As long as there have been things in the world, there have been fans of those things. When you bring in another thing that directly challenges or rivals that original thing, you get divisions. People take sides, feelings are formed and friendships can very well be destroyed. This is especially true in the world of gaming. Sega does what Nintendon’t! Sony has better exclusives! Xbox has the best online! My box of virtual entertainment is inherently and objectively better than that other box of virtual entertainment for an entirely subjective reason! The list goes on and on…
Thankfully, there is a term for these people, in fact, there are many, but we will go with the politically correct and least-inflammatory and call them fanboys (or fangirls, sorry.) I will define fanboys as those people out there that swear a blind loyalty to a company, game, product, etc. and would rather die than think otherwise. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, it gets the message across. Fanboys support what they’re a fan of quite fanatically (go figure.) It often even gets to the point where they begin to overtly criticize and bash anyone and everything that does not fall in line with their “fandom.”
The Obsessively Negative Fanboy
This fanboy is on one of the extreme ends of the spectrum. He loves what he loves, but more importantly, he hates what he does not love. This fanboy is characterized not by his love for the thing, but by his hate for all other things. For example, preferring to play games on an Xbox 360 is one thing, everyone has their own preferences, but openly ridiculing anyone that owns a PS3 or prefers that console is a whole other thing entirely.
Just because someone does not share the same views that you do, does not make you any more correct or them any more incorrect. In fact, that’s the beauty of the gaming industry in particular – competition and diversity (except for NFL games, thanks EA.) Do you like shooting guns? Well, lucky for you, 75% of games this generation have that feature! Do you like playing online with your friends, but don’t really want to pay an extra fee for some added features and access? That’s cool too, don’t buy an Xbox. Do you not mind a tiny fee in exchange for a robust online service with cross-game chat? That’s cool too, do buy an Xbox.
The amount of choices you have, this generation and future generations specifically, is quite robust. There really isn’t a clear “winner” in any regards as most everything is a viable option. Go ahead and believe that something you love is the best, but understand that the things you don’t love, are probably loved by others. This isn’t to say that you should blindly love the things that you love, however, as that leads me to the next point…
The Blindly Loving Fanboy
When you like something, you tend to notice the good things. Master Chief has been through so much, he is so cool, his games are so pretty and the multiplayer is always so fun! Link is a legendary hero, a timeless classic and is the star of some of the best games of all-time. Nathan Drake is handsome, witty, clever and full of intense moments that rival any summer blockbuster at the theaters. See a trend here? I just pointed out some of the best features of those three amazing heroes, making them each sound wonderful in their own right…but they aren’t perfect.
Nothing in this world is perfect and that is especially true for video games. Halo’s gameplay is not for everyone and the story can often get confusing. Zelda games have grown stale over the years and it feels like they might be running out of ideas. Uncharted is great for what it is, but if you took out the wonderful graphics and superb acting, is the gameplay really able to stand on its own?
I’m not saying to criticize all the things you once thought were perfect, but be realistic at the same time. As someone that actively reviews dozens of games a year, it’s sort of my job to try and curb my fanboyism at the door at attempt to look at things as objectively as possible…but it’s tough. When you love something, sometimes its hard to see the flaws. But in order to be the best kind of fanboy, you have to find that happy balance become…
The Realistic Expectations and Grounded Opinion Fanboy
The trick is to not let your disdain for that other thing cloud your ability to notice that, “Hey, maybe someone else actually really likes this thing as much as I like my thing!” While it may be hard to think about abstractly, try taking a more centered approach: what are some flaws in the thing you like? If you can find flaws in the things you like, then you’ll more easily understand why some people don’t like it much. For example, I personally love the traditional and old-school feel of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. However, the difficulty spikes, walls of text, slow start and list of other JRPG tropes may seriously turn off other gamers.
This fanboy is really hard to come across. I like to think that those in the games media and press closely resemble this type of fanboy, but it’s not always true. The Koalition has several fanboys and if you’ve been a longtime fan, there’s no doubt you probably know who we are. Everyone loves some things in life and that’s especially true for gamers. At the same time though, if we want gaming to become the wonderful art form and medium for storytelling that it has the potential to be, sometimes we need to take a different approach.
Remember to check out the other pieces in this series: Hardcore Gamers, Gamer Girl and Casual Gamers. What do you think about this piece? Which type of fanboy/fangirl are you? Let us know in the comments below!