The 46th episode of the ‘Angry Video Game Nerd’ web-series, titled ‘The Wizard & Super Mario Bros. 3’, begins in a different manner. Instead of the regular rendition of the series theme song, the viewers see a montage of fan-made renditions of the song, followed by the tagline “What have we started?”, highlighting that way that the host is no longer a simple fan, but a leader who started his own trend.
James D. Rolfe is an American filmmaker and avid video games enthusiast. He rose to Internet fame when he started uploading video reviews of old video games, which he presented in a comedic (and often vulgar) manner. This series was named ‘The Angry Nintendo Nerd’ and later ‘The Angry Video Game Nerd’. During his transition from a fan to a maker of content, he managed to create a cult following and receive contribution by fans (like fanart and theme remixes), but also rewards, both monetary and material (games and items sent to him by followers).
Through 'fanding' (funding offered to a fan by other fans)(1) on Indiegogo, he was able to create his first full-length film, in which he once again portrayed his Nerd persona. On-line environments are suitable for this new economy of fanding and hierarchy climb, and The Angry Video Game Nerd is a prime example of that: a fan climbing up the fan hierarchy, and from a follower, becoming a maker with fans and followers of his own.
Big media projects regularly ask for support through funding platforms such as Kickstarter and Patreon; a practice described as 'fan-ancing' (Scott 2015). Fans, though, make content for their own pleasure, artistic expression, and need to give back to the community. However, when that fan-made content manages to draw attention, fans might see a community formed around them, and they might become able to make the transition towards a way of earning an income. This is when fans make use of micropatronage platforms like Kickstarter or Patreon to receive fanding for their own projects and reward their followers: the fans of fans.
Scott, Suzanne. “The moral economy of crowdfunding and the transformative capacity of fan-ancing.” New Media & Society 17.2 (2015): 167–182.