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Thoughts on Fanboys

Feature; Aug. 2, 2010; Channels: Video Games; By Robert F. Ludwick
Subtypes: Opinion
Are fanboys good or bad for video games?

If you've been a gamer for long, and especially if you've been gaming online for even the shortest period of time, you're likely acquainted with fanboys. Fanboys pop up everywhere in life, and the whole concept has been around a long time, too.


Fanboys haven't always been called fanboys, but that is the term that we're familiar with today. A fanboy is someone with a pretty strong attachment and liking to something, usually a sporting team or some corporate entity. In today's world, video game fanboys can be superfans of just about anything:

  • Sony's PS3
  • Microsoft's Xbox 360
  • Nintendo's Wii
  • Bethesda Softworks
  • Ubisoft
  • Mario
  • Sonic
  • Modern Warfare 2
  • Bad Company 2

Mostly, though, fanboys in the video game industry stick to consoles. The three main consoles, specifically. Fanboys generally congregate around the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and the Wii. This attachment to the three main consoles ends up pushing the fanboy into becoming a fan of the corporation behind the console. In this case, it's Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, respectively.

Now we've all encountered these fanboys. Thankfully, there not here much at OMGN, and I hope it stays that way. Civilized discussion is something most of us crave. But fanboys really can mess things up for people.

Think about other multi-platform video game websites you've visited in the past. You've likely encountered somebody spouting off a statement like "I hate Microsoft, I hope the 360 fails miserably!" or "Sony sucks" or "The Wii is for little kiddies." Now, even if the Wii were for "little kiddies," that's not really a derogatory term. At least, it shouldn't be.

It's this kind of behavior that really irritates me. We should all be hoping for a vibrant, successful video game industry where competition is fierce. Why fierce competition? Because without competition, usually the top dogs in an industry start to slip and become complacent because there's nobody to push them. This was actually a lot of the worry when EA acquired the exclusive NFL license for video games. Thankfully, EA has (arguably) been improving Madden each year since they got the license.

Fanboys grate most people the wrong way. I've seen several of my friends get completely pissed off at fanboys and swear to never patronize the product(s) the fanboy was so aggressively defending or promoting. Fanboys don't do anything for civil discourse; in fact they help contribute to flame wars and personal attacks.

So why do fanboys act the way they do? There are many reasons fanboys become fanboys and act like totally crazy people. I won't delve into the myriad reasons, rather I'll focus on the biggest target: competitive drive.

Think about it. This totally makes sense. Most gamers are competitive people, so it makes sense that the stronger the competitive drive in a person, the higher likelihood of that person becoming a fanboy. It's the same thing with sports teams really. Humans' competitive natures lend to people becoming fanatics about things, hence the real word behind the abbreviation "fan."

The competitive drive of a fanboy drives them to make wild statements such as "I hope Ballmer dies a thousand deaths!" The fanboy is competitive and wants to defeat his opponents, even if it's not in a battle of skills. It's a battle of the better choice in this case. The fanboy purchased an Xbox 360 and wants to "win," so the PlayStation 3 is deemed inferior. The fanboy drags down his "competition" by declaring his opponent's hardware as inferior to his.

There's a bit of ego in all of this, too. If the Nintendo Wii outsells a fanboy's system of choice, his ego will be bruised because his horse didn't come in first. Thus come the statements such as the "kiddies" remark. By aligning himself with a successful video game system or video game community, the fanboy is (in his mind) looked higher upon because of his wise choice. Really, the success has nothing to do with the fanboy, but the fanboy is associated with it nonetheless.

Honestly, why people want to align themselves with a corporate entity is beyond me. I've hated on Sony in the past, mostly because I was a Sega fan and Sony was primarily responsible for pushing Sega out of the hardware market. But I'm not like that anymore. My family owns several Apple products, but I was one of the ones bashing them for their idiotic handling of "Antennagate." I don't align myself with corporations anymore.

Fanboys basically just get to say "I'm better than you" because their horse came in first. The same concept applies to sports teams. I'm a Tennessee Titans fan (NFL), and I must say that it feels good when they win games because I root for them. If they win a game over a team that a friend of mine roots for, then I've "won" that battle. I am the victor. Hell, people make bets on their favorite teams all the time, with monetary consequences or even the shaving of one's head as the penalty for being on the losing side.

However, not all is lost. Fanboys do have one positive purpose in my opinion. They provide a rabid fanbase. Without a fanbase, the PlayStation 3 might not be able to succeed. These fanboys help drive sales of the system and games on the system because they'll buy nearly anything from their chosen corporation. Not only that, but they'll spread the word (think: free advertising!) because they want to see their system succeed. This will help drive interest and sales outside of the fanboys' purchases.

So are fanboys worth having around? I don't know. They've got a lot of downsides and there isn't much logic to their existence, yet they do have positive benefits for the industry. All I know is, they usually piss me off.


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