School of the Lynx fan-fic creator hopes CD Projekt will come up with “something better” for Witcher 4

Serious stories exploring what would happen if Skyrim‘s Dragonborn was to become Emperor of Tamriel, or present the idea that Deacon of Fallout 4 is actually the protagonist of Fallout 3 with an altered face, humorous stories surrounding Geralt de Riv’s gwent addiction, and art illustrating the inevitable consequences of the deep sexual tension between Disco Elysee‘s detectives, take a look around the community of any popular RPG and you’ll find fans adding their own flavor to their favorite franchises via fan-fiction support.

Fan-fiction works are almost never wrapped up in mainstream reporting surrounding their respective franchises; they’re generally seen as the sort of thing that can make your own games more interesting, but are flimsy grounds on which to build theories. That’s what makes recent events surrounding The Witcher series and the School of the Lynx so interesting: it started life as a simple fan-fiction article on The Witcher wiki before suddenly being teleported into the spotlight. when CD Projekt Red announced their next game.

However, for the Witcher fan-fiction writer SMiki55one of the two authors of Lynx school fan-fiction with Witcher190, the last few weeks haven’t been much more eventful than usual.

“At first I was worried that some people would confuse our fanfic with canon when looking for information about the new school, but luckily many long-time Witcher fans were able to notice that the information was posted on a fanon wiki, not the official,” says SMiki55. “A few days after the announcement, I changed the authors’ template so that the banner visible in each article indicates that the text is not canon.

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This might surprise outside observers, the expectation being that when an interesting (but obscure) fan-fiction article suddenly becomes intimately involved in one of the biggest gaming news stories of the year, causing a tidal wave of -tide of speculation from the public game and the media of all persuasions, similar attention would be paid to its perpetrators.

The story behind the Lynx School fan-fiction is certainly interesting and a bit ironic, given that SMiki55 admits to having been skeptical of the merits of adding more schools to the franchise when The Witcher 3 was released. , explaining that with the arrival of the game “Witcher schools seemed to increase in number, but the lore of many of them remained very superficial”.

This is a question that remains open in the opinion of SMiki55 as well. “To be honest, I think we’ve gone a little overboard with the dozens of new schools listed here (on the fanon wiki).” Though they also give these fanfics credit for remedying some of the lack of representation in Andrzej Sapkowski’s original Witcher books.

“If fans feel they want to be represented by a school inspired by Japan, India or Mesoamerica, why take it from them?”

Either way, how you might feel about your fanfiction instantly becoming the subject of global intrigue depends a lot on your personality. For some, it’s the kind of thing they’d dream of, going from an anonymous online fan to someone on the cutting edge of the latest news from one of your favorite game franchises, with journalists and fans making suddenly lining up to hear your thoughts on something you’re very passionate about.

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On the other hand, some people – who may be more introverted or simply enjoy writing fan fiction for their own use in games – might find this unexpected influx of attention on them intimidating or stressful. By having the critical eyes of the masses on the work, you may have contributed to the assumption that only a handful of fans would see it’s infuriating. That’s why it’s a little alarming that CD Projekt didn’t contact the fan-fiction writers beforehand, as SMiki55 explains: “I got the confirmation the same way as anyone from another: by reading the Eurogamer article that quoted Robert Malinowski.”

Given that they weren’t keen to contact the writers of the School of the Lynx fanfiction, it’s also surprising that CD Projekt didn’t choose to distance their next game from the fanfiction in the statement that he did. shortly after the announcement, confirming that the Witcher Medallion included in it was designed to look like a lynx – not a regular cat as many had assumed. We reached out to CD Projekt RED for comment before this article went live, but the developer declined to comment at this time.

Assuming that statement was made, in part, to throw water on the huge speculative fire that had erupted around the idea of ​​Ciri being the game’s protagonist, wouldn’t it have made sense for CD Projekt to confirm that the school of the Lynx is who will appear in his game will be different from that described in fan-fiction? Especially since many, including SMiki55, already think this will be the case.

If Ciri’s theory was quickly crushed for fear of disappointing fans when it turned out to be inaccurate, is taking the same step with the School of the Lynx theories just as obvious and necessary? The fact that he was not taken could be taken as lending credence to the idea that there will be at least some similarities between the two Lynx schools (i.e. the now official and the non official). If so, however, CD Projekt’s boat could be heading for troubled waters.

At first glance, the idea of ​​using existing fan fiction as the basis for a new game in the history of any franchise seems somewhat benign: fans get the satisfaction of contributing to the future of something. they love, and CD Projekt gets a new game based on ideas that their hardcore fans care about. But things get interesting when the idea of ​​compensation comes into play.

Even though fan-fiction writers like SMiki55 cannot (and do not claim to) own the branded material contained in their writings, surely if these are to be used in the same way as a traditional in-house game writer job would be, fan-fiction writers should be in line for some sort of compensation for their contribution to what will likely be a very profitable game. Just look what a mess Ubisoft got into with their whole Joseph Gordon-Levitt plan to crowdsource content for Beyond Good and Evil 2.

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For SMiki55, the idea of ​​the new Witcher game incorporating a Lynx school that mirrors fan-fiction is not appealing. “Honestly, I would be pretty disappointed, as I would expect CDPR to come up with a better story than our mediocre fanfic,” they explain. As for any potential payout or credit in the unlikely event that it does, SMiki55 adds “it’s up to me and CDPR (and Witcher190). Pious wishes in the public will not help.

Regardless of whether the fan-fiction writers involved would be compensated, using their work as the basis for a Witcher game would also likely have ramifications for the very idea of ​​fan-fiction writing, a a practice that has been shunned and belittled in mainstream circles for a long time. SMiki55 thinks these consequences could be both positive and negative.

“It seems conceivable that many fans, especially younger ones, will start writing their own stories and ideas in order to see them in future episodes of their favorite franchises. And that’s cool! Creativity is one of the skills crucial of the modern age, every spark must be nurtured and nurtured.There are best-selling book authors who grew out of fanfiction writers.

However, they also cite a few examples of increased fan involvement in major franchises going awry, alluding to the war between Games Workshop and Warhammer fans over the use of IP in fan animations and the treatment of actors like Kelly Marie Tran by Star Wars fans. . This last example is of particular concern to SMiki55, as “this threat of ‘militant fandom’ also hovers among Witcher fans, as evidenced by critics bombarding the CDPR or harassing the POC cast of The Witcher TV series.” I hope these chosen few don’t dominate the fandom of a franchise I love and care about.

Can fan fiction – and will it be – the face of expanding stories in the future?

Perhaps in the future, the career path from fan fiction writer to game writer will become more of an accepted norm, with game companies seeking more help from individuals with deep knowledge at the both from the lore of their RPGs and the desires of the fanbases they seek to satisfy. Or maybe it will turn into another controversial avenue of exploiting enthusiasts without giving them adequate compensation in an industry already full of anti-union leaders and anti-consumer practices.

Whatever happens in the future, at least for now, we can rejoice in the fact that CD Projekt may well have opened the doors for us to dream of a Witcher game in which stories like Dandelion and his Witcher friend share a bed somewhat awkwardly, Geralt being revealed to have had red hair before his mutations took effect, or the white wolf finally fulfilling his destiny of retiring from the witcher profession to become the daytime TV host of ” The Geralt Springer Show” can become a reality.

After all, as SMiki55 puts it: “Fanfiction is healthy, as long as it doesn’t evolve into sea wars.”

Jack L. Goldstein