Video game fans are some of the most active fans in popular culture. Be it fan art, fan fiction, game modifications or, in this case, a game encyclopedia, there are times that video game fans can be very dedicated to their purpose.
So, what happens when multiple audiovisual franchises have their own companion books or official encyclopedias, but Mortal Kombat, one of the biggest fighting game series, does not? The fans create one!
As a lifelong fan of Mortal Kombat, I have been following various Mortal Kombat pages, groups and on-line activities for years. It is true that fans of Mortal Kombat have been very active with their user-generated content, like sprite comics, homemade games, artwork, videos and many more. Recently, I got my hands on a draft of the Book of Souls.
The Book of Souls (or Kombatpedia) is an effort by Uppercut Editions to pitch their fan-made project to NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. for an actual Mortal Kombat encyclopedia. The editors worked hard for years to collect the data, consult with key people of the game development team for information, write, and put together the book.
The dedication of this project is evident in every page. The 3+ years of data collection, writing, and editing of the book have bore results that will satisfy every Mortal Kombat fan: from the newcomer to the diehard follower. Within the pages of the book, I found information about the games, the characters, the arenas, the movies and much more that I did not know it existed. I have to admit that since the book is not yet finalised, there is still work to be done when it comes to some of the content, but also with sentence structure and vocabulary. But as with every fan project, there are always opportunities for improvement.
I have been impressed by this attempt, and I hope somehow Mortal Kombat fans will one day receive all the important knowledge about the series kollekted (see what I did there?) in one place. After all, fan efforts sometimes can have a significant impact to the industry. We should not forget that Ermac started as a rumour, which was turned into a product of fannish mass demand, and finally became an actual –and important- character of the game. Even if not picked up though, this love letter to Mortal Kombat is a noteworthy effort.
The book is not yet available for mass circulation, but you can have a look at the current version on-line. The editors hope that in time NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. will approve it.
Click here to see my conference presentation about Mortal Kombat and franchise shaping.