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A rant about fanboys

posted on April 17th, 2006 by jay
He shaves his head because he's mostly bald

Microsoft’s J Allard is paid to be a fanboy. For no extra cost, he is also a tool.

Fanboys remind me of the villain from the Serenity movie. He was sharp and eloquent but also utterly and completely blind. His faith was clearly proven wrong by the reality before his eyes, but rather than rethink his faith, he simply changed his perception of reality. Intelligent people who believe weird or extreme things are very dangerous because they’re able to make their faith sound rational. Thus, a fanboy is a force to be reckoned with. A forum of onlookers is often persuaded by a fanboy’s arguments, much like an intelligent design proponent can easily confuse and place doubt in the heads of smart, rational people.

One of the sure signs you’re speaking to a fanboy is that he refuses to allow reviews to influence him. A healthy adult has a stable set of values, opinions and beliefs and with this comes the ability to interpret other people’s opinions without losing your own. If you need good graphics to enjoy a game, you know to look for that in a review. If a slow pace, or repetition doesn’t bother me, I know well enough to ignore these complaints. An intelligent mind can process someone else’s perspective in a way that weeds out what doesn’t matter and highlights what’s important.

The fanboy cannot or refuses to do this. He will have you believe that society is a brainless mass that bends to the whim of the elitist and corrupt critic. The fanboy’s mantra is “trust only your own opinions.” A fanboy cannot process reviews in the same way as you and I. When faced with bad reviews, the healthy gamer accepts them and turns the page, but the fanboy is forced to construct a worldview that minimizes the effect of other people’s negative comments. By labeling all reviewers crooks and morons, it is possible to believe nothing your beloved company has done was ever less than stellar. By believing and preaching the “trust only your own opinions” credo, fanboys simultaneously insult those who refuse to waste their money on bad games as well as convince a few to buy things they shouldn’t buy, thus supporting the fanboy’s company.

An irony that is lost on the fanboy is that supporting games because of the logo on their box is often bad for the company who owns the logo. If a game is garbage but the fanboys still bite, which they always do, the company may be encouraged to release a sequel. This sequel, assuming it’s still shit, will do worse in the market because it will only be supported by the fanboys and not the innocent people who were unlucky enough to give it a chance last time. Thus, the sequel’s release will damage the company both financially and in the eyes of the public.

crappy game

I didn’t know 3DO had any fan boys, but is there any other way to explain the number of games in this shitty series?

Even if this scenario plays out differently, say because the sequel is actually decent or because people just tend to buy bad games, the fanboy’s insistence on supporting their company is bad for the industry as a whole. If capitalism is to give us games worth playing, people need to support only quality products. Instead of supporting the imaginary bad game I mentioned before, the fanboy could have bought a copy of a good game, thus rewarding quality and not a logo.

We all have biases and they don’t need to be entirely eliminated from our lives for us to be rational people. Liking a company in the same way you like a sports team can make paying attention to the industry more rewarding for you. Even better is liking a company because you respect what they do. I openly prefer Nintendo to Sony, and Sony to Microsoft because of what I value. I perceive some companies to focus more on innovation and creativity than others. I’m not right all the time, but my favoritism is dictated by my beliefs and my opinions are malleable. My dislike of Sony for their stance on 2D games still exists, but they have released some fantastically original first party titles which has influenced my view of them for the better.

The fanboys’ bias is different. They believe in a company because it creates an identity for them. Much how when I was a teenager I made sure I told everyone my religious beliefs on a daily basis, the fanboy clings to their company loyalty because it is a source of identity. Being a fanboy is an important part of who they are, and thus it must also be a constant. A fanboy cannot or will not acknowledge his company crumbling around him (sorry for targeting Sega fanboys). People tend to fear allowing themselves to be defined simply by their personality so they seek to define who they are through groups and beliefs. People join cults, they join movements, or they become fanboys.

3 Comments

  1. Dan said on April 18, 2006:

    Come on now, isn’t their something more to being a fanboy than just being shitty and communist? I love certain series and companies even though they really don’t deserve the credit they get. See Blizzard for an example (as if they weren’t talked about enough already). They are hyped beyond compare, yet I would have to consider myself a fanboy. I would buy Starcraft Ghost now matter how shitty it was, just to see where the story goes. I think that is where a lot of fanboys get hung up: the story lines. Games just become a part of us and we become extremely loyal to a brand or a series simply so they can continue supplying story to us. This may not be true for everyone, but I was kind of pissed that WoW was so open-ended because I was so very interested where the Warcraft story is going (in a definite, more complete manner than simply, “I really need some cloth and could you be a peach and clear that dungeon for” kind of way). I love blizzard’s RST games so much that it is difficult for me to really enjoy an other franchises games, a la all the age of empire games. I suppose this makes me a fanboy, because I am addicted to a type or story line and a certain type of game play that Blizzard produces.

    While Blizzard is a uber-popular company, I would suggest that smaller games are the same thing. The Shenmue series is not exactly popular, and sometimes can be very boring. Yet fans of the game defend it to the death, because it has become not just a game they like, but a story line that is very important to them. If they could make 67 Shenmues, I bet fanboys would be happy even if it only sold 5 copies. Is not a fanboy just a type of hardcore gamer with a very different type of preferences? Isn’t a fanboy more than just some shitty guy with a big mouth who hates capitalism! I know fanboys can suck big time, especially when you don’t agree with them, but lowering them to the level of religious nuts who can’t see reality for what it really is may be a little harsh. I would suggest they fanboys have just become a little attached to… something, and who hasn’t done that from time to time.

    PS J Allard is still a tool

  2. jay said on April 18, 2006:

    Maybe another term is needed to distinguish between huge fan and blind fan. I love Shenmue but can see the faults in the games. You love Warcraft but would not argue it is perfect. The people I am talking about seem to not exist in real life but hide in forums, always prepared to defend whatever shitty thing they love. Game fanboys and company fanboys are also different beasts. A game fanboy loves a series, which is the final result of artists, while the company fanboy love the artists themselves and is often unconcerned with the acutal merits of the specific games they create. If the stamp of their favorite artists is on the case, then the game is good.

  3. pat said on April 19, 2006:

    there are times when the storyline agrument doesnt hold up though. final fantasy is rife with fanboys and there is no continuity to the storylines (with very few exceptions). same with being a fanboy of a company rather than a series.

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