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*various grunting / shouting sounds*
That’s right, this week, we’re talking about fans of that long-running much beloved Nintendo series: The Legend of Zelda! Why are fans so fixated on the timeline, and what is it exactly that reels in fans both new and old? All that and more with this week’s special guest, Andy Spiteri of Zelda Informer / Zelda Dungeon!

…And that’s it for this season! We’ll be taking a brief holiday break and come back in the new year with all new, exciting episodes about fans and fandoms you’ve probably never even heard of! Thanks for listening and stay tuned!

Where can I learn more about Andy?

You can learn more about Andy Spiteri through his work at Zelda Informer / Zelda Dungeon!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Origins:

The Legend of Zelda is a high-fantasy action-adventure video game series created by Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. It is primarily developed and published by Nintendo, although some portable installments have been outsourced to Capcom, Vanpool and Grezzo. The series’ gameplay incorporates elements of action, adventure and puzzle-solving games.

The series centers on Link, the playable character and chief protagonist. Link is often given the task of rescuing Princess Zelda and the kingdom of Hyrule from Ganon, who is the principal antagonist of the series; however, other settings and antagonists have appeared in several titles. The games’ plots commonly involve a relic known as the Triforce, a set of three omnipotent golden triangles. The protagonist in each game is usually not the same incarnation of Link, but a few exceptions exist.

Since the original The Legend of Zelda was released in 1986, the series has expanded to include 19 entries on all of Nintendo’s major game consoles, as well as a number of spin-offs. An American animated TV series based on the games aired in 1989 and individual manga adaptations commissioned by Nintendo have been produced in Japan since 1997. The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s most prominent and successful franchises, selling over 80 million copies as of 2017.
Wikipedia - The Legend of Zelda

Fandom Activity / Interest
In general, interest in the series has been on the decline, by search traffic: Until March 2017 (Release of Breath of the Wild), interest in the series was about half as much as in 2014. There have been some notable spikes in interest in December 2006 (Release of Twilight Princess), December 2009 (Release of Spirit Tracks), December 2011 (Approximate release of Skyward Sword).

Size of Fandom:
Using available data, we can make some rough approximations of the number of Zelda fans:

  • “19 entries on all of Nintendo’s major game consoles … over 80 million copies sold”: this puts a loose upper-bound at 80 million fans, and a lower bound at about 4 million fans (80m / ~20 entries)

Fan Demographics:
As it turns out, Zelda Informer ran a Zelda fan survey for a few years; the latest set of data from 2015 gives us something to go off of:

  • Gender: 74% male, 24% female, 1% other, 1% prefer not to answer
  • Age: Largest group of respondents was age 18-24 (49%); almost 75% of respondents were under the age of 24

Plus, some other interesting results:

  • First Zelda game played: Ocarina of Time (39%), Link to the Past (14%), Legend of Zelda (14%), Wind Waker (7%), Twilight Princess (7%)
  • 90% of Zelda fans consider themselves gamers
  • The top three most owned consoles were: Wii (91%), Nintendo DS (82%), Nintendo 3DS (80%)
  • Top three most played Zelda games: Twilight Princess (93%), Ocarina of Time (92%), Majora’s Mask (87%)
  • Worst Zelda game experience: Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love (91%)
  • Most important parts of Zelda games: Story (47%), Exploration (30%)
  • Favourite Art Style: Twilight Princess (56%)
  • Would you play a Zelda game starring a female hero? Yes (65%), Indifferent (23%), No (12%)
  • Should future games include a gender option for link? Yes (27%), Indifferent (33%), No (40%)

Around the world:
According to Google Trends, the top 10 regions searching for the Legend of Zelda are: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Japan, Chile, France, and Canada (United States is 13th).

Fanfics:
Archive of our own has over 4000 fanfics related to the Legend of Zelda franchise. Some interesting data about those fanfics:

  • Top 3 Categories represented: M/M (1610), F/M (1584), Gen (1166)
  • Top 3 Largest individual franchise represented: Breath of the Wild (1297), Ocarina of Time (805), Twilight Princess (629)
  • Top 3 Characters represented: Link (2837), Zelda (1697), Ganondorf (855)
  • Top 3 Relationships represented: Link / Zelda (787), Link / Prince Sidon (465), Link / Shiek (235)
  • Top 3 Tags represented: Fluff (520), Angst (400), Romance (300)

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

Z
What is the oldest fan-made timeline?

G
When did people start caring about what the Zelda timeline was?

T
Is there a band that only has instruments from the Zelda games?

The Verdict

T is in.

G is out. Most fascinated with timeline.

Z is in.

Andy is in. Loved Zelda since being a kid.

This week’s spotlight

Zeldathon
The Zeldathon marathons all of the games of the Legend of Zelda franchise, however long it takes, twice a year, to raise money for Direct Relief — an organization devoted to improving the health and lives of people affected by poverty and emergencies. So far, they have raised over $1.5 million since 2009.

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

  • If you want to help us to create more amazing fannish content, become a patron on Patreon; even as little as a dollar a month pledge really helps us out!
  • If you want to be part of our podcast (or just want to check us out), we record our podcast LIVE on twitch.tv every monday at 20:00 Eastern Time!
  • For all the latest updates, check us out on Facebook or Twitter
  • To see the latest hijinx from our conventions or even our daily lives and adventures, check us out on Instagram
  • For our latest convention updates, Let’s Plays, and other in-real-life video, check out our YouTube channel
  • We’re also on iTunes, and Google Play, and would love it if you could leave a review and rating!
  • if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try nick@thenickscast.com
  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
  • Everything is thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.

Ahem

We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.

Thanks

Special thanks to Andy for taking time out of his schedule to chat with us about his experiences with Zelda!

Credits

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Music / Sound

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