MCV Pacific Weekly Editor Joab Gilroy takes a look at the emergence of Fandom in Australia.
For a long time it was easy to think of Fandom powered by Wikia (formerly Wikia) as merely the function of its parts. The would-be Jedi who reached it via Wookiepedia might never have known how it helped Dark Souls players beat that next boss. Everquesters could remain ignorant of the Trekkies maintaining the Federation library at Memory Alpha. Wikia has been a critical element in how people experience and appreciate pop-culture for more than a decade.
The launch of a news and stories portion to the site — which began early last year and has been picking up steam ever since — is part of the company's drive to bring those semi-disparate communities together. By using expert knowledge from around the network Fandom is trying to create a one-stop destination for pop culture enthusiasts. Movie buffs, gamers and comic book fans (and all the many wonderful fandoms that aren't easily categorised) collaborate with Fandom's dedicated staffers to create an up-to-the-minute site posting everything from trailers to episode recaps — and it's successful enough that they're taking the company on the road, moving into Australia this year.
The difference lies in the nature of the writing involved with Fandom and with the community wikis. Because the wikis are pointedly informational, they're restricted in what they can talk about — there's no room in the Tardis Data Core community to discuss alternate casting options for the Doctor Who series, but it's a flawless fit for the Fandom model, because it draws on the immense wealth of knowledge available to the community and then extrapolates it into interesting articles.
"Take Dark Souls for example," said Nikki Flynn, Global PR Director at Fandom, as we talked about the move into Australia. "Anybody can write an article, and it doesn't have to be super informational — which might be a better fit for the community [wiki] side of things. Instead, it might be something like a 'Behind the Scenes' or a 'Top 10 Bosses from the Series'. That's a complete fit for an editorial piece on our Games page, and it's something people have been really responsive to."
The move into Australia is part of a bigger effort as the company expands Fandom worldwide, but the Asia Pacific region is critical to their end goal of establishing a 24/7 curated news cycle.
“With the launch of Fandom in 2016, the company has seen tremendous success on a global scale. My role, based in Sydney, is to oversee the APAC region. The timing was strategic with the natural growth of the company,” explained Eric Welles, VP of Sales at Fandom. “The power of Fandom is unlike anything being offered in the entertainment marketplace. With our dominant audience position in ANZ and APAC, as well as our massive engagement story, I am incredibly excited about what our brand can provide marketers as well as our users in this region.”
By sitting at the juncture where community experts and editorial experts meet, Fandom is able to leapfrog a lot of common community engagement hurdles. Stories on Fandom tap into that familiar 'just one more click' behaviour many of us will recognise from late nights on TV Tropes or weird wikis. An article about the Jurassic World Script that never was takes you to the horror wiki, and before you know it you're reading about an Escape Room based on Netflix's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. It's a compelling model, making reading addictive, and it's just getting started for Australia.
This article first appeared in MCV Pacific Weekly, MCV Pacific's new weekly industry communication. You can subscribe here.