Rise of Fandoms: Passion or Genius Marketing

John Green is quoted as saying, “Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.'” These very true words may be why there are console wars between video game systems. It’s why there are Apple fanboys and fangirls, anime conventions and comic cons. Nerds love their stuff and love to talk, debate and argue their love. I am no different, admittedly expressing my disdain for both Apple and Xbox while praising the PlayStation and literally anything else but Apple. As Christmas draws nearer, I’ve caught myself wondering about the point of these ‘wars.’ If the serve a purpose, is that purpose for the fans, or for the corporations that create these devices?

Rise of Fandoms

Working in marketing, I can imagine how the video game console wars thrill both Sony and Microsoft (and Nintendo, too, I guess. But who could hate Nintendo?). In reality, both are formidable systems with pros and cons.  I know some people who prefer to own both systems and, with few exceptions, the same games come out on both. What Sony and Microsoft get out of this ‘war’ is free publicity and loyalty.

In 2000, my parents bought me the first PlayStation with a Crash Bandicoot and Mary Kate and Ashley game. Soon after, I bought Final Fantasy IX and the rest is history, I was hooked. In truth, I may have been hooked even early, through Pokemon games on my Gameboy color. To this day, I prefer the PlayStation and the Nintendo handheld. When Sony came out the with PlayStation Portable (PSP), did I abandon Nintendo handhelds? No way. I loved my Game Boy and I love my Nintendo DS. Since I’m not about to invest in two handheld systems, I’m going to stick with what I love. The same goes for the PlayStation. I’m not sure what would have to happen for me to abandon those loyalties.

Some battles may be aimed at ending loyalties. Look how Microsoft’s Surface and Google’s Android attack Apple. They are trying to characterize Apple as being ‘mainstream’ and Apple’s fans of being blind followers. I think HTC has a commercial literally promoting the idea that people who think for themselves buy their phone.

Is that all this is then, not nerd-filled passion, but marketing genius?

The nerd in me refuses to believe that. I love my video games, anime, books, comics and manga to a fault. I just can’t buy into the idea that I am the gullible victim to some business’s crazy scheme. While the banter between fandoms can sometimes get a little too personal, I think it’s all in good fun. Smack talk between the fandoms is like rival sports teams. You say you dislike the rival, but you get great enjoyment from rooting against them. The joy of victory when your team wins is heightened when the game is won against a rival. A loss only fires you up to cheer harder for the next win.

If you think about it, I bet most major fandoms out there have a rival to nemesis. Star Wars and Star Trek are often pitted against each other, so is Final Fantasy and Zelda. Twihards duke it out with Potterheads. It’s all part of the fun.

If nerds are people who unabashedly love stuff, then flaming nerds are people who shout that passion to the universe. They are those who start conventions and wait for hours in line for the newest release. Perhaps these rivalries and ‘wars’ are godsends to business who couldn’t ask for better publicity. Frankly, I don’t think nerds care. We love to love what we love. It doesn’t get nerdier than that.

What are businesses, books or franchises are you a big fan of? Would you consider yourself a member of a fandom? Do you have a story or experience of someone being too intense about their fandom? What about John Green’s definition of nerd; is it an accurate description?


Photo Copyright: solarseven / 123RF Stock Photo

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17 thoughts on “Rise of Fandoms: Passion or Genius Marketing”

  1. Fun fact according to someone I know in advertising: brand loyalty begins at a young age…and it is amazing how loyal humans are once they find their brand. I’m an Apple person though not necessarily crazy about their products. I’m not sure I’d consider myself a member of any fandom. I love Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. but am not intensely into them either. Interesting post, TK! As for passion or genius marketing, I think it’s both! But more so the latter in most cases. 😛

    1. Well, I was young when I got those systems, but they had to market as much to my parents as to me as a child. The 10-year-old with 100+ dollars to spend on a video game system is rare. I think that’s why Disney is so popular. They’ve nailed it with both adults and children.

  2. Marketing people tap into people’s passions. It’s a powerful selling tool. The two, therefore, become symbiotic. To provide a gaming example, since that is the locus of your post, three of my kids are massively into lego. Therefore, when Lego video games were launched, they were all over them instantly. Nary a bit of marketing had to happen to get them to purchase the first game (Star Wars) because it was already tapping into their passion for lego and tying it to their love of video gaming. They have continued to buy every single Lego video game so far (except for The Hobbit as they want to see the final film first) in the same way. They could launch a video game on watching paint dry and my kids would probably want it if it had the lego brand attached to it.

    As for brand loyalty, my household has had a PS2 and now two (yes two) PS3s having started out video gaming with an XBox. They have maintained the loyalty to the Playstation in order to not have to rebuild their collection of games. Otherwise there is no particular brand loyalty.

    1. I’m the same with Final Fantasy as your boys. I admit, there have been some terrible Final Fantasy games, but I still bought them. I even bought FFXIII even though I expected it to be a lackluster game.

