Making A Fanboy

Fanboy

Over the past few weeks I have had several encounters with fanboys on the twittersphere. I have no idea how I keep finding these people but at times my feed was full of vitriol and, quite frankly, bullshit being presented as fact.

Now I am a rational man, with no allegiance to a company (or companies) who are out to take as much of my money as they possibly can, and when I tried to converse with these people I took an unholy amount of shit from them! I’ve been called everything from “an f*$king idiot” to “a stupid c&$t” and everything in between over the past two weeks. Needless to say I’ve blocked a lot of people from twitter and steam on account of them being a dickhead first and a fanboy second.

What is it about gaming that attracts these people?

More importantly, why do people form these allegiances?

SegaMegadriveI remember being a young kid playing my SEGA Mega Drive knowing that it would be the only console I would own until a new machine was released. There was no way my Mum and Dad was going to buy me a SNES too! This led me to become a SEGA kid – My SNES owning friends and I would argue over which console was the best and there was never any winner because it was an impossible choice.

As I grew older this idea of owning a single format became redundant, I had more disposable income for more games and also friends and family who owned different systems. I bought many systems from every major console manufacturer over the years and as my exposure to video games grew, any idea of fanboyism died.

Perhaps the adults out there who are still fanboys have grown up playing games on machines from one of the manufacturers. They have never had any investment outside of their very small section of video games and as a result still see other machines and communities as the “enemy”.

And it is that idea, the idea of community that provides a reason that these people exist! Humans are by definition a social species; we actively look out people who we could be friends with, judging them by their personality or interests. Tribalism exists in many walks of life – as a sports fan I belong to the tribe known as Liverpool supporters and I have a hatred for Man UTD, for no reason other than they are an enemy tribe!

The idea of belonging even transcends the games – we all belong to friendship groups (communities) and they are where we feel a part of something greater than ourselves. When our friends buy a certain console then we too want to own it, to be a part of the dialogue and to play together. Fanboys are made by a combination of their circumstance, experiences and community.

What is in for them though, why be a fanboy?

Digital FoundryAlthough the internet really throws fuel into the “console war” fire with sites such as Digital Foundry pointing out minuscule differences in games that no-one will ever see in actual playing. And while this certainly adds to the problem, I think the real reason fanboyism exists in gaming because of the cost of admission. Basically they form such a vehement bond with their company of choice because they have spent a lot of money to support them.

Think about the cost of a console, the subscription to their online, a few games and maybe another controller – you’re probably looking at around £500 a year after launch and much more than that day one. When you spend that amount of money it is only natural that people would want to protect that investment. They want to ensure their choice succeeds – this leads people to singing its praises from the rooftops and putting down any notion of its shortcomings; especially when compared to its rival.

That theory was confirmed recently when it became very apparent to me that Steam (of all things) has a small but vocal population of fanboys. Now this is a strange thing to do, rallying around a digital marketplace that has DRM embedded and parading it as better than other DRM marketplaces is; quite frankly, weird and symptomatic of what’s wrong with modern gaming.

SteamGamers are so frightened of competition it drives some of us into a default defensive position. We all use Steam because it has the biggest range of games and because of its sales, it often represents the best value! Which don’t get wrong, is bloody great.

However we have all bought far too many games on steam, and because of the sheer number of games we don’t install them on to our computers and as a result they are sitting, precariously, on a server that we have no control over. Should (for examples sake) Windows 10 Game store take off, and somehow put Steam out of business we will lose all of the games we have bought – such is the DRM in place and the very nature of digital goods. And that terrifies some people (and it should to be honest) enough to become fanboys and start campaigns against any competitor to Steam. Calling them out as “full of DRM” (hilarious), “too expensive” (perhaps – but non-sale games aren’t cheap on steam) and “made by a company of bas*&^ds”! If the campaign posts messages like that on enough mainstream sites; like Twitter, then it becomes the narrative and they have succeeded in sinking another marketplace.

Why they would want to remove the very principal of a free-market, I’ll never know. Competition drives down prices and pushes these companies into making good, consumer-focused decisions.

But hey, there’s not enough time for rational decisions when you’ve got a war to win!

Drop me a comment if you can answer the following questions…

…why do videogames have such a high number fanboys?

…are you a fanboy or have you ever had a run-in with one?

…how do you deal with them online?

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8 thoughts on “Making A Fanboy

  1. I am sure that a lot of rabid fanboi-ism is an attempt to validate their own game/hardware/platform choices by running down any competition. And it works both ways. Not only will they slam any perceived competition, but any criticism, valid or not, of their on favored choice will be shouted down and the person expressing it branded as a hater. Or such is my experience in the extremes of this.

    So you have to be careful going too far with criticizing criticism as well.

    On your Steam example, I would not call myself a huge fan. I took a long time getting used to them being able to hold all my games hostage, but Valve’s behavior has been good and so I have reached a level of grudging acceptance.

    But I am less fond of some of their competitors.

    One reason is that I really don’t want to have to invest in two such platforms. But I would in the right set of circumstances.

    Another, and likely primary, reason is that some of Steam’s competitors have displayed bad behavior in the past. I am no fan of EA and wouldn’t install their Origin client on a bet because of the company. Likewise, I have to have Windows and Office already because Microsoft simply dominates the corporate world and I need that compatibility at home. But I am no fan of the company, less because of malice and more because a history of horrible, compromise, didn’t think things through design decisions.

    So, in my own case, being against either Origin or the Windows 10 Game Store isn’t being against the free market, it is literally the free market working as designed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a Steam and origin account, although I seldom buy from Origin (to me EA are a console game maker)! But your points are expertly made Wilhelm! If only all contributors to online discussion were as level headed and mature as you sir!

      Like

  2. Great article! I believe you are right with fanboyism stemming from childhood as a way to justify which system you had (or which one you were given by your parents). As people grew older, they either: decided that it was okay to like more than one system or grew stronger in fanboyism. I think being able to buy more than one system or not can influence which way to go. I also think many people in more “geeky” fandoms tend to want to be right and justified. As such, those who end up being stronger fanboys may be a little more defensive and even angry. This happens in other fandoms too such as Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Simpsons vs. Family Guy – the list of competing fandoms go on. It’s ok to be really strong about something and not like other competitors. However, how people should respond requires maturity and humility.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a great comment and one that I agree with 100% – I am a fan of many things but the motivation to shout down fans of other things has never been there with me. Although maturity and the internet aren’t known bedmates
      !

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really despise the PC elitist fanboys who keep calling themselves the “PC master race”. One of the reasons why I bought multiple consoles is because many console games that I want to play will never be ported over to PC.

    Yes, I don’t deny that the PC, by right, is a technically superior experience compared to consoles. I play plenty of PC games too. But I am gamer first who just simply wants to play games, I am not a die-hard loyalist to any platform. And if you are a serious gamer, you shouldn’t be restricting yourself to just one platform. Play more, play everything.

    Like

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