I have always considered myself above the whole fanboy thing. Just reading the ridiculous diatribes that come out of the mouths — or keyboards rather — of those people who buy into the idea that buying a certain console somehow makes a person more or less intelligent or worthwhile makes me cringe. Nonetheless, I have recently found myself questioning whether I, too, am truly immune from the charge of fanboyism.
I suppose some back story would be appropriate. I recently read a quote from CNN.com regarding the PlayStation 3 in the light of it’s lackluster U.S. NDP scores. Most people who follow gaming have probably read it by now, but in short it refers to the PS3 as “a sinking ship.”
I own a PS3. I have for around two years now and at only a few junctions have I ever been tempted to buy an Xbox 360. This is not because I think it’s a bad console. I can see its positive points, I read with interest about its exclusive titles and I hope that if Sony indeed continues making games in the future that they inherit some of the better qualities that Microsoft has imbued their machine with. That said, the PS3 simply was, and is, the right console for me.
So CNN’s comments irk me a little bit. On one level it is because, as an educated gamer, I know that the contest for second place — the Wii has obviously taken first in terms of sales — is still rather contentious. Despite Microsoft’s gains in Japan, the PS3 still sells generally better in Europe and Asia. CNN seems to me, perhaps because they are a part of that mainstream media machine that has for generations known practically nothing about gaming, to be just ignoring a solid slab of fact when it comes to the matter.
On a more personal level, though, I can say that their remarks bother me because as someone who invested a good deal of money in a PS3, I obviously want it to do well. I want it to win because I don’t have the money to buy an Xbox 360. Two hundred dollars is a lot when you have graduation (and the subsequent "real world") staring you down, and whatever money I put towards video games isn’t going to be put towards another system I could go without. I want the PS3 to win right now because I want to have the best games at my disposal. On some level I just want to be able to believe, at the end of this generation, that I didn’t waste my cash on the second string.
So as I perused through the comments of gamers and fanboys in regards to CNN, I found myself thinking