Why haven’t I Thought Deep for a while? I’m not really sure. I might as well fix that by diving into a topic I’ve mentioned before: Fanboyism (or Fangirlism, but it’s easier to write “fanboy,” so just replace the gender pronouns to enjoy the article more if that’d otherwise be a deal-breaker). What makes someone pledge undying allegiance to one brand over all others? What makes that same individual flame against all other brands and all other loyalists to other brands, seeking conspiracy theories everywhere when they perceive their brand of choice attacked? That’s what I’m here to explain. So come with me, and Let’s Think Deep.
As full disclosure should dictate, I might as well place my Nintendo badge visibly on my shoulder and reflect as to what has made me a Nintendo devotee for so very long. The short story is that I grew up with Nintendo as a system and a brand and everything with their name on it is something I understand and trust. The longer story involves a matching of my ideology with Nintendo’s. Want a clearer explanation? Alright, next paragraph for that.
I hate DLC for games. I hate even more that most games require an investment be made with the assumption that you will play both the single-player and the multiplayer modes, an aspect that costs developmental time to create both aspects of the game, as well as real money to support a good internet connection, a multiplayer subscription (I’m talking Xbox Live here), and generally $10 more as the price of a $60 game is a result of that extra multiplayer mode getting added. Nintendo games don’t have any of those aspects. Smash Bros, Mario, Metroid, Zelda, Donkey Kong, etc were games that shipped as completed projects and delivered more than their worth of $50 to me. I favor fun over realism. I favor fun over graphics. And most importantly, I favor platforming and adventure over First Person Shooters. I am a gamer built for a Wii as I don’t have a huge gaming budget, meaning I can generally afford maybe two or three new games a year, which just so happens to be what people estimate the total of good games released per year on the Wii actually is. All things considered, I enjoy my Wii more than my Xbox 360.
This isn’t to say that I hate my 360 or that the Wii doesn’t bother me rather frequently. But I’m going to be called a Nintendo fanboy and it’s going to be fairly accurate. I’m excited for the 3DS. I couldn’t give a crap about the PSP2. I think the Kinect and The Move were stupid ideas whereas the Wii was a fantastic step forward. My vision is clouded by the Big N far more than most people. But I’m aware of this fact, an aspect I don’t share with most diehards.
But why do diehards or fanboys even exist in the first place? That’s why we’re really here, isn’t it? As mentioned before with my example, the first reason falls on the perceived nostalgia or a sense of trust built by one particular brand. The other reason is more monetary in nature. Let’s talk about the first reason in greater detail before getting into money.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, no matter what you’re talking about. A lot of this is because for something to be nostalgic, it has to have some deep connection to you, specifically. To a lot of Sony fans, Sony isn’t just some company that makes a video game console. They’re the company that got you through tough times. They’re a company that provided you with a game that made you cry, that made you laugh, that made you furious but ultimately content and proud of your skills. If you owned a Playstation when you were first getting into video games, the current generation of Playstation is nothing more than an extension of your youth, and for someone to come along and not only disagree with your system but favor a competitor’s product, well that can only be an attack on you and your youth.
It is hard to disconnect our lives with others. The universe revolves around us because we can’t conceive of anything otherwise. To this day, I still have a hard time believing anyone could ever prefer the recent incarnations of the Ninja Turtles over the cartoon I grew up with. But not everyone grew up with my life. This is what gets lost with so many gamers these days. Not everyone grew up with a Nintendo, or a Genesis, or a Playstation, and not every kid only had just the one system until he could afford the next iteration. My memories are mine and mine along, something I realize, but those hardcore fanboys I’m talking about? No, to them, by saying that you prefer a system other than the one they prefer is like saying their childhood, their memories, their feelings, are incorrect.
“Your childhood was wrong.”
When said out loud, it really does sound silly. But we as a community don’t typically take that necessary time to think out loud very often, unless of course what we’re thinking is angry and selfish. Were we to recognize that other opinions don’t negate our own, there would be no issue with fanboy rage whenever an attack is perceived.
Nowhere is this more prevalent that on popular gaming websites when a review is published. Take GameTrailers for example. Every time they do a review and give a good game anything less than a perfect 10 (something they’ve never done) swarms of fanboys come out of the wings to cry “conspiracy most foul!” If they give a PS3 game a 9.3, clearly, they must be paid by Microsoft to give a poor review. If a Wii game scores higher than an Xbox 360 title, obviously Nintendo has been bribing the reviewers.
This logic is so flawed that it hurts. What does a game reviewer stand to gain from a review that makes no sense? If they were to love a game that had clear problems, problems they just don’t address that everyone else has, then how do they expect to get away with it? It’s that fantasy notion that a difference of opinion than your own makes your opinion wrong. Just because someone else gave Red Dead Redemption a Game of the Year award doesn’t mean that your favorite game of the year, Super Mario Galaxy 2, isn’t still your favorite game of the year.
No one wants to feel alone. That’s the core of this strange fear. If enough people strike against your brand, perhaps you will be left alone, an outsider, a pariah, fit only to be friends with the rats and no one else. Once again, when said aloud it sounds silly, but too few fanboys take the time to say it aloud. “I’m never going to be alone with my favorites.”
But then comes the bigger problem: money. Gaming isn’t cheap, now more than ever. If you purchased a PS3 on Day One, you were looking at a $600 investment, plus $60 for a game and another $50 for a second controller. A Day One Xbox 360 would cost you around $500, plus a $60 game and another $50 controller, plus a year of Xbox Live, which was only $50 back then, and naturally, your Xbox would have borked, so you would have had to pay another $400 or $500 for another system. This all equals a hefty investment of real, tangible money. If you spend $1000 in a year on something and someone comes along to say that you made the wrong choice, man, I’d be pretty pissed, too.
We’ve hit a point where we just can’t afford to be lax about which system we support. I don’t have the money to be a devoted PS3 fan, and were it not for an awesome wedding gift, I wouldn’t have an Xbox 360 sitting under my TV right now. Take a look at the Sony fanboy rage over Final Fantasy XIII. Squeenix told fans that, as usual, the next Final Fantasy game would not only be the Second Coming, but it would be exclusive to Sony’s new console. Fast-forward and your $600 Day One purchase is constantly justified by that promise…until Squeenix announces that they’re releasing FFXIII on the 360 as well. There is a real sense of betrayal there. For some, you would gladly have saved $100 or more had you known there were other options out there. But no, you were forced to align yourself with one specific choice, so the only way to justify your purchase is to attack any who would suggest you are a fool. “The PS3 version is still clearly superior to the 360 version! It is YOU ALL who are fools!”
Unfortunately, the only two ways to consistently avoid fanboyism are to either have the money to afford whatever you like, or be capable of stepping aside and seeing the situation for the silly bantering it really is, both options that aren’t reasonable for most gamers at this exact moment. And as such, we’re stuck with the world as it currently exists, a place where fanboys and fangirls roam online forums and lash out at anyone with differing opinions.
But these are just my personal findings. What do the majority of you feel on the subject? Is fanboyism a real problem? Or is it actually a wonderful thing? Leave a comment and let me know. As for me, I have a Wii that’s calling my name, and screw your console for not having a Nintendo logo on it!
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