Video games indulge their audience more than any other artistic discipline. If gamers line up for a franchise, its publisher will release increasingly uninspired yearly installments, until there’s not a cent left to be made. If players enjoy a certain side character, he will almost certainly return for his own spin-off series. Gamers have a hard time letting go, because they’re so used to getting more, more more. More DLC, more character packs, more endless franchises. They whine when a title gets delayed, and then complain it feels “rushed” upon release. They want constant content, but they also want it to consistently meet their expectations.
So it’s not hard to see how fanfiction reared its ugly head among this madness. Fanfiction allows distraught gamers to access more narrative threads within their favorite fictional worlds, indulging beyond the mere vision of the game designers. Didn’t like the ending to the latest Mass Effect? Write a new one where Shepard throws her crew a big goodbye party! Fanfiction is largely about taking control of a cultural object and finally, truly making it your own. Is it powerful beyond the solipsism and complete disrespect for authorial intent it represents? Sixty billion Fifty Shades of Gray fans (a book that famously began as Twilight fanfiction) can’t be wrong.
Yet every so often, a fanfiction author emerges who is so attuned to the world of his obsession — its tone, its themes, its characters’ dialects — that he not only validates the genre’s existence, but provides a fresh, worthwhile take on a beloved property. Through his capable prose, the form actually transcends mere indulgence and speaks to the fan in all of us, encapsulating what lured us to the source material to begin with. Of all the fanfiction masterpieces recognized as worthy successors to their originals (citation needed), perhaps none is more monolithic, more perfect, and more real than Fanfiction.net author Squirrelking’s magnum opus, Half-Life: Full Life Consequences. Continue reading