      I think social media has had a huge impact, too. People can now literally be friends with brands, joke with them and develop what feels like a personal relationship with them.

      1. The other side of social media, however, is that people can also obtain “real person” reviews of games before they decide to purchase. As much as it can be used as a promotional tool, word of mouth and the electronic grapevine can also limit the success of a product.

        1. This is true, which is why engagement is key. Before I started my new job, my place of work had nothing for social media. That did not stop people from posting complaints. The rules on the internet are that you will get bad comments, no one is perfect and if you don’t interact with your customers online, you will not get positive comments. In a way, companies are forced to interact and be transparent with their customers, because things will go down hill if they don’t… all due to social media and the internet.

  3. I like stuff!!! 😀
    That said, I’m a fan of several fictional universes, though I’m no hardcore fan and my preference shifts every now and then. I used to be into Stargate: SG1 (still occasionally quoting and referencing stuff) and Star Trek TNG/Voyager. Some of the characters from these three shows were my role models while growing up and have shaped my view on being human in a very profound way. I’m also into LOTR/Hobbit, though it’s more the movies (and the fanart surrounding these) than the books. Yeah, that and Divergent. And The Hunger Games. Ooooh, I want to watch Mockingjay again – the dubbing was so bad, but the movie was great, so I’ll have to go and watch it in English now.

    Totally gonna cosplay (ok, closet cosplay) Tauriel at a friend’s birthday on the day the last Hobbit movie comes out! And I won’t be able to go with them all to the cinema at night because I can’t stand watching movies in 3D (dizziness, motion sickness, and aching eyes/head from seeing blurry lines). Arrg. It’s hard to fangirl when I have to go to a different viewing without my friends 😦

    1. I’m the type of person who either really loves something or really hates it. So I have a ton of fandoms and I’m passionate about every single one ^_^ That’s part of the reason I’m planning to recreate Nerdy Sundays as a blog to talk about all the things I love – including non-nerdy things. I still thinks they’re nerdy, though. I have a VivoFit because I love tracking all the numbers and playing with the colors. I nerd out about everything. ^_^ I’m not sure if that’s a problem or not. I have an addictive personality.

  4. This: “We love to love what we love.” I’m taking this because it’s one of the best explanations of fandom I’ve heard.
    I’m an anime and manga fan although I must confess, I haven’t read manga in a week. Don’t judge me TK! It was vastly getting in the way of my work. I’d pour through Tenmanga.com and before I knew it, 4 hours had passed.

    Currently, I’m getting back to my Studio Ghibli roots. Although I miss Hayao Miyazaki terribly, Ghibli still has a lot to offer as far as story lines and breathtaking artwork goes. Have you seen The Wind Rises yet? It’s sad and inspiring. J actually liked it and it took me weeks to finally get him to agree to watch it. Also, they’re coming out with a new movie in English. It’s called The Tale of The Princess Kaguya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYD0ZXjX6JQ.

    Fun Fact: I ushered in the anime fan revolution to my High School. My freshman year I cosplayed practically everyday. I eventually became known as Crazy T (they said my full name though, not just T). After I became a Sophomore, I noticed the new Freshman were cosplaying as well. Every year the group grew bigger and bigger until we became our own faction of the school. It was glorious!

    John Green is dead on with his definition of nerd, and why wouldn’t he be? He obviously loves to love what we love as much as we do 🙂

    1. Cosplay to school? Now that’s intense. But fun. I have too many fandoms to be involved in them every day. I did play a little FFX HD last night, but it has been a long while since I read a manga. I watched Fate Stay Zero on Netflix not too long ago. All these things I’ll start sharing on a second blog. I love stuff so much, they need their own website ^_^

  5. I am a huge Nintendo fan. That’s probably my main one. I own a Wii u in spite of the lack of games, and I’d be lost in life without my 3DS. My favorite franchises on Nintendo platforms are easily Zelda and Pokemon.

    That said, I own both a 360 and a PS3 (nothing next-gen yet, unfortunately) and some of my favorite games have come out of playing games on those systems. So while I have a favorite, it doesn’t keep me away from the other systems. Hell, one of my favorite games of all time (Bastion) has never seen release on a Nintendo platform.

    The only other thing that I consider myself a huge fan of is Avatar: The Last Airbender. It is just such a fantastic show, in spite of its target audience generally being kids. It goes places and touches on subjects that most kids shows would never even go near, especially in the new series, The Legend of Korra.

    1. I want to get into Nintendo more, especially Zelda, but I really want to start with the very first game. I’ll get the chance one of these days.

      As for new systems, I just got a PS3 last year. I usually play on the previous generation to save a little money.

  6. I read an interesting article about fanboyism (is that even a real word?) a while ago – attaching a lot of the conflict that goes on to the psychological “defence of self” instinct that follows after investing in something.

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