The Fan-Works Community of Kingdom Hearts

Fanart is courtesy of

Regardless of whether you love or hate them, ignore, indulge in them or compose them, you can’t stop fans from producing their own work based off of popular pieces. Kingdom Hearts, approaching 10 years in the running and enjoying a fan base in the millions, is far from being an exception.

For every game Nomura and his crew puts out, the fans produce a combined millions of hours of work into artwork, remixed music, small scale games and above all, roleplays and fan fictions. They’re doing everything from trying to creatively fill in holes and tell back stories we’ll probably never get to see, or envisioning some downright disturbing ideas that ignore many social conventions (I’m looking at you, RoxasXAxel fans).

So, why do people do this, and what does Kingdom Hearts offer for those reasons?

Experience Fulfillment

Life, generally speaking, is boring. We’re ordinary people with ordinary problems in an ordinary world. While we have our high moments and our low points, we will never have grand adventures in our lives-and realistically, we wouldn’t really want them, would we? But all the same, this is what drives us to dream and create, and to enjoy the dreams and creations of others.

Any time we read a book, watch a movie, listen to a good song or anything of the sort, we get to experience (from a safe distance) a life that is far more challenging and often times more thrilling than our own. We get to escape and live the life of those characters.

Video games take this to a whole new level, putting us in control of the lives and actions of the protagonist. Whether they live or die, succeed or fail, hope or despair, their lives literally rest in our hands, and it’s up to us to adeptly produce the happy ending (unless you’re a sadist in an open-ended RPG like Sims, in which case, you get to cackle as houses catch on fire). It sucks us in and lets us experience it so intensely that we may curse when Sephiroth stabs us. We’d even yell, “He killed me AGAIN!”, when realistically, it’s Sora who should end up looking like a sieve.

In short, video games are, in one way, a huge steaming pile of wish fulfillment.

Wish Fulfillment

A bitterly moving backstory...could you possibly have one for Marluxia? Fanart is courtesy of Renuski (

An ungodly amount of fan creations continue on the experience of fulfilling our every desire, as we wait to play the next game or find ourselves unsatisfied that Sora can’t shoot lasers out of his eyes that also happened to be made out of keyblades (which are also made of lasers).

We’ve all seen the picture of Riku making out with someone else’s character. We’ve read the story about the green-haired super-powered Keyblade wielder dressed like an Organization member, who saves the worlds where our heroes fail, and we’ve walked into the roleplay where Kairi, Namine and Olette are doing decidedly un-Disney-esque things (Okay, maybe I’m the only one unfortunate enough to come across that). These are extreme examples, but we all know that people continue these things to expand the fulfillment of their wishes in the way the game couldn’t or didn’t.

But I don’t think that’s the sole reason people do it. As much as we may enjoy the power trip that comes from being able to smack Maleficient down and continue on, I think just as many people finish a game of Kingdom Hearts (or any other popular media) and want to go on experiencing the atmosphere and mood of the game, to continue exploring its themes, both subtle and overt, to experience the journey again in a new story. No art medium exists purely as a way to satisfy our desires, instead they go on to expand our minds and give us a new sense of experience fulfillment.

When fan-created works go on to create the sense of experience fulfillment, it is a rare but wondrous thing. Whether it is a hypothetical story about Marluxia’s past that stays true to the character and gives us the same tingle the game did, the roleplay who’s progress shows the connection of hearts in unusual and unexpected ways, or the art piece of Sora fighting that clearly-never-happened-but-still-feels-like-it-could, people who sublimely emphasize the experience of the game over simple fulfillment create wonderful pieces that allow us to enjoy Kingdom Hearts without sending Tetsuya Nomura to the hospital for overwork.

A Door Between Worlds

A door between worlds- Naruto in Sora's clothes. Fanart is courtesy of arvalis (

So, what does Kingdom Hearts offer to the fan creator that other respected or popular pieces don’t? There are many answers for this, including the unique vocabulary and pieces of the KH Universe, but I think that the greatest thing offered is how Kingdom Hearts connects a wide variety of ideas and makes it possible to explore them.

For example, the story of Aladdin and his attempts to have a better life than he has aren’t the same as Jack Skellington’s struggles with understanding foreign concepts, but both stories explore the theme of finding your place in the world and being true to yourself. Two totally and completely different worlds intermix and combine to lead to some fantastic stories by themselves. Add in the themes and story of the whole Kingdom Hearts universe alongside each world’s broad cultures, mythos, issues and morals, and there are a lot of stories that you can tell, each stuffed with unique characters, plots, and events. This maintains the feel of the games while exploring all new elements and emotions if done well. It’s a rich sandbox to which we apply our creativity.

More importantly, I think Kingdom Hearts appeals to us as people because most of its major characters are the ordinary people with ordinary lives to begin with. Nomura himself has said that Sora is still just a 15-year old kid, who enjoys and dislikes the same things as we do, and that draws us in and opens a door for our own personal experiences in his universe. Kingdom Hearts serves as a door between our worlds, where we can just be ourselves and fully true experience a world of wonder and excitement.

…Or maybe some people just want to be rear-kicking, zipper-wearing, keyblade wielding Burton-ites who can shoot dark fire out of our eyeballs.

Kingdom Hearts: The Lost Roads

That was the site I was working on in the year 2008 before I left to serve a mission for my church. A roleplaying game site, my goal with it was to get players to tell stories about how their characters grow from average people (for your character’s home world- Wonderlanders clearly don’t fit under anyone else’s standard of normal) into the complex heroes, anti-heroes and villains of Kingdom Hearts in a gaming environment that strived to stay true to the games in both information and atmosphere.

It was one of the most intense RPG projects I had ever worked on, using techniques and approaches I had never done before while fulfilling a lead developer role for the first time. For a bunch of amateurs, I think we were doing really good, having received some good reviews from game sites that reviewed such things. Sadly, it never took off the ground, and my time these days are primarily dedicated to college and trying to get a start in the writing field, but my time working on that site stays with me, and it’s my greatest piece of KH geekiness.

What Kingdom Hearts ‘Fanworks’ have you made?

So, How about you? What have you created that’s set in the Kingdom Hearts Universe? An artwork of your character? A story about what might happen in KH 3? A roleplay, a remix of a song, a comic, etc?

Do you think fan creations contribute to the universe or detract from it? Do you believe in experience fulfillment, or do you think it’s all just selfish wishing? Talk about this and more down below in the comments of nye norske casino.

“The Fan-Works Community of Kingdom Hearts” was written by Arcane. Each Monday, we publish a Guest Blog from a member of the KH & Gaming Community.
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