I've been tasked with writing an editorial piece for the excellent Tel Mora Independent Press on the history of TES fandom, and thought it best to gather opinions other than my own for it as well. Can you please tell me what your experience with the TES fandom has been, and how it has changed over time, if you think it has. In particular, can you include:
- What year you become involved with the TES franchise
- What your first TES game was
- When you started becoming involved in the TES fandom
- What platforms you started talking to the fandom on, and what ones you interact on now
- How you think the fans have reacted to new games
- How the communities you are part of are different from the ones you started in (are they?)
For my part, I began playing TES with Morrowind in around 2003 or 2004, but didn't really get in involved with the fandom until around 2007-8 I think, where I needed some modding help. I started on the Bethsoft forums, and in addition to the very helpful tech support fans on those boards, I tended to catch the tail end of lore discussions and chip in with comments that I felt mostly got ignored, because everyone was in the US and interacting on a totally different time frame to me. So I drifted in and out.
The Bethsoft forums when I was around them seemed to do little apart from talk about Vivec, the Dwemer and CHIM. Other threads were mostly short, or about the Thalmor. As well as the general "what is it?/where are they?" questions, there were a handful of awesome discussions about concepts in the lore that made my jaw drop. Both types of post seemed to be populated by the same handful people, regardless of who started the posts; the regulars would have their perspectives and discussions they would always roll out, with particular hobby horses ("Apoptosis is not necrosis!"). When the Bethsoft forums started to get quiet, I migrated to /r/teslore around 2013, mostly because I realised that the people I was most interested in were posting their interesting stuff there instead, and I finally felt like I knew enough to take part in the discussions then. I missed the C0DA Bethesda forum chaos by a fluke, but saw the confusion around "why are some things in Community Creations now?", which people seemed mildly ticked off about. I also took a vague part in the Amaranth hunt, but regularly lost track because of the timezone difference.
I remember that, in addition to the perennial "Cyrodiil isn't a forest!" stuff that was still around by the time I was becoming active again in 2008, people were still having some difficulty reconciling the Thu'um with the dragon language, although this may have been a vocal minority. I remember that when ESO dropped, there was much snark around the composition of the alliances, and several people swearing off the games altogether. That was the first time I'd see an exodus because of the lore, however; before, most people seemed to simply tough it out and carry on. Maybe something to do with it being an MMO? Attitudes among the old guard seem to have mellowed on this, however, and the fans who have the biggest chip on their shoulder seem to be the ones that came to the games following Skyrim's release.
I started posting on the TESWiki Discussions in 2016, because they had an app and I could easily read TES lore text in a format suited to mobiles (this was just before Google started doing a "make mobile friendly option", which I would have chosen on TIL if I could). I could answer most of the lore questions there quickly (unlike the discussions here, which require more thought and words than I can give through a smartphone), as they were mostly simple ones about how the Aedra and Daedra work, what the Khajiit think of the Dominion and similar. There was the occasional headscratcher, but those seem to be becoming rarer on that app now. I got asked to become a Discussions moderator on there a few months after joining, and still continue to serve in that capacity.
Both platforms seem to have moved away from sourced arguments and in-depth exploration of existing concepts to interesting hypotheticals and unsourced answers. This may be because, unlike when I started, there are quite a few more well-informed fans around, and so sourced debate isn't really necessary. I think this is a problem in the fandom, as people often forget where stuff comes from.
Discord is a platform I've recently started using (over the last 2 years or so, I think), and again, that's useful for short-form questions and debates. Some are more focused than others (Imperial Knowledge's Discord is mostly questions about Fourth Era politics, Deadite's and LadyofScrolls have focused deep dives into particular areas, while /r/ElderScrolls' Discord is a mixed bag that changes night by night, but always seems to be answered by the same people. I would hope I'm one of those, but I'm not sure. Like TESWiki, the format is suited to quick answers, with little attempt to source them. These debates seem to be resolved by appeals to authority (well-known posters, generally) more than in other places.
The C0DA/MK canoncity thing seems to be something that comes up every now and again in pretty much all the platforms I post in, mostly because people want to call it nonsense, or as part of canon arguments. Most of the posts seem to be negative, but there are some C0DA fans out there, mostly located in /r/teslore, from what I can tell. Depending on the topics discussed, it comes up with varying frequency. Generally, the more people talk metaphysics, the more it becomes an issue.
That's mine, in brief. What are your perspectives? I would love to know! Be ready for follow-up questions.
PM me if you don't want something in particular discussed publicly.
This is NOT an invitation to dig up old grudges. You feel the way you feel, and that's fine. No one should be critiqued for their feelings in an exercise like this. However, trying to have the last word on something when someone may still be around to hear it is simply impolite.