30 Day Challenge Day Twenty One: How did fandoms influence you and your life?

If you’re interested in participating in the Geek Out Challenge, read this post here! Each day I will be posting a question for that day for the next 30 days. Follow along each day with your own post or feel free to wait until the entire challenge has been released and take it on when you like! Be sure to link back to the master post at the end or link back to each post for each day.

Day Twenty One: How did fandoms influence you and your life?

A fandom is an appealing notion, the collective union of a passionate force coming together around a specific concept, filled with positivity, hope and optimism. I’ve talk extensively in the last few weeks about my love for Star Trek and how it shaped and influenced me in my formative years and continues to play an important part of my life. Star Trek was one of the original fandoms, indeed its return was driven very much by the fanbase who demanded its return on cancellation, staging the first convention events in America in the 1970’s before the eventual arrival of the Motion picture. As a series it has two different terminologies for its fan base, Trekkers and Trekkies, I identify personally with the former but contrary to popular belief, I have no ill will towards my Trekkies in arms.

It has been a series I have enjoyed immensely, from my very first experience watching a small black and white TV and the emergence of the Enterprise-D to the latest Picard trailer, my enthusiasm and passion is as strong as ever thanks in part to a new found commitment to its continuing legacy. I have enjoyed the positivity and direction of the original vision of Gene Roddenberry and how it continues to grow and influence generations of individuals who weren’t even alive when the original series first aired. Star Trek has been ever present in my transformative years into adulthood, staying true to its moral compass and guidance, it’s had an influence over me for many years, the prevailing message of discourse over conflict as witness in The Next Generation an ethos I try to enshrine in my everyday diktat.

The original intention of Around The Bonfire as I’ve discussed before was a collaborative effort by a group of friends, myself included, to launch and curate a cross platform alternate discussion presence, shaped around primarily gaming and video game culture, gaming fandom. My contribution to the project was to be principally involved with the writing and written content using this platform, the group effort in its original guise fizzled out with a lack of drive and direction, or perhaps to many directions and no decisive action. And yet there was no real animosity as a result of this not taking place and we all still share gaming as a passion and past time. One of my close friends, originally involved, now working in Amsterdam is a regular contributor to Region Free Gamer’s which is a great international collaboration discussing their favourite subject in detail.

We all enjoy gaming to various extents, for me and the direction I see myself taking it is very much dissecting and exploring the process behind the world creation of the games we play. I do gain some enjoyment from actually playing the game although given the current predication towards large open world titles, it has to be an especially effective and memorable open world for me to recommend. I have started collecting gaming art books in earnest, not for collections sake but certainly with a view to expanding and exploring the crafting of the title I was playing, my personal highlight to date remains the Dead Space compendium title which goes into detail on how the small nuanced touches were designed specifically to add depth and connectivity to the user.

When I begun writing again in earnest last year it was with no set direction or awareness where this would lead. I have always proceeded with the mindset of setting myself small achievable goals to accomplish, building on those towards a final destination. My first, was to write consistently for a year, I had struggled to write and commit to writing before so this was a step up for me. Secondly to play and finish a game a month, again I enjoy gaming but suffer from the similar affliction of many in this fandom and community on starting a new game and setting it aside for the latest release irrespective of its state of play. Third, to begin to communicate and collaborate with other authors and creators, irrespective of leaning or viewpoints to have the conversation. Largely, I have accomplished my original goals for the most part and feel it was principally because of the community and drive of the gaming fandom that gave rise to this, that influenced me this past year.

It gave me the motivation and courage to attend the conventions during the summer, an experience I had largely foregone for most of my life. As I discussed in some detail originally, I can work and function in a front facing public role but find my personal time is best spent with a small close group of friends, I enjoy the personal social interactions and despise large crowds. The conventions, are a challenging experience, especially when you are consciously aware of standing out as somewhat of a big nerdy giant. What drove me on both occasions was a chance to be amongst like minded individuals present for their passion in gaming and generally geek culture and fandom. The London Film and Comic Con was certainly an excuse this year to not only meet one of my childhood idols in William Shatner and Robert Picardo but equally a day out talking to and interacting with a number of Star Trek fans. It allows you a certain degree of freedom and liberty outside your comfort zone you otherwise may not engage or enact.

Fandom in some way shape, or form has been a part of my life from an early age, playing with my Lego as a child and recreating the bridge of the Enterprise with my Micro Machine Star Trek models to build the illusion of my mind. Today, I am fortunate and blessed to be in a position where I can indulge my interest in my hobbies and fandoms to a greater degree, recently when I visited Malta for example with good planning and foresight I was able to visit a number of shooting locations and represent in my Game of Bones T-Shirt. I’ve enjoyed the fandom aspect but equally it has had an influence on me, especially over the last year where I have embraced writing again and begun to shape my personal narrative on the subject matter. As a consequence, it has opened my eyes to the wider, fan community of gaming and video game culture beyond the solitary digital experience into a wider base. Living in London I have been fortunate to attend three separate conventions in the last year at MCM, LFCC and EGX whilst also attending as a result of a deeper exploration of gaming culture the Manga exhibit at the Museum of London and the recent Pokemon Centre.

Whilst Star Trek has probably in retrospect had the biggest continuing influence and presence in my life, certainly gaming and the video game fandom and community, especially the writing community has had a large influence over the last year and a half. My ambition was always to expand out into collaboration with other writers and bloggers, I’ve been fortunate to be involved in a few collaborations to date with another due for release next Friday courtesy of Adventure Rules and find this a really enjoyable aspect of the community of creators I find myself in. Beyond the indulgence of getting to live and explore the aspects of your life you enjoy such as visiting other countries to walk in the footsteps of your heroes or even just travelling to London to meet an idol, beyond that self indulgence it has also influenced me to push outside my comfort barrier and engage with like minded individuals, something which I had always been somewhat reticent to do. When I visited the Pokemon Centre in London recently, there was a six hour queue and I was on my own on the day. I stood, and got to know to some degree six other adults who were in front of me, exchanging pleasantries on my part but largely being on the periphery, the orbit of the conversation. It was enough, and when I needed a comfort break there was a communal consensus, of having each others back for that time we were together. The negative aspects of fandoms I’m yet to encounter, I am sure they are out there but in a polarised world, they seem to be the aspect of ourselves we can share in communion with each other.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog please ‘like’ the Around The Bonfire Facebook page and contribute your own stories and comments, and share my blog and Facebook posts (this is really important – it’s how we reach more readers!). Alternatively join us in the Twitter Universe  for a take on the latest gaming news or Instagram for a wealth of gaming pictures and stories.

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