Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Originally Published Feb 1st 2019
Building a Fandom for Global Health
What Makes A Fan?
I am fortunate enough to be married to a self-identified fan boy. The type of person who squeals when a new comic book is released, writes pages upon pages of fan fiction, and regularly bonds with strangers over their shared love for a character (Dr. Strange). Fans have a religious-like zeal for their favorite characters and worlds. Just look at Star Trek, Harry Potter, The Avengers...the list goes on.
And yet, what is it that really makes a person a fan?
Levels of Engagement and Interactivity
I believe fans are the most interactive audiences of entertainment franchises. They don’t merely sit and observe. They collaborate, they build, they share and they create new experiences based upon the franchise’s characters and cannon.
Rather than passively consume media, they become involved—going beyond the screen or page and continuing the story. They co-create. Using the characters, cannon and world as inspiration, fans continue to play – be it through fan fiction, community discussion, art, costumes, gatherings, merchandise – anything to capture the initial emotional and sensational experiences they had when they first fell in love with the characters and their worlds.
Co-Creators for Global Health Solutions
Now what if we applied the same concepts from entertainment-based fandoms to issues like global health? How could we leverage fans to co-create experiences—even solutions—for serious global issues like pandemics or cardiovascular disease?
I believe that with relatable characters and compelling narratives, we can cultivate fans of global health. The type of people who no longer feel like bystanders, but rather become engaged and eager to learn, create and play. Global health doesn’t need to be an insurmountable obstacle where only a select few can rise to the challenge. It can be a community of fans—co creators—eager to interact with health at both a personal and community level. You don’t have to be a doctor to care about global health. You don’t have to have a PhD to stop the spread of disease. You can be a fan – committed to doing your part for the characters, cannon and world.
We created our AR mobile game Virus Hunters using character driven narrative, health alert data and co-creative game play to foster players into fans.
Fans who feels empowered and eager to participate in global health.
Fans who practice bodily integrity and implement health literacy for better public health practices.
Fans who advocate for their health and the health of others.
If that’s not worth being a fan about…then what is?