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An Interview with Christian Faber. Sort of.


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I've discovered a rather curious post-doctoral research project by Dr. Benedikte Brincker of the University of Copenhagen. The paper itself is an interesting read, if you're into that sort of thing, but more relevant to BZP is the fact that Brincker quotes portions of an interview with someone she identifies as AD, the "designer of Bionicle." Given she specifies that he comes from Advance, it is likely that AD is in fact Christian Faber, seeing as Faber was one of the key players in BIONICLE's development, and the only member of the original story team to come from Advance.


Here are the portions of the interview that are copied into the paper. Brincker was mostly asking him about BIONICLE's relationship to it's fan community, what that meant, and how it could develop:


AD: ”You know, I am a big user of these documentary programmes so I cannot say that I have not seen stories from, what is it called, the Islands down south, where they sailed in canoes back and forth and so on, but I would like to say in this context that the story (Bionicle) has absolutely nothing to do with it…al though there are mountains with snow and there is a volcano, I guess it does not take a lot of imagination to get the idea that it (Bionicle) looks like a tropical island, or Hawaii or something like that. And, of course, their (the Maories) culture is fascinating and their language is different, you know, many of the names are inspired by the sound of that language…however, it is only a matter of linguistic inspiration…”


AD: “Its obvious that the internet is important, it brings the story together the most. This is also where you become a part of the community which is developing and the place where you feel that you can log on and chat. They (the users) are really asking some pretty weird and deep questions and there is really elaborate knowledge out there. In particular, there are two sites which are fan-sites and very serious. And those two, there are news – basically there are news every day – and there are chat rooms with galleries and all sorts of things. Sometimes we pick up things there before we get them from LEGO because users go out and take pictures, for instance, of American products which we have not seen yet and which suddenly appear. They update on sort of an underground level.”


Author: “This means that you actually use the consumer community?”


AD: “Absolutely.”


Author: “For inspiration?”


AD: For instance, a figure becomes popular, it may be a bi-figure we have in the story. But it becomes very popular and the users say that they would like that figure to have a more prominent position, for instance, in the comic…then at some point something may be written in which this figure gets a more important role. I think that the real fans experience that there is some kind of contact and that something is happening. Of course, we would like to develop that even more, you may say to create a proper community where you could really…anyway, we have a common cultural base consisting of these Bionicle things.”



AD: ”I mean a place where you log on daily and see if there are any questions for you, if you can contribute in some way, if there are questions in the community which you can help to answer…”



AD: ”Obviously, we would like – it would be the ultimately dream if you imagine – now I am going to describe utopia – if you (the user) were actually given a location…maybe it was already taken. However, the reason for this would be that another user somewhere in the world had already chosen it…So if you choose to log on late only lousy locations would be available…you could also imagine, if you did not visit your location at least once a week, it would be gone or downgraded…Simultaneously, if you logged on regularly and exchanged experiences and so on, you would help to shape the story. This would be the most fun…”



AD: ”Maybe it could get all religious and a bit scary, you know. What if you ( the user) think it is much more fun in that world than the real world. This could constitute a problem for LEGO, which actually wants what is best for your child…It would be problematic if you only wanted to be there. Then again, how do you find the balance? Things develop. What do we want to bring this to? You could ask the question: How engaging should this be? How much time should people spend on it?”



AD: ”If you imagine that you could have referenda. There would be a whole…there were people in all the locations and you could have a referendum…”


Author: ”You are talking about the users?”


AD: “Yes, if you imagine that some things had to be decided upon. For instance, if we (Bionicle) had something new, where, what should it be used for, should it be divided among people or used for making something new or what ever. And then you could call for a referendum. All the things that Bionicle consists of, within all kinds of fields – science and so on – the most fun would be if it could be developed into a method of education…”



AD: ”…it would be a project which is started via Bionicle. However, the point it not to go down and buy LEGO-bricks – basically. It it about teaching you a lot of things. Giving you a model of thinking about…but then again, is it because you want to influence the kids and make advertisement. It is…it becomes a moral question of whether we really want this. What if it suddenly gets so far and becomes so popular that you actually have power, you end up with this monster which is out of control.”

The paper appears to have been published as early as 2002.

Edited by Pereki
  • Upvote 2

believe victims. its actually not that hard, and youd look kind of bad if you were to, say, side with an abuser because theyre your friend

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I'm not quite catching on to what he's talking about in the second half, but from the sound of it, whatever it was never came to pass and we avoided an out of control monster :P 

This is really neat, and it's lovely how that idea about fans having an impact on the story and which characters become sets turned out to be a very accurate premonition, and that Greg got to be the one to log on daily and answer the community's questions. I love reading this sort of behind-the-scenes stuff that approaches things as a business model, very interesting. 

How did you find this?

pomegranate-banner-sm.png .

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