Fanboys – Why Did They Happen?

Today I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at ‘fanboys’. Most of you know what we’re on about and most of you may consider them a major annoyance. Thing is, why are they so prevalent, now more than ever? What makes them tick? Why do they need to sit there typing out venomous and ill-considered comments? Well, I’ll try my best to think this one through.

A fanboy’s someone who has a favourite. It can be a company, franchise or console. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all have our preferences, but fanboys feel the need to attack. The target for attack could be almost anything. It could be something that contradicts, copies or competes with ‘their’ favourite. This incessant attacking of what isn’t exactly to their liking has a negative impact on plenty of websites, with topics and threads often getting derailed and insults being thrown around. It’s not just forum’s threads that are receiving these negative commentators. Developers and Community Managers are now in the scopes of these insecure whingers, thanks to Twitter, Facebook and the like. From a personal point of view, this is bad news as well. I, as someone who plays games, don’t want to be associated with these people. I’m on forums, I tweet to developers and Community Managers, so it saddens me to even think about being remotely linked to or involved in this behaviour.

It wasn’t always like this. Back in the days of the arcade machine, people were grateful for what they got or could find. There was no long-term investment involved. People threw in their loose change, played the game and that was that. They moved on to the next one or put in more change if they enjoyed it. I’m sure the games were discussed, with the good games receiving more money than the poor games, but the animosity among gamers wasn’t there. Unless you count people wanting to beat each others high score animosity.

Then it changed. People started buying consoles and buying the games. This cost more than loose change and also involved picking a game to invest in as well as a console. The dilemma of choice was personified in the heated rivalry between Sega and Nintendo. People (most of them) only had one or the other. They’d invested in their console, they’d picked their side and this is where it began. It was personal. It was my decision, my money and my collection of games vs yours.

Then it got worse. More games were available and decisions needed to be made. People no longer had the problem of no games being available. It’s safe to say we’ve reached a point where too many games, too many good ones at that, are being released one after the other. These games are longer and more expensive than ever. MMOs are measured in lifetimes, not hours. First Person Shooters last years thanks to their multiplayer components. Sports games are played all season either online or off as people now have an experience that truly emulates the real thing. People have to decide what game to play, what hours to sink and what games to miss out on. But how can you not play this game? You’re a total n00b.

Developers became ‘likable’. Community Managers put a friendly face onto the big corporation’s perceived identity. They started helping out charities. Their owners became Sirs and Knights! How can you not like this company? Unlike that other company who are nothing but corporate whores dying to sell out.

Game characters became ‘personalities’, appearing in Playboy, newspapers and on our TVs in their own shows. Even in my cereal! Games were no longer one-off 5 hours escapades. They turned into 40 hour franchises, with spin-offs and trilogies coming left right and center. How can you not like this franchise? That character is so gay compared to this one.

So here we are, with people investing hundreds of hours and hundreds of pounds (or dollars) into their chosen game series, developer or console. They’re in deep. They’ve picked their sides, and once you pick a side? You want that side to ‘WIN’.

Like in sports, part of wanting your side to win is wanting the other side to lose. You start to attack the enemy. You point out how your choice is better, more original or has sold more copies. Wherever you look for it, you’re trying to find the upper hand. You want the competition gone. You want to stand on top and be declared winner. Vindicated. That’s where I feel all of this anger and ‘fanboy’ behavior stems from.

If you don’t agree with what I’ve said or with my ideas on why they’re here or why they attack, that’s fine. They’re just my ideas and thoughts and as such, aren’t fact. (Leave a comment why don’t ya?)

What must be a fact though is that this hate of competition or difference that fanboys show is crazy. It’s this competition that’s improved gaming in huge ways. It’s difference that leads to change. The arms race that occurs when developers are fighting for sales helps to ensure quality and advancements being made in what is possible from our consoles. It means each new console has to be better than the other guy’s console and it has to be at a competitive price.

To hate this competition is to hate progress.

Who the fuck hates progress?

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