The story I’m telling you isn’t real. But it did happen.
The story I’m telling you is, like nearly all fanfiction, a derivative work. Some of the story was developed in the course of a few save game files of Manager Career Mode in the FIFA video game franchise. I filled in the blanks on the rest. The games I’m describing here did happen— including a crucial moment in one game toward the end. Nathan is, in effect, a Mary Sue character. (Or a Marty Sue, depending on where you’re at with the gender binary.)
I didn’t plan for this story to develop, in the same way that I never planned to start playing FIFA. I never considered anything I was doing with this silly sports video game to be creating fanfiction. Nor did I think that creating fanfiction based ostensibly on sports- despite English football being probably one of the most popular media franchises in the world- was really possible, in the sense that it created either compelling stories for an audience or emotional catharsis for the auteur. Yet I found myself not only spending hours playing FIFA, but I realized I was also creating an elaborate narrative around my gameplay that largely existed in my own head. This narrative was based around a character I created primarily to fill a need in my squad that didn’t exist in the transfer market and found myself developing an emotional attachment to.
Though I didn’t acknowledge what I was doing as creating fanfic at the time, I realized in hindsight it was fulfilling much of the same functions that fanfic often does for their creators. It let me engage critically with a story I already followed and loved (in this case, English football). It allowed me to explore what I want out of this story, and in a broader sense, stories in general. And, while not every fanfiction creator does so for this reason, it provided an emotional release and source of comfort at a time in my life when I sorely needed it.