Media needs a creator. These are people who usually create because they have a passion or story to tell. This has allowed for a multitude of stories. Entering the modern age the average person can develop, produce, and distribute various forms of media. The ability for content creators to communicate directly with their fans via social media leads to a unique situation where fans have an active voice in creating media. This can be troublesome for developers, artists, and writers who have to deal with the ever-watchful eye of harsh fans.
A clear example of this is in the video game industry. Game developers like Bethesda and Bioware are big names in the RPG (roleplaying game) franchise and are known for shelling out AAA titles. Besthedsa is responsible for the Fallout and the Elder Scrolls series and Bioware has created the well-received Dragon Age and Mass Effect series.
Both of these companies have developed DLC (downloadable content) to retcon endings for their games. This action and time was spent solely to appease the fans who were upset with the original endings, so widely disliked that the developers ultimately felt they needed to address it.
The response from fans is that the game’s ending does not respect the player’s investment in the created world of the game. For many, the spirit of these games and RPGs in general is to create a character and experience a personalized story where you make choices that shape the world and events around you. The games are to be a vehicle for them to choose the story themselves. For many people this involves making decisions that are important and often difficult. A rather large number of fans where disheartened from the endings of these titles, feeling they wasted their time, money, and emotional investment.
This sentiment is not limited to the large companies either; small indie developers feel the pressure as well. The Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise after its emergence and rise in popularity was monitored severely by the fans. The internet is known for making no qualms about its opinion on things and the game’s creator Scott Cawthon has more than once expressed the stress he feels and how it can be daunting to further develop game titles for the franchise, knowing that fans are watching and judging him so closely. He even mentions this frustration in a companion title to the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, FNAF World, where he himself appears as a secret boss to the game’s hard mode ending. The “character’s” dialogue reveals his feelings:
“That’s some real dedication. Great job! Most people are content playing through the game on Normal Mode, but not you…” (Scott Cawthon congratulating the player for making it this far.)
“There is always an over-achiever in the bunch. I guess that’s you.” (Scott Cawthon to the player.)
“So it’s your fault then, for my misery. It’s never enough for you people.” (Scott Cawthon starts giving the blame to the player for forcing him to make more sequels for FNaF.)
“Don’t you get it? I can’t do this anymore! I won’t….” (Scott Cawthon starts transforming.)
“It was fun being the puppet-master, but now I grow weary. It is time to put you in your place.” (Scott Cawthon as he warns the player that he will put an end to it.)
“Now let me show you how this game ends.” (Final battle begins.)
“Ok. Alright. I get it.” (Scott Cawthon after being defeated in battle.)
“Was this really the ending you wanted? Coming all the way here just to kill me?” (Scott Cawthon once again blaming the player, only this time blaming it for killing him.)
“Was I REALLY the villain in your mind? I mean sure, this is definitely one way to bring the story to a halt, but surely there was a more satisfying end.” (Scott Cawthon as he questions the players motive for killing him.)
“I just do what is demanded of me! I fill your insatiable gullets with more and more and more! And now here you are to show your gratitude.” (Scott Cawthon blaming the player for killing him despite of the fact that he did what the FNaF community wanted.)
“Well congratulations then. I haven’t brought this story to an end; you did. So feel good about yourself for ending the story by killing the storyteller!” (Scott Cawthon “congratulating” the player for killing him, with his death the story is finished, as he says that he is the storyteller of the game.)
It should be noted that Cawthon mentions his dialogue in game as the hard mode ending boss is not meant to be taken seriously. Its inclusion was seemingly added in a joking manner. While there is no reason to believe Cawthon is not being sincere in his statement of the joking tone, it is clear there is some hard feelings between him and his fans.
As fans, one should try to remember that the story does not revolve around them. A fan is sitting back to enjoy the work of someone else and while this often means paying to experience the media, this does not entitle demands aimed at the creator to change the narrative to better serve them.
Creators are entitled to tell the stories they want, to imagine, structure, change and shape things to create the world and circumstances that they envision.
No creator should have their freedom constricted because of fan outage. Fear that their idea, their vision, interpretation or adaptation will receive backlash. Creativity is not something to bar or control. No one puts pen to paper aiming to create something awful. Fans should not be another barrier to overcome in the creative pursuit.