolutely necessary. And that, therein lies a conundrum that you have to, you don’t have to necessarily pick one or the other, but you have to realize that all these ideas are constantly present in our lives even though they contradict one another that, you know, that that’s what makes the balance of the world.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Well, like I said, when I first started I wrote about games and TV shows, and that whole idea that I was building on someone else’s work that really helped me to want to write more, because there’s, you know, it’s hard to think of something originally, but it easy to pick something out of, you know, and say okay I want to do this with that.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Like the idea that I said, up until a couple months ago it wasn’t even just a professional issue, it was a personal issue for me, that you know I have never really confessed this to anybody but I mean I used to be really, really serious about it. I mean, I was depressed. I didn’t have something to do in my life. I didn’t have a [unclear] to set. And my friends can all attest to this, I was a basket case pretty much, and then once I found out I wanted to do this now, it really gave me that kind of, it really gave me a drive of something I wanted to do. I want to be the one to find the truth.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: Of course, there were, everybody has detractors, and I was no exception. I remember one kid, I wrote a story I thought was really good for my class, my English class, and I showed it to this kid because we had to do cross-examination, and this kid told me, he pretty much said it sucked, and then he ripped up my story right in front of my eyes. Something like that, that was a pretty rude awakening. Back then I thought everybody’s going to like my work, there’s no problems, and he ripped it up. And how did having him rip up your work hurt you? Well, obviously it was personally, it was deeply affecting, but–I had to write the story over again. It’s just that idea — it really, it hurt in the sense that it was deeply affecting, but at the same time it helped in that I, it helped me find a clear cut path.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: Well whenever I surf the boards and I see these people, I guess I get this idea, I don’t want to say I’m an elitist because I don’t think I am, I really wouldn’t want to be, but I get this idea that writing is not for everyone. There are people out there that choose to ignore that. You have to have certain things in order to be a writer. I’m not saying that because I’m hard-headed or anything. It’s true. You can’t just write a jumble of stuff on a paper and say and try to expect to call it art. And there are so many people that don’t realize that and what gets me is that when they are told that they won’t take it as being constructive, they take it as being destructive. And I see that, it happens more than you think it would, and it saddens me, it really does. And how does seeing this in other people, how does it hurt or hinder you in your writing? When I think about these people, on the one hand, when I’m doing this project, I’m thinking these are the people I have to deal with. These are the people that I’m writing for. And if these people don’t take themselves seriously, how am I supposed to? And that’s probably the biggest hurdle with my project at the moment, is that I have to, I have to figure out a way to get around that without being personally biased or destructive to people, because I don’t want to be.


  • FIRST TIME/THEN: The ideas, you know, the ideas that I have now, that whole kind of truth search that I’m going for. How would that have helped you? Just by giving me something to shoot for. Maybe I wouldn’t have written those kinds of things for so long until I accepted the change. Do you think that having these ideas that you have now, having them back then, as hindering you in any way? I think so, because like I said, everything, for everything good there’s something bad. And this idea that I have, I’ll attest to it that I am not, I’m not the most qualified person in the world. There are people, there are many, many more people who are way more qualified to do this, but not me. But that shouldn’t stop me from wanting to do it anyway. Actually, the other day, no, it was the last time I got online, maybe two and a half weeks ago, somebody had posted one of Lawrence Eng’s, one of his essays, and I actually read that and I’m like wow, this guy is good. I mean, it was enlightening, but at the same time it was intimidating. How am I, some guy who’s just a no-name, some average Joe, supposed to top something like that? So it’s that whole idea.
  • SECOND TIME/NOW: I don’t know. To be able to get the same kind of joy that I got from writing at first. It’s not the same kind of thing that I get now, but to have that idea that you are enjoying what you are doing moreso — if I could, I’d like to have it both ways. I’d like to have joy to the point where it’s something that I really like, and I’d like to have professionalism to the point where it’s something that other people want to read. But obviously you have to find a balance. How do you think this having joy now would help you? I mean, what I wrote back then, I wouldn’t really, sometimes I wouldn’t — I really wouldn’t care that people would criticize my work, you know, I’d just keep on writing. And in that sense I can see why, why I get so angry with people now is that they, that’s what they’re doing. That they have that joy that nobody is going to tell them otherwise. So it’s really something you can’t have both ways.


