Let’s Think Deep: The Mind of a Fanboy

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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.

What compels a perfectly intelligent person to act so foolishly?

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.

When you provide me with a character who's been kinder to me than Mario, then I'll change my stance.

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.

And there are a lot of commenters who feel I've attacked their childhood in some way, believe you me.

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.

Okay, disregard obvious exceptions.

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.

But hey, at least it's still backwards compatable, right? Oh...

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.

At least we can all agree that a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII is a bad idea, am I right?

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!

Want to keep Thinking Deep? Check out these articles:

Let’s Think Deep: The Kinect and What It Means

Let’s Think Deep: The Great Zelda Schism

Let’s Think Deep: The Used Games Dilemma

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

3 Comments

  1. Hahaha, spoken like a true fanboy. 😉

    I’m not here to rip on the PS3, and I’m not trying to start the tired argument over again about the launch, but when it comes to a console’s launch, I definitely wasn’t going to be convinced with a $599.99 price point. Back then, we had no clue how long it’d take for a better, more reliable, and most importantly cheaper version to be released. Were I to buy it immediately, I doubt I’d be very pleased with my purchase, especially considering how long it takes a system to get a decent library of games. I mean, hell, I love my DS, but I didn’t buy a game for it until about a year after its launch. If I had the money to buy a PS3 now, ah man, that’d be sweet. Nothing’s better than getting to go back through a console’s library AFTER seeing the extent of its variety. Hindsight is so much better than blindly stumbling forward. It’s the only reason my 360 gets any love despite releasing a ton of games that make me super indifferent.

  2. I’m pretty sure bashing the Play Station 3 for it’s launch price and not being backwards compatatble got old at least 2 years ago, escpecially when you consider that since then, the price has been literally cut in half, and there is a smaller, more powerful, and eco friendly verson now available, and if you really care THAT BADLY about backwards compatability, just keep your PS2 handy.

    Chris and I have debated this in the past through and through, but Sony has always been my favorite because of two factors: quality and variety
    Quality: Sony has chosen to work diligently with some outstanding developement teams for a good decade and a half now. Companies like Naughtydog, Insomniac, and Suckerpunch are eons ahead of Bungie and Epic Games. Yeah that’s my opinion, but it’s a fact that they have a larger variety of games in their library, and said games have better stories, better characters, etc.
    Plus, I don’t really care much for online multiplayer, and there’s a better chance that an FPS exclusive for PS3 (say Resistance) will have a much more deep and involving single player campaign than one exclusive to the 360 where everything in the game is made to cater to XBox Live (like Halo).
    Variety: Nintedo’s exclusives cater majoraly to younger, casual, and nostalgic gamers, whereas Microsoft caters to the “hardcore” mature gamers, but Sony, in my opinion has an excelent library of both. The PS3 has Little Big Planet, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, plenty fo JRPG’s, mixed with Uncharted, God of War, Resistance, and InFamous.
    As a writer, I’m a guy who also loves when a game has a good story, and believe it or not, the naratives in a lot of these Sony games in each genre are actually really good. Their family frendly games don’t have tacked-on fairy tale plots like, “the princess get’s kidnapped again,” and their hardcore games arent empty Sci-Fi calories about powered armored space marines, (Killzone being the only exception.)

    And you know what the weirdest part is? I don’t even think of myself as a Sony Fan. I’m just a gaming fan, and as such, I bought the best system out there with the best games. If you can have the best gameplay AND the best graphics, why not have both?

  3. I think fandom can be both a good and a bad thing. Like you, I’m an avid Nintendo fan. I don’t have a Wii, but I’ve played one one, and it’s definitely on my list of what to get in the future. Til then, I’m stuck with my DS.

    However, it’s not just gaming fandom that can get pretty pissed off. There’s this one British sci-fi show I follow pretty religiously called “Doctor Who”, and it’s fandom is utterly insane. To be fair, the shows been around since 1963, and 11 actors have played the title role, so there’s bound to be some fandom splintering there.

    But what pisses me off is that when a new guy comes in to play the Doctor, and/or a new creative team takes over, there are factions of the fandom who embrace the change with open arms, and there are others who proclaim that it’s “RUINED FOREVER” because it’s not exactly how they remember it from when they were kids. I tend to lump myself in with the “openly embracing the change” group, because they’re frankly more fun and understanding.

    I think that if gamers -as well as “Doctor Who” fans- want to be taken seriously by other people, we’ve got to stop bitching and moaning about every little thing that is changed, as well as not thinking that the new people in charge are the Antichrist for making said changes. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

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