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Dr. Fanboy or: How I Learned To Stop Thinking and Hate the Game

Can’t we all just get along? Ever since the days of the bitter Sega and Nintendo rivalry during the 80s and 90s, many gamers have found themselves supporting one side or another. More often than not, this support is blind and, frankly, stupid: gamers who subscribe to one system and one system alone make the whole community look bad.

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While previous generations have seen nasty rivalries between two consoles, like the N64 and PlayStation, the advent of the original Xbox split the war four ways. Sony’s Playstation 2 was wowing audiences with its DVD playback ability, and Sega’s Dreamcast looked ready to make up for the abysmal performance of the company’s last two efforts, the universally ridiculed 32X and Sega CD console add-ons. Nintendo looked to be on form with the GameCube, and then out of left field, Microsoft dropped the Xbox bomb. With four consoles going at it in the marketplace, things were getting pretty heated. It’s not so much that the Xbox blew away the competition; it was the fact that in the midst of this marketing battlefield, one of the consoles actually, factually died. The Dreamcast ceased production, and Sega’s hardware division was no more. This was the first time since the video game crash in the late 70s that a company had actually “lost” a console war, and I’m sure you can put two and two together here. The idea that it was possible to fall out of the race seemed like great excuse to fanboys on all sides. Whether it was the Sony fans ridiculing the ugliness of the Xbox, or Nintendo fans mocking everything that didn’t have Miyamoto’s personal blessing, the community descended into petty chaos.

Here’s the rub. Every console had, and has, real problems. The Xbox 360 has the dreaded Ring of Death, the Wii has become a dumping ground for shitty shovelware, and the PlayStation 3, well… it HAS been having some rough times. However, every beloved console in history has had issues. While it’s perfectly acceptable to question, or even criticize, these defects, it’s not a reason to resort to name-calling and outright intolerance. Of the major platforms right now, I can name plenty of positive points. The Xbox 360 has the greatest online service out of the three hard-hitters this generation, and so far, the best graphics, too. The Wii is an innovative piece of hardware, and has some great exclusives to boot. The PlayStation 3 is the most powerful gaming machine on the market, and looks to have some great games in the future, and a few good ones now, too. Not that many people care. It’s hard to enter a discussion about the gaming industry without some prick kid who can’t spell spewing “lol mario is ghey” or “ZOMG TEH RINGS OF DETH!” Still, though, it isn’t these nitwits who are the problem. No, the problem is the group of zealots who can articulate themselves.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a fanboy who thinks that he’s not a fanboy. While these people are indeed a problem within the console community, the lens must be pulled back a little further to see the full problem. Enter PC gamers. The best example of the stupidity that spawns when a PC enthusiast and a console enthusiast go toe-to-toe is the First Person Shooter debate. The FPS first appeared on the computer, but since then, many successful shooters have been released on consoles. Naturally, many PC purists would feel that these games are a far cry from games on their favorite platform. Likewise, gamers who have only played, say, Halo, would be quick to generalize. These scuffles are made all the worse by the one or two people on either side who think they’re the gaming encyclopedia. What’s that? You know that The Darkness is a bad game because it isn’t Half-Life 2? Thanks for your unbiased opinion. Big-name titles, like the previously mentioned Half-Life and Halo, draw rabid fanboys like moths to a light, and the times that they intermingle should be advertised as a carnival of stupid. Come see the Final Fantasy zealots as they perform their smash hit “JRPGs Are the Only Games In the Universe”! Gasp in awe as the PC gamer defies all logic in his denunciation of the multi-million dollar smash hit Halo by claiming that nobody likes it! Yes, ladies and gentleman, they’re all here, with a special guest performance by The Well-Spoken Douchebags!

This clan mentality permeates nearly every game and system, though. The big hits aren’t the only groups that seem to draw in morons; even lower-profile titles have their fair share of crusaders. While I was researching Enemy Territory: Quake Wars for my review, I perused the game’s official forums.

Oh, dear.

Posters who dared criticize the game were met with barrages of hostility and ignorance. Granted, many comments were along the lines of “dis gaem sux i prefr battelfield 2”, but many were legitimately worded, honest concerns. The best (worst?) response I observed was in the midst of a practical gang-bang of a negative poster, someone complaining about the gameplay pacing in a perfectly reasonable manner. If I had known at the time that I was going to write this piece, I would’ve screencapped the post, but unfortunately, I can only recall it: suffice to say, it held Quake Wars up to the high standard of “the thinking man’s shooter”. Really? Nothing says “sophisticated” like words like ‘Strogg’ and ‘Lacerator’. Maybe I’m just uncultured.

Next time you see a game get a generally negative score across the board, like the recent Sonic the Hedgehog for PS3 and 360, or Red Steel for the Wii, go ahead and look for a discussion forum about the game. If you can find one game that doesn’t have an army of rabid, delusional gamers ready to gut any reviewer who gave the game a bad score, then you are a better man than I. It’s not that there is anything wrong with liking ‘bad’ games- I myself enjoy Tenchu Z, Red Steel, and plenty of movie-licensed games- it’s just that our reasons for doing so can’t be “I’m right and you’re wrong”. If the general consensus is that a game is bad, the game is, most likely, bad. That doesn’t mean we can’t like it, though. Some products have a charm that speak to people, and those gamers have every right to enjoy the titles of their choosing. It’s just… could they do so without throwing logic out of the window? Likewise for console owners. Not all of us can afford every system, but does that mean that the ones that we don’t buy are inherently evil? There’s something for everyone, on every platform, and in every game. Why can’t we be friends? More to the point, why can’t rational thought be everyone’s friend?

– Bart Robson, shitty game enthusiast and multiple console owner

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in October 2006.

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