Survivor is an intriguing game of social complexity that is unforgiving and relentless to its players. Being a fan of this franchise, it was a simple choice to follow Brendon Fishwicks’ Random Reality Recaps for the past few months and his process in creating, curating and aggregating content on his online blog. This semester, Brandon iterated his trajectory by honing in on niche ‘Survivor’ based content applying it to a ‘Survivor Fan’ frame. The practice of curating content which related to such a specific niche could not only be a skill outside of this project but could morph into a monetizable venture.
In reviewing this project, I will not only enjoy the content being produced but can understand how to create content for a niche audience effectively and translate this into my own project.
With a clear knowledge about the Survivor franchise, Brendon doesn’t have to utilise time researching, only watching the episode and creating his content by remixing it into a written form. Originally, Brendon wanted to create recaps of each episode to reflect on game-plays. In the nature of prototyping, he created an article recap from a past season of Survivor which aired in 2005 and a power rankings of the current season of Australian Survivor.
The analytical nature of this project panders directly to an extremely complex niche of survivor fans leaving very little room for outliers of the niche to be enthralled by it. Looking critically at the specific characters and alliances creates something which is valuable for the Survivor community as a whole instead of creating a mainstream form of media as framing a project in complexity attracts discussion and outsider opinions.
In the specifics of this project, creating written posts is a unique form of media in this niche with most other forms of content stemming from a podcast (Rob Has a Podcast) or video background (Peridiam). A good step forward would be to create other forms of media along with these blogs to promote discussion.
I believe that this project would have benefited from having a separate blog or website to post from, being purely driven by Survivor or reality television content. It would act as a central hub where users could find all related content as well as links to other forms of content. Having the content on a personal blog detracts from the credibility of the writer, resulting in the audience perceiving the writer as a ‘normie’.
More consistent content could have been posted weekly to maintain an audience to drive discussion about past articles from this blog.
UTILITY AND TRAJECTORY
With five attempts at iteration, I believe this project has a healthy trajectory to move forward from. However, more experiments with different types of content could be made.
The project has clear utility in entertainment and analysis for the community it is being created for in attempting to promote feedback and discussion. Future prospects and trajectory of this project could develop into other forms of reality television articles, recaps and predictions of similar television shows.
With the goal of ‘providing a medium for discussion to be had’ from the project pitch, I believe that Brendon has worked from his first blog post well onto his last in closing the feedback look and opening up possible new forms of iteration and experimentation with his work.
From the pitch, it was clear what the utility, trajectory and concept of this project would be with planned posts to be created about the current season of Australian Survivor and past seasons of the American counterpart. The first iteration of this project involved remixing the idea of a recap by reviewing a past season of Survivor (from 2005) and creating a power rankings list of the current Australian Survivor contestants.
Results from this prototyping gave an insight that a season from 2005 and a season from 2018 have completely different aesthetics, concepts, frames and even audience. The older post had a less mainstream audience than the current season, being extremely complex for the form of media being created. As such, the current post was doing much better than the older season post as it has little relevance to today’s audience in the context of current Survivor gameplay. In simpler terms, the television show has evolved from 2005 to 2018 and therefore, past seasons have lost relevance in today’s Survivor fandom.
In the coming weeks, little progression was made with different content but with no difference to the ideation, I strongly believe that at this point, there either should have been more research or prototyping with forms of content such as Survivor Winners Rankings, Fantasy Survivor (attributing points to castaways in their place or position) or consistent power rankings. Reddit is a great place to share the media, however, more attempts at infiltrating the Australian Survivor Fan Facebook groups could have been made to share content and generate more discussion as the project has had views but little engagement thus far.
During the pitch, the goal of users giving feedback was set with an aim of wanting people to use the recaps from RRR as discussion pieces to drive analysis from other sources. In the curation, there was a switch in focus to analysis of newer seasons as past Survivor episodes did not achieve the goal of generating discussion. I believe that this is a timeliness issue. In the future, Brendon could do comparisons of players from pasts seasons to current seasons to bring some relevance into posts which involve older seasons (there is a list of more ideas shared in conversations with Brendon below).
