I stumbled onto an interesting mashup of Halo and Metroid (plus a little Matrix) via Penny Arcade. But the mashup itself, while impressive, didn’t inspire me to write this post. What caught my eye was the commentary on the mashup by its creator, Monty. Let me quote the relevant portion:
One thing that you can’t deny about Halo is that it’s popular. In fact the Halo community is so large that if anything Halo related that surfaces on the web, it gets notice. The movie I submitted here over a year ago that contained a Halo-esque character was wildy more popular than the movie I had submitted more recently despite it being technically better.
It hit me with some minor distaste that the world as it is doesn’t really want new stuff. They want to see new versions of the stuff they already know… Sorta. It could also be viewed in such that with the growing number of characters and stories out there. By trying to sell my own original story with my (somewhat) original characters I am vying for the attention of people who already have well enough to look at. Looking at it that way it’s not so bad that when you think I’m competing against the studios out there that spend a fortune creating stories and characters they’re struggling to sell as well.
As an amateur I can’t really fight standing on the shoulders of already established characters. But it can at least be admired as to what I do with them.
If you can look past the funky grammar, I think you’ll find this to be one of the more elegant insights into fan participation in mass media. Some people co-opt famous IP for love. Some do it for attention. Monty seems to be in the latter category… but that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that Monty created something entertaining. It benefits him, and it benefits the Halo franchise because it reinforces the franchise’s cultural relevance. And if you happen to be a Metroid fan who has never played Halo (or vice versa), perhaps this mashup will be the thing that finally pushes you to try it out. That’s why we need to support and encourage this kind of participation.
Someday, if I ever transition from the role of distributor to the role of creator, I hope guys like Monty will do me the honor of celebrating my works. :-)