Deconstructing Videogame Fanboyism (mostly my own)

I’ve been in a shitty mood for two days.  I’m not exactly sure why, and it’s not a catastrophic shitty mood.  I can still enjoy things.  Dark Souls is still fun.  Dungeon Defenders is still filling me with joy.  But even when i feel the joy there is this lingering feeling of dread, doubt and a tinge of anger lingering below it all.  I can’t shake it.  I’m sure I will, maybe later tonight, maybe in a week, but it will eventually go away.

Whenever I hit these moods I find myself a bit more defensive, and offensive, with my opinions.  I typically don’t like to be that guy, I do enjoy sharing my opinions with others (obviously or I wouldn’t be on a podcast) but if others don’t feel the same way I do I’m usually cool with it.  But when I get in these moods I tend to get a bit more argumentative.  This only occurs on twitter or on message boards or other such things, and Im not as angry as my posts/tweets make me sound, but there is certainly a shift in my attitude.  In short, I turn into a fanboy.

My personal definition of a fanboy is someone that either ignores facts or becomes belligerent in their arguments.  Some people’s definition is much more strict than mine.  In fact it seems like some people think if you like the PS3 51% and the Xbox 49% that you are a PS3 fanboy.  I think this is a bit shortsighted as everyone has preferences.  EVERYONE.  It’s impossible to love everything equally.  I know this because math and science tell me, and i certainly love science more than math.

Anyway, no one wants to be called a fanboy.  It’s one of those insults that is used to invalidate everything you have said or ever will say on the subject.   If I call you a Nintendo fanboy that means that not a single word you ever say about Nintendo and its competitors can ever be taken seriously because it’s all coming from someone who is obviously isn’t looking at things fairly.  This is a slippery slope heading towards our good friend the Strawman, of course, but it is effective.  You will see it all the time on internet message boards.   Entire websites will be panned because of the perception that the people writing for it are fanboys.   Oh, you can’t trust1up, they are obviously Xbox fanboys!

I’m not defending videogame journos, of course.  Most of them do have an agenda and it’s not really in line with what i want out of people reporting me news/opinions on the hobby I love.  But it is a solid example of how easy it is to pan something in such a complete manner.

My own fanboyism is interesting to me though.  I think I am honest enough with myself to admit that I have very strong predilections towards certain things.  I clearly like the Playstation a lot, I have since I first played Wipeout on a kiosk in Toys R Us.  But it’s not as simple as I love Sony and I hate everything else.  I still have a soft spot for Nintendo even though my playtime on the Wii and Gamecube were absurdly low to the point that I would call the purchase of those items a waste of money.

What baffles me though is how i feel about Microsoft.  The thing is…  I fucking hate Microsoft.  I hate everything about them.  I hate windows.  I hate Zune.  I hate the design of the Xbox  and Xbox 360.  I hate their controllers, save The Duke (yeah I can’t explain it either but I fucking loved that controller).  The Kinect makes me want to murder a small village.  MajorNelson makes me want to rape that village before and after the murders.  The UI of the 360 looks like someone took a giant shit on a dead dog.  Their “first party” games consists of studios they bought and pillaged.  Rare used to be so good, now look at them.  Once upon a time i was excited for Peter Molyneux games, now I want to punch his sperm so he can’t reproduce (punching sperm is effective, right?).  Halo was really awesome once upon a time but they drove that shit straight into the ground and Bungie smartly ejected.  And don’t even get me started on paying to play online games, most of which I am hosting myself.

But do I hate Microsoft because I love Sony?  Do I even love Sony?  I’m not sure.  I have major issues with Sony as well.  They are slower than shit when it comes to adapting.  150 years later and we still don’t have party chat, which they now say they can’t do because of console limitations?  LOLWAT!?!?  It was up and running a year and a half ago according to people I know at Sony.  They haven’t told me this but it’s clearly being held back to give the Vita a larger selling point.  That’s pretty obnoxious, right?  And how slow/retarded/ etc was their handling of the PSN hacking fiasco?  Also, once upon a time Socom was a pretty fantastic franchise and Sony seems to want to steer it into the nearest pile of COD-esque shit.

So I don’t love Sony, but I do love the Playstation, warts and all.  I’m not going to argue that the lack of a party system is a good thing, like some insane fanboys might, but I will tell you it has zero effect on me.  And when it comes to hardware, yes I paid more the ps3 but it came with a hard drive, wireless internet and a blu ray player.  Oh and it didn’t break 150 thousand times.  What it really comes down to for me is the games though.  I’ll take Uncharted, Socom, God of War, inFamous, Resistance, Ratchet and Clank, Gran Turismo, MLB the Show, anything from the ico team, etc and put it up against Halo, Fable, Gears, whatever bullshit kinect stuff rare is doing and Forza any day of the week.  And last gen was even more imbalanced, the PS2 first party stuff was so goddamn insane.

But, am I just being a fanboy?  Would I hate Microsoft if Sony didn’t exist?  If my choices for videogame consoles this gen were a Xbox 360 and a wii, what about my opinions would be different?  It’s an impossible question to answer but I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be quite as down on Microsoft.  I mean, I’ve always hated them as a company, long before the Xbox was ever conceived and J Allard tried to make gaming ‘hip.’  But is it my love of Playstation games that fuels some of my anger towards Microsoft?

Probably.  I honestly don’t know, but I think probably is a safe bet.  It’s not like I hate Microsoft so much that I won’t use their shit.  I’m writing this right now on a machine using vista (but I’m also using google chrome because Internet Explorer is a terrible piece of AIDS in software form).  My top 5 downloadable games of the year will likely contain at least 2 Microsoft exclusives (Toy Soldiers and Bastion if you are wondering).  I tried buying all my sports games on the 360 this fall, which I now see was an error, but I wanted to give it a shot.

I will also be in line on day one to buy an Xbox Loop (just like I was there day one for the Xbox 1 and 360).  So maybe I just hate them because I hate them.  Maybe it has nothing to do with being a fanboy.  Maybe I recognize that they do some things right but they do so much wrong that I can’t think highly of them as a company, but I will still use their products.  Going back to Nintendo for a second, I have much more respect for them as an entity but I’ve played my Xbox 360 more this year than I’ve played of the Wii and Gamecube in the last 8 years.

Why do I hate Forza so much though?  Forza is a good game by just about every measure.  Sure, I found it too easy, but I enjoy plenty of games I find easy.  I think this falls squarely into blatant fanboyism for me.  I loved GT5.  I was completely obsessed with it.  And while we were having our love affair the internet was shitting on my parade, telling me that the game was a letdown after such a long dev cycle, that Forza had replaced it, that it was a relic of an era that passed.  And I used to love Forza.  I thought Forza 3 was fantastic.  But when i got this Forza all i could think the entire time was “how is this better than GT5?” and it angered me.  Again, this is blatant fanboyism.  I wasn’t able to just enjoy the game for what it was, I was in constant comparison mode and getting pissy about it.  I reached a point where I decided that doing that was a waste of my time.  I don’t like to dwell in the negative for very long.  I would much rather spend 2 hours talking about why I love Dark Souls than spend 10 minutes talking about why I hated Catherine.  But I will fall into traps where I am just so negative about something.

Microsoft, as a corporation, I think deserves it.  They have earned any disdain that people feel towards them (as do most corporations, tbh, but I’m a tree hugging faggot communist).  Forza doesn’t though.  Sometimes my inner fanboy pokes through.

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