SIMILARITIES: Oh yeah, they still bring me happiness. I mean, that’s why, that’s why anybody does anything. It’s, that’s why people are the way they are today, it’s convenience, it’s enjoyment, it’s entertainment, and all those things come together to create, you know, to create, pretty much create the world we live in now. How do you think having all these things give you enjoyment, how does that help you? Well I mean nobody wants to do something they don’t like. I mean, you can ask anybody that and they’ll say it. And for me, to be a writer particularly, and for me to be a gamer, and for me to enjoy going places, I have to want to do them, I have to have the motivation, and in that sense it’s, that’s how it works.

CONTRADICTIONS: Oh, of course. I mean, I can’t, everything contradicts everything else. I mean, that’s how balance is conceived. Like if I’m a writer, I can’t just say I want to write about video games. I can’t do that, there’s a strict system that has to be followed. And if I’m a gamer, I can’t say, I don’t say I’m going to write down these things because — they don’t contradict directly, but you don’t put them together logically. And when it comes to that, people tell you you have to pick one or the other, I mean, do you really have to?

QUESTIONS: Oh yeah, everyday, I mean, I ask myself when I pick up the controller, why am I playing this. When I write something, why am I writing this? And it’s that same idea that those questions you ask are the same things that motivate you. Because the bottom line is that everything, everything is about finding answers to something. As vague as that sounds. If you do something, you want to know why are you doing that thing, what ends, means, what ends are you trying to achieve? What means are you using? There are so many questions that people have to ask themselves and it’s amazing that humanity actually functions still with so many questions, you know?

IDEAS: Well, I mean, I always wonder what it would be like if I wasn’t, you know, if I didn’t play games or didn’t write, where would I be now. It’s things you have to wonder about. Does wondering about these things help you in anyway? Oh yeah, I mean, sometimes you can find inspiration through imagination. And you can find imagination through inspiration. That’s my credo. Does wondering about these things hurt you in anyway? Of course. I mean, I can’t, I can’t just sit around dreaming things all day. You gotta have, you have to actually put these things into motion.

SENSE OF SELF:Yeah, you know, they all, everything I do comes together to create me. Not on a physical level but there are a lot of questions that I have to ask myself everyday. And those questions are, that’s what makes me. How do you see asking these questions as how they relate to your sense of self? Well, I guess I can’t find, I can’t find things about myself unless I ask these questions. And I guess it’s not really complex to say, but when it boils right down to it, you have to, it’s one of those things you just have to do.

HELP, FACILITATING: Well yeah, back when I used to write fanfics that’s what gave me the idea, playing games. While that may not be a practical application, it’s a good example of a connection that’s made. Do you see a connection with the park at that time, or in regards to these two other things? You know, not really. I don’t really tend to correlate those things together.

HURTS, HINDERS: Well yeah, I mean, this is my path in life. Once you take that road, you don’t know where other roads will lead. That whole idea of imagination, it can be your biggest strength or your biggest weakness. It goes both ways.

POWER: Well of course I do. I mean everyday, if I turn on the TV and I see the president talking, all those guys that write things about him, how does that affect how he is viewed by the American public? Every time I play a game, do I want to go online and get the cheat codes for that, do I want to — I mean, I don’t know how that relates to power, I don’t know how the hell I got that way, but you know that whole thing that this leads to that and that leads to this, it just becomes, it becomes the idea of how you view pretty much everything in your life, including power structures.

One response to “Fandom as Repeatedly Returning to What Matters Most”

  1. Fans of Trump, Fans of Jesus – It's Playing, Just With Research Avatar

    […] deal with and touch upon similar human needs, such as a sense of purpose, belonging, and devotion. Myself, and others, have argued that a core element of being a fan is repeatedly returning to some […]


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