The Dark Side (of Fandom)

So… how’ve you been?

I’ve been good. Life continues. Work. Family. Gaming.

So here’s the thing. I’ve been sitting and mulling on something for a bit, not sure how to approach the topic, given my position in the online RedBrick/Earthdawn community. So let me preface this by saying I really don’t have any insider knowledge in this particular situation, and everything I say here is purely my opinion and in no way reflects on the opinions or positions held by anybody else, anywhere, at any time past, present, or future.

A couple weeks ago, Angus McNicholl uploaded this post to his blog, announcing that he had been removed as primary author on Fading Suns Third Editon — with (apparently) no warning or reason given. The new edition had been in development for some time, and according to earlier announcements from RedBrick, was slated for release later this year.

Things got a little heated online in the wake of this, with a thread on RPGnet  reaching nearly 500 posts, and a couple of threads on the RedBrick forums. Since the news broke, the RB forums have been closed down, with only the admin-only ‘news’ posts available but nothing else.

Again, I want to stress that I don’t know what was/is going on. I was not involved with Fading Suns in any way, and only have a passing acquaintance with Angus. I have known James Sutton (head of RedBrick) for quite a number of years, but I haven’t really spoken with him at all since the announcement. I have no insight into what is going on — I’m as in the dark as anybody else.

I can certainly understand where many of the folks who have commented on this are coming from. All that is out there is Angus’s post, and — effectively — silence from RedBrick. The shutdown of the forums, facebook page, and the like in the past weeks certainly give the appearance of a company that is not interested in addressing the concerns of fans and followers. From the position of somebody outside looking in… it doesn’t look good.

But in all honesty… what is RedBrick going to say? What could they say? This is an internal company matter, and James is under no obligation to anybody to explain the reasons for his decisions. It is his company, and (to shamelessly steal a paraphrase from the much more erudite blog post by Neil Gaiman) he is not your bitch. This matter is between James and Angus, and that is all.

I’m not going to get into a discussion over who has or has not behaved well. That’s not really what I’ve been turning over in my mind the last couple weeks.

What bothers me most about this whole thing is the sense of entitlement that I feel coming off some of the internet commenters — the feeling that they, by virtue of being fans, must be told what is going on. In my opinion, the only thing the fans are entitled to be told is the change. Anything beyond that….


Don’t get me wrong, I like knowing as much as the next guy.

But it isn’t any of my business.

And… this may make me sound like some get-off-my-lawn, uphill-both-ways-in-the-snow fogey… but this idea in the internet age that everything needs to be made public, and is subject to some kind of faux-democratic court of public opinion? A market-based referendum on somebody’s character rather than their creation?

Fuck it.

There are lines. Some content creators are more open to their fans and the public — but that doesn’t mean that all creators need to toe the same lines. We — as fans — are entitled to exactly as much information as they choose to give us. We aren’t part of their lives, and while it is great to be engaged by a creator, and feel a kind of  shared ownership in their creations because of the fan community around it, they produce a product, and we decide whether to consume it. There are lots of reasons to do so, and certainly the public character of the creator can play a part.

But… really… this whole thing? Grumps me right the hell up.

2 thoughts on “The Dark Side (of Fandom)

  1. Seth

    I definitely agree with this point. That dispute was in-house and no explanations are required by RB. However, having said that I do have a gripe about the company to public relationship RB, now FASA, has.

    Fast forward to now with the new incarnation of FASA and I have to say that the PR on a whole is downright miserable. For all intents and purposes there is 0 being said about what’s going on. Product announcements come sporadically and infrequently and most are for Demonworld products (which is great for those players).

    There is a coldness to any statements on the boards by FASA staff (of which I think really only one person responds), and the forums are run very tightly, to the point of being constricting–i.e. no banter, no real deviation of topics and posts are deleted if deemed unproductive, a might subjective designation. There are no product teasers, no images, fan-kits, anything to engage the community–existing and would-be. The company is running things tighter than Apple with regards to products which is a mistake when RPG’s thrive on the community more than anything. I look at Catalyst with Shadowrun and see their efforts on their website(s), Facebook and twitter and can say that is a company linked into it’s fan/user base. I can’t say the for FASA right now.

    I love Earthdawn, and despite not having played in years I keep up with the product (as best I can), continue to follow the FASA site/boards and some community sites, and I am still collecting odds and ends as I find them. However, I have little faith left in the current holders of the license what with all the format changes, little new product over a long period of time, etc.

    I realize P&P gaming is endangered, but this absolute lack of publicity/marketing/customer relations isn’t helping any at all.

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