Thoughts from ARGFest: Transmedia Storyteller Fandom

Fan This past weekend, I found myself attending ARGFest-o-Con 2011, a haven of ARGers and transmedia storytellers. Those of you who follow me on twitter know this. Sorry for the spamming.

I had a fantastic time, and met a lot of people I'd been wanting to meet, as well as others I didn't know I wanted to meet but am glad to have done so! There were tons of great discussions and panels and speakers, and I was pleased to see just how welcoming a community it is.

I have a lot of thoughts about what I experienced and discussed this weekend, which I will attempt to lay out in a series of posts over the next couple of weeks. During dinner one evening, Andrea Phillips asked JC Hutchins about developing his fandom. She professed that she didn't have "fans" of her work like he did (other than other creators), and wondered at that.

The thought was that transmedia projects developed by a group don't tend to advertise very strongly who developed them. This may stem from ARG traditions of the puppetmasters hiding their identities until after the campaign is complete, or just from the very nature of the projects -- there's no author byline on the cover of the book, or credits at the start and end.

And I think this is something that has to change. We as creators need to own our work. Whether its a byline on the top of the main website, or a prominent About page, or a behind-the-curtain means of communicating to the team, we need to say, "This project was made by these people." And then we need to be going out and evangelizing our own work. "I worked on this project, and it's launching now. Please go check it out."

We need to develop our fanbases. We need audience members to say, "Andrea Phillips worked on this project? I'll definitely check it out!" (Though frankly, I think Andrea probably does have a fanbase, being as awesome as she is.)

Transmedia projects are usually team efforts, so it's a bit different from, say, an author. But movies are team efforts -- so own your role. Film lovers go to movies because they love the director or the writer or the producer or the actor. They should check out transmedia stories because they love the designer or the game developer or the writer or the producer as well.

As JC Hutchins says, shake your ass. Get word out there (not obnoxiously, though!), own your work, and own your fanbase. This industry needs that.