Every year I think Dragon*con couldn’t possibly get any better, and yet somehow it always does. The highlight of 2013? For me, the cast of Defiance stood out above everything else, including the guys dressed in camouflage to match the carpet of the Marriott Marquis.
It helped of course that they faithfully showed up (boo hiss at the canceled Walking Dead panels). When you stand in line in the Georgia heat for over an hour, something as small as showing up takes on a whole new level of meaning. But these faithful cast members did far more than just appear on time. They were attentive to the audience. They were articulate. They were amazingly well-read (ask Grant Bowler sometime about the connection he sees between Nolan and the works of Ayn Rand–better yet, ask him about the rules of Australian football). And they loved the fans enough to fit right in.
On Monday morning, after four exhilarating and grueling days of non-stop science-fiction-fantasy-and-spandex, the cast appeared for a final panel, just as enthusiastic about their fans as ever. I had the opportunity to ask them that morning what viewers and gamers could do to keep both the show and the game alive for a long and happy run, and all three of the appearing stars–Grant Bowler, Stephanie Leonidas, and Jaime Murray–agreed whole-heartedly: don’t be a silent audience.
In the 21st century, executive decisions about video games and television shows are no longer made in an information vacuum. There may have been a time when the Nielsen Ratings were all the entertainment industry had to work with, but in the age of social media, individual viewers (and gamers!) have a lot to say about how much money TV and game producers are willing to invest in a franchise, especially a ground-breaking franchise like Defiance.
“Talk about the show and the game,” the cast encouraged the audience. “Tweet about it, post about it on Facebook, use social media and put the word out.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. If it isn’t, they’ll let me know because these guys are out there doing it themselves. The cast of Defiance is on Twitter every day, interacting with fans and walking the talk. I have no doubt they will read the article because they are just that involved in the Defiance community.
Of course the number one thing you can do to support the game–and the TV show along with it–is to play it, whether on Xbox, Playstation, or PC. But if you really want to be an active participant in growing the Defiance franchise, including the addition of new race packs and new content in the game and many new seasons to come in the television show, you need to help build the audience, and you need to clamor for more.
One thing I’ve noticed personally in the gaming community is an unfortunate tendency for the bitter minority to be a lot more vocal that the happy majority. This is partly situational–the happy gamer is playing the game, killing hellbugs and rescuing NPC’s, while the gamer suffering from connection issues is stuck on the forums with nothing better to do than to complain about their Internet problems.
But the other half of the phenomenon defaults to personality profiles. People who are more easily frustrated (more aggressive, more demanding, more high-strung) tend to be more vocal, while people who are more laid back tend not to be as outspoken. Is this a vast oversimplification of gaming personality types? Of course, it is. But as a general rule, I have to stand by it. The “Type A’s” are out there venting their frustrations, while the “Type B’s” are far more likely to experience their enjoyment quietly than to rave about it.