Brendon’s curation involved getting the seminar to live tweet along to key Survivor episodes and moments. In the future, he hopes to use these for one of his blog posts. This exercise further demonstrated that individuals who are apart of his niche would take value in Survivor based content, while others do not understand the value.
After the curation, I decided to directly contact Brendon to see how his project was going.
I gave him some suggestions on content that he could possibly generate apart from his written recaps and power rankings, also offering my time to assist him in making a podcast (as that would also interest me to work on). This was also the week that his post Australian Survivor – Season 3 – The Godfather Reigns Supreme – Top 9 Power Rankings gained the most feedback, traction, views and discussion generated.
Through refining the currently uploaded posts, Brendon was able to create a feedback loop which resulted in an epiphany of focusing on current seasons as these generated the discussion part of the goals of utility that were put in place from the project pitch. This form of content was also the simplest to create being short ranking lists of contestants and predictions of where the plot of the show would turn next. GIFs and other forms of media were inserted to break apart text and further engage the audience.
Before the project BETA in week 11, I decided to finally touch base again.
A new iteration was on its way being a Survivor: Heroes vs Villains (season 20) recap. The iteration process here was made clear as Brendon attempted to re-frame past ideas and test their worth. This is an extremely intelligent decision and ideas like this can be used when current survivor seasons aren’t airing. Reasons this post may do well compared to the first past season recap are:
- It is a more recent season.
- Covered in controversy.
- A well rounded cast.
- Still a topic of discussion among the community.
If the complex audience of the Survivor niche can be identified here (in past seasons), there is the prospect of potential of discussion and feedback on these posts. As the last two articles were posted, I attempted to help generate discussion by posting on my own twitter with little avail. However, Ryan Brink (an Australian Survivor Podcaster) did engage through this tweet.
The BETA presentation proved that the utility and goal of this project should be achieved through creating and aggregating content pertaining to current seasons of Survivor. Maintaining this developmental trajectory in regards to engagement with the established audience is a good step forward. The next step is how to expand and grow from here. I believe that:
In the future, posts will be from the current American season of Survivor, not only are they relevant but have a larger audience than Australia’s equivalent. I look forward to engaging with Brendon’s work in the future to assess his predictions against my own.
In order to truly transcend this project to create a well informed and structured blog, I believe that a selection of the below suggestions could be applied to the ideation and curation of RRR.
- More iteration, refining and prototyping with new ideas.
- Become more complex and niche – talk about the intricacies of the game, become very complex as the medium lends itself to become analytical (as mentioned in beta that feedback he was getting was that people enjoyed the longer and analytical versions of his posts).
- Move into other forms of similar reality television – With this developmental trajectory, i believe it could transcend the niche of survivor and cultivate into other similar television show franchises with similar niches such as Big Brother and The Amazing Race.
- Create a variety of innovative posts (more prototyping, more iterations) – Survivor Winners Rankings, Fantasy Survivor (attributing points to castaways in their place or position) or consistent power rankings. Fantasy scenarios are extremely popular among other forms of reality television shows such as Uckey Lee’s ‘What if ____’ series on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
- Monitise – As of yet there is no way to full gain income or monitise this project. Google Ads, utilising a donation button widget on WordPress or Patreon account may suffice here to attempt to convert content into coin.
- If time is an issue, try to make them shorter without losing value or meaningful analysis.
In following this project, I have identified the immense passion of Brendon and his love of the Survivor series. Although the developmental trajectory is still quite stagnant, there is a clear audience for this type of content which can be transformed into other niches. I do believe that this is an excellent starting point for a portfolio and project to continue outside of university to better the writing and creativity of Brendon in the future.
Analysing this project in comparison to my own, I can identify similarities in the niche’s that we are working in. Not only does meaningful content have to be created, but we have to appear informed about our niche to gain credibility and avoid looking like an outsider to the niche. Essentially, we have to appear as the best at our craft and become fully in line with our audience, falling into the starter-pack at some point.