Skip to main content

Frantic Fanfic is a party game about writing terrible fan fiction

Party games are one of the go-to gaming options when it comes to groups of friends looking to play together — especially during the last year of the COVID-19 pandemic. From titles like Super Mario Party and Overcooked to the ever-popular Jackbox series, there is a growing number of party games out there. A recent arrival on the party game scene aims to offer players a creative writing option in the form of Frantic Fanfic.

Under development since December 2020 and launched in April 2021, Frantic Fanfic is all about getting the creative writing juices flowing for groups of two or more. Self-described as “a fandom-frenzied supercharged mess of exposition,” this party game was born out of a love of pop culture, convention-going, and fandom by developers Zee and Michael.

Springing up out of an effort to bring back some of the energy of going to conventions that was effectively lost during the pandemic, there’s something special to be found in Frantic Fanfic.

Frantic Fanfic’s origin

Frantic Fanfic started out from creator Zee’s initial idea of having a few three-minute presentation nights (a game that really blew up in popularity during quarantine in which you create a PowerPoint on a topic, usually of your choosing, and present it to a group) with friends, with a twist. The concept was that instead of knowing the topic beforehand, Zee and friends would create topics, shuffle them, pull from a list, and then need to put together the presentation beforehand.

This presentation night eventually morphed into the first online version of Frantic Fanfic that made use of Google Docs, a Facebook event, tracking time on a phone, and Zee manually sending out links to friends. In this form, Frantic Fanfic was a game where several friends would write the beginning, middle, and end of a story before all parts would come together and they would read each story out loud. A few days after this event, Zee was hit with the idea of a website or an app.

“I was staring at the ceiling thinking ‘Damn what a great time that game night was … when can we do it again, how can I make it better’?” Zee tells Digital Trends. “And then it hit me. Oh my God. It could be a website. An app. A something. We could develop this. And so we did! We’ve been developing Frantic Fanfic since December 2020 and it’s been a fun ride ever since.”

A opening menu of Frantic Fanfic.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Alongside wanting to have fun with friends, Zee was also missing the ability to attend conventions during the COVID-19 pandemic. “So I thought really hard about the things that I missed from conventions,” says Zee. “What panels I missed. What the vibe was like. I really missed the bad fan fiction reading panels, which I thought were hilarious. Bad writing plus over-dramatic delivery is very, very funny. If I could combine the presentation parties with the bad fanfic reading panels somehow … I feel like that would be a fun thing to do!”

Michael, Zee’s boyfriend and a software developer, makes up the other half of the two-person team behind Frantic Fanfic. After Zee put together what would evolve into the completed version of the game, she and Michael ultimately decided on creating a website.

“We eventually settled on a website because coding an app was so time-intensive just to get onto all the various app distribution networks,” Zee says. “Then came the concept of the visuals. I’m not a website designer by trade so it was a lot of back and forth and learning what we could and couldn’t do there on the fly. Michael is a back-end developer so he learned all the front-end pieces you see in the game within the last eight months. I made mockups in Photoshop and Michael would translate them to actual working code. The first time we saw text inputted into the page and then carried through to the next section was magical.”

So, what do you get when you pair a love of fan fiction, the humor and chaos you can often find at late-night convention panels, and an idea together? You get Frantic Fanfic.

What is Frantic Fanfic?

Thanks to the work that Zee and Michael have put into the game, Frantic Fanfic is a user-friendly game to get right into with friends. The quick-start guide is chock full of helpful information on how to get started playing quickly with a longer version available, as well as a streamer-specific guide.

But at its most basic, Frantic Fanfic allows a group of friends to each write down character names that will then be shuffled around, names will be chosen by the group, and then each player will be prompted to write a different section of several fan fictions using the chosen characters under a time limit. Once every section of each fan fiction has been written, the group will then be prompted to read each out loud.

An example of fan fiction written in Frantic Fanfic.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Winning a round comes down to the reactions that each fan fiction garners from the group playing. During the part of the game where you read what you’ve written out loud, members of the group can react with as many reactions as they’d like. Frantic Fanfic really leans into the collaborative side of things, even when determining which player has won the game.

The reading section of Frantic Fanfic is where a lot of the energy that the creators were looking to recapture from bad fan fiction panels comes in full force. Much like in live panels where bad fan fiction is read out loud, players of Frantic Fanfic then get to read their own monstrosity that they all just wrote together. This often results in laughter and chaos that feels extremely reminiscent of a late-night convention panel. “We had a session go on for three hours and by the end of it people started to lose their voices from laughing so hard,” Zee said.

With three game modes currently available (Standard, OTP version, and Self Insert), there are a number of different ways to play. Four different timing modes are available to choose from, such as lightning round and a more leisurely option, which can affect gameplay even more.

Zee offered some tips for new players of Frantic Fanfic. “Make the most of it by inviting some people that you know are into fun party games and willing to try something new and get a little creative and silly! We find that the best games are played with about four to eight players, so you can get a really good shuffle in there. But you can play between two to 16 players if you really want to.”

Frantic Fanfic’s future

While Frantic Fanfic is still new on the indie party game scene, that hasn’t stopped Zee and Michael from working on updates for the game. Shared to the game’s blog, a recent update has included some adjustments to the settings screen and, by popular demand, the enabling of a two-player mode.

Since it is a two-person team, updates are done in Zee and Michael’s free time. Zee shared that both work full time, so updates will come as time and energy allow. But, a new mode is coming soon alongside the three game modes that are currently available.

“We’re introducing another mode soon – one where you only see the previous part [the fan fiction section that has been written] and all other parts become hidden while the game is active. We still don’t have the name for this mode yet, there’s a bit of a debate because it’s kinda broken telephone, but not really as nothing is being repeated. It’s more like lost pages out of a diary, trying to continue where someone left off mysteriously sort of thing.”

Alongside a number of future updates that include an interactive audience feature that will allow people to vote on their favorite stories as they view streamed games on platforms like Twitch, Zee’s hopes for Frantic Fanfic are high.

Testimonials from Frantic Fanfic's website.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Hopes for the future include making a physical copy of the game, making a bunch of different modes, and also seeing a “big streamer” play it live with a huge audience would be extremely cool!” says Zee. “I’d also really love to take this game on the road to a bunch of different cons, COVID protocols pending.”

With a very positive response from players so far, even reaching a goal set by both creator’s to see over 500 people playing at once in June 2021, Frantic Fanfic continues to see more and more ridiculous fan fictions being written by players and some of that real-world convention energy coming back online.

“We did something that made a lot of people happier and got them to laugh at silly stuff,” says Zee. “And during the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic, when things just look so grim in the world… that’s a really nice thing to say you’ve done.”

Interview responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Lyman
Freelance writer and journalist
Paige Lyman is a freelance writer and journalist who covers culture and entertainment. She has contributed stories to Digital…
Play Xbox Game Pass’ weirdest game before it leaves on September 30
weird west leaving game pass september 2023 art

Earlier this year, Arkane Studios disappointed on Xbox Game Pass with Redfall, a game that dropped much of the studio’s immersive sim expertise for an underbaked multiplayer adventure. But what if I told you that the person who founded Arkane and helped create series like Dishonored had left the studio prior to Redfall and made an excellent immersive sim that is also available on Xbox Game Pass?
Well, that actually happened, and the game in question is Weird West.
In March 2022, former Arkane Studios founder Raphaël Colantonio released Weird West under the newly formed WolfEye Studios. While it swaps out a third-person perspective for an isometric one, Weird West is a joyfully odd supernatural Western game that manages to tap into the immersive sim design philosophy that made many of the games Colantonio worked on excellent.
Unfortunately, Weird West is leaving Xbox Game Pass on September 30, so we recommend you give it a shot before it’s gone.
Embracing the weird
Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of games set in the Wild West, and even fewer that lean into creepy, supernatural elements like Weird West does. The game’s world is full of supernatural cults, magic, and creatures like pigmen, zombies, and werewolves. Its story is told across five distinct campaigns, starting with one about a retired bounty hunter whose child is killed and husband kidnapped, setting her off on an adventure to get them back.
The individual stories of all five of Weird West’s playable characters are emotionally captivating and quite distinct from each other. That’s very noticeable as soon as you jump over to the second story, which follows a human turned into a Pigman. Still, it’s a living and reactive world, so decisions made and characters killed in an earlier character’s journey do have an impact on subsequent characters’ adventures; you can even find and recruit characters that you previously played as.

It’s here where Weird West’s immersive sim roots start to shine, as a lot of emergent narrative moments with impact feel crafted by the player. This carries over into gameplay, which is done from an isometric perspective. Like Arkane’s best games, there are always multiple solutions to any objective, and going in with guns blazing isn’t always the best option. Instead, players are encouraged to stealth around, sweet-talk characters, and even use some magical abilities if the playable character can learn them as they progress through a character’s journey.
With these more dynamic elements, the isometric perspective, and the narrative focus, Weird West can feel like as much of a CRPG as an immersive sim at times. As such, it might be an enjoyable follow-up to Baldur’s Gate 3 for players finally coming off that lengthy RPG. At the very least, if you enjoy games that emphasize player freedom and also find novel ways to make it influence the game’s broader narrative, then you’ll enjoy Weird West.
The game had some technical issues and rough edges when it was first released, so it has flown under the radar. Most of those have all been smoothed over by now, though. Post-launch updates have fixed most of the major bugs and improved the character progression, aiming, and companion and stealth systems by adding more depth and UI clarity to them. Weird West is in the best state it has ever been in, but still feels as distinct and strange as ever.

Read more
Gunbrella is another bloody B-movie in Devolver’s video game grindhouse
Key art for Gunbrella shows a man with an umbrella gun.

It only takes a few minutes for me to figure out exactly what I’m in for upon starting Gunbrella -- though its title alone should have been a dead giveaway. The pixelated action game opens on a grim scene as I find my dear wife gunned down in our home. When I flash-forward to the present day and find myself blowing through enemies with a deadly umbrella, it becomes clear: I’m in a B-movie.

It’s a cinematic tradition I’m very familiar with. When I was a kid, my friends and I would often rent the lowest-budget action movie we could find at Blockbuster and revel in its schlock. Oftentimes, we were treated to unpredictable experiences that threw every rule of filmmaking out the window in favor of cheeseball entertainment. They were absolute messes, but that was the charm; we craved that idiotic jolt of entertainment. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the inarguably bad Chupacabra Terror, but I still haven’t forgotten the experience of watching it.

Read more
Lenovo’s Legion Glasses promise big-screen gaming wherever you are
A closeup of a person reclining on a sofa, playing a game on Lenovo Legion Go while looking up at a virtual screen in Legion glasses.

A person plays a game on Lenovo Legion Go while looking up at a virtual screen with Legion Glasses on. Lenovo

Lenovo's new Legion Go handheld gaming computer has a built-in 8.8-inch screen, which is great for a pocketable device. But if you want more, you can supersize that to TV dimensions without sacrificing portability, thanks to the new Legion Glasses.

Read more