The Curse of Gundam Wing Fan-Fiction Addiction
by D.C. Logan
Once a relatively rare disorder, Gundam Wing Fan-Fiction Addiction, or GWFFA, has risen to new levels due to the ease of accessibility of Internet mail lists, extensive archives for fan fiction, and the rapid increase of personal and author-driven websites. The number of Gundam Wing fan-fiction addicts is currently at record levels.
Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, living in or creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends, family, work, school, and the slowly dying plants in the living room. They spend hours debating assorted and sundry relationship pairings, merits of different styles of writing, and favorite rants. They trade website URLs, prowl through thousands of links, read recommendation pages, and buy doujinshi with funds previously reserved for college tuition or next month's car payment.
Self-test for GWFFA: How many of these apply to you?
If you answered "yes" to three or more of these questions, you have symptoms of GWFFA. An affirmative response to five or more indicates a serious problem.
1. You read fiction when depressed to cheer yourself up.
2. You go on reading binges where you read all day or night.
3. You read early in the morning, before school or work.
4. You print stories to carry around so you can continue to read when off-line.
5. You avoid friends or family obligations in order to read fan fiction.
6. You take vacation or sick days from school or work and spend the day catching up on mailing lists or reading through archives.
7. At a party or when you have company in your home, you will often slip off unnoticed to read or check the latest post to your lists.
8. Reading has made you seek haunts and companions that you would otherwise avoid.
9. You neglect personal hygiene or household chores until you finish a story.
10. You spend money meant for necessities on a faster modem or cable connection instead.
11. You attempt to circumvent a password-protected site to read the fiction archived there.
12. You start your own website, recommendation list, email list, or archive.
13. Most of your friends are heavy fan-fiction readers.
14. You instantly recognize the pen names and email addresses of more than eighty percent of your best friends (and have no idea what their real names are, where they live, or how old they may be—and it doesn't affect your friendship in any way).
15. You have broken down emotionally while reading a story and had to explain to friends, family, or co-workers why you were crying.
16. You wept or become angry or irrational because of something you read on a list.
17. You sometimes wish you did not read so much.
18. Sometimes you think your fiction reading is out of control.
19. Lime, lemon, citrus, and enough lumber dimensions to confuse the guy at Home Depot (1x2/3x4/2x4x6)—if it all makes sense to you—you've been reading too much fan fiction.
20. You have joined author lists or written to authors to solicit more material.
21. You commission artwork to match the stories you read.
22. You go on vacation and haul the computer along—or you leave it behind and need to take an equal number of days off after your vacation to catch up on your reading.
23. You immediately understand any and all references that relate to "Episode Number ___" that you encounter in fiction headings.
24. You have Pocky or Gummy candy on your desk to enhance your reading experience and keep you focused and awake.
25. You play the soundtracks from the series in the background for the same reason.
26. You watched both subbed and dubbed versions of the series to better understand the fiction you read.
27. You know enough Japanese to understand the occasional words that crop up in fan fiction, you can watch the series without reading the subtitles, and you're thinking about learning enough Kanji to finally be able to read your doujinshi.
28. Email just isn't fast enough. You start to lounge in chatrooms to discuss fan fiction or call friends directly. (Is your monthly long-distance phone bill over $100? —take an extra point.)
Related Disorder #1: The Gundam Wing Fan-Fiction Author
Within the sordid world of fan fiction addiction, the lowest circle belongs to those sufferers who have thrown their lives and hopes away to actually write the stuff (you know who you are). These poor wretched souls while away endless hours in front of their keyboards composing grand epics involving cartoon characters ranging in age from 15 to 20—many involving risque and outlandish behaviors.
Related Disorder #2: The Gundam Wing Fan-Fiction Artist
This is usually a milder form of the addiction. Artists typically have more of their lives based in reality than authors do. But they still spend countless hours sketching characters along the borders of whatever page they happen to have in front of them, or scanning and applying Photoshop filters to their best advantage. If you have a room dedicated as a Gundam Wing studio, or purchased a faster computer to run more advanced software, you are in danger of sliding into the GWFFA abyss. If you have hit the point where commission sales require you to submit a tax return—consider yourself beyond all redemption.
Related Disorder #3: The Gundam Wing Doujinshi Collector
The second lowest circle belongs to those who scrounge the Internet auction sites and have to download new character sets into their browsers to view pages in Japanese. They do this so they can fulfill their uncontrollable urge to spend vast amounts of cash to purchase foreign money orders and have comic and art books shipped to them from all over the world. They store their prizes in a box or cabinet that is hidden under their bed so their parents/spouse/roommate can't find them. And if they're lucky, they'll never have to explain to someone why they spent hundreds of dollars on books that they will never be able to read. So if your current collection numbers more than twenty, if "circle" means something to you and you can name more than five of them, and you collect by the pairings—you qualify as a serious case.
Related Disorder #4: The Creator Of Websites
These poor souls spend endless hours running the same queries through different search engines in the pursuit of new and interesting authors to archive or websites to link to. They learned the essentials of HTML and dedicate the vast majority of their free and not-so-free time constantly updating, correcting, and searching for new and better material to add to their sites. If you maintain more than one site, or if you have your own GW-related domain name—you probably have no life outside of the fandom.
You may be dealing with a life-threatening problem if one or more of the following applies:
1. You named your child, pet, car, or other significant inanimate objects after a character in the series.
2. All of your personal passwords are Gundam Wing related.
3. You track down all other work done by your favorite voice actors—both Dub and Sub versions.
4. The "Law of Fives" takes over your life. Five characters on an unrelated show, five guys at the table next to you at Denny's, five kittens in a box, five cars in the parking lot—and you feel compelled to assign a specific pilot to each one.
5. You start to dress as your favorite character.
6. Your family/friends/co-workers know a fair bit about Gundam Wing and perhaps even some of your favorite authors and Internet friends—and they've never watched the series.
7. You travel great distances, use all of your available vacation/sick time, and outlay great sums of cash just for the simple opportunity to meet favorite authors, artists, close Internet friends, and drop huge wads of cash on doujinshi you never knew existed at the regional anime conventions.
For partners, parents, and friends of the afflicted:
1. Talk to the GWFFA victim in a loving and supportive manner. Let them see that you are concerned for their well being. However, you are not going to send them to Japan or to enroll them in the regional anime club as this may escalate the affliction or increase the intensity of the symptoms.
2. Face the issue: Tell them what you know, and how: "I found this comic book with pictures of naked boys hidden in the box under the rollerblades in the upstairs guest bedroom. How long has this been going on?"
3. Try to show your support in another way. Do your level best to interest them in a less-popular fandom or in a (gasp) live-action series. Buy them musical instruments or a car.
4. Do what you have to do. Unplug the computer; cancel the Internet service; ban the purchase of any Gundam Wing–related merchandise. Destroy all the DVDs, VHS tapes, figurines, manga, doujinshi, music, posters, and assorted keychains, pins, and sundry articles with big-eyed animated faces. It will hurt them; and they might leave you—but it may be the only way to preserve that little bit of sanity they have left.