Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Spotlight: The Two Guys from Andromeda

If you've been keeping up with my articles on GameCola or listening to the latest video game buzz, you'll know that Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy, the Two Guys from Andromeda (of Space Quest fame), are making a new adventure game. This was the most exciting video game news I'd heard since word of Mega Man 9 first hit the streets--I signed up for every fan page and mailing list the Two Guys had, and eagerly awaited every update.

If you know anything about the way I normally operate when I get wind of a new entertainment project of interest, this might sound a little uncharacteristic of me. Once I know something exists, or is going to exist, I tune out all news and spoilers unless I'm particularly confused or concerned about the finished product. Under normal circumstances, I'd be excited to know that the Two Guys were together again and working on a game.

However, I'm the biggest Space Quest fan I know. In fact, I'm one of the only Space Quest fans I know. I'm aware of a few people who've played some of the series, but any mention of the games is usually in passing, and because I brought up the topic to begin with. When you feel like the lone champion of a cause, it's not unusual to be all the more zealous about it to keep the interest alive; both for this reason and because I enjoy the games enough to be a zealous fanboy to begin with, I've managed to get this notion in my head that I'm some hotshot Biggest Fan Ever.

I'm fully aware that I'm not the Biggest Fan Ever. I never made my own fangame (though I thought about it) or dressed up in costume as one of the characters (though I thought about it), and I didn't hang around on the Space Quest message boards for over a decade in the hopes that this long-dead series would miraculously be revived (though...actually, I'm not much of a message board guy, so I never thought about it). But now that Space Quest is suddenly back with a vengeance--the SQ2 VGA remake, Incinerations, Vohaul Strikes Back, and now the supposedly unrelated Two Guys project, all in a matter of months--I am overwhelmed at the mere thought of being the Biggest Fan Ever, because there's no way I'd ever come close to meeting the requirements.

The Two Guys' official website is bursting with content that I can't keep up with. Podcast interviews. Weekly contests. Minecraft levels built to look like Space Quest locations. "Let's Play" videos of Scott and Mark playing through all six Space Quest games together. I'm unaccustomed to being on the front lines of a developing fandom, and I simply don't know how to process this much geek input. Even when I was at the height of my involvement with my YouTube channel and fully immersed in Mega Man, I wasn't just being a huge fanboy, but a mentor and an entertainer and a friend. I've never thrown myself purely into the consumer side of a fandom the way some people have, and it's almost sickening to hear the real Biggest Fans Ever talking about how profoundly comprehensive their knowledge and experience of the Space Quest fandom has been...up to and including being on a first-name basis with the developers.

What's striking about this so-called "Space Venture" project is how close to the fans the people responsible are. The cult of celebrity too often elevates people to a godlike status, and it's almost unsettling to have the Two Guys who are so revered by their fans offering so many opportunities for fan participation in the development of this project. Maybe it's the dawn of a new era where celebrities are just regular people with cool jobs, or maybe it's the start of an unhealthy obsession with deified developers who have deigned to step down from their crystal palace in the clouds to walk among the morals for a spell. Either way, I feel barely qualified to be along for the ride.

More and more of my fandoms are going mainstream, and mainstream is going more and more social. I'm losing my identity as a geek because now everybody's a geek, and because there are bigger geeks only a few clicks away. I'm not longing for the days of being ostracized for my interests, but I'm starting to wish that all the time I've spent as a consumer of fandoms still gave me the same amount of geek cred that I used to have. It seems you can't just like anything anymore; you have to live it to be a true fan.

I'm excited that Space Quest is alive and well, and that the Two Guys are back together again on a new project. I don't think I could ever be devoted enough to go beyond just plain "excited," however. Instead of throwing myself wholeheartedly into being a follower of the "Space Venture" project, I'll show my support the way I always have--by playing the game when it comes out, and by participating in whatever capacity suits me until then. For now, I'm content to check in here and there to see what's new, and that's good enough for me. I'm not the Biggest Fan Ever--and I don't have to be to enjoy the fandom for myself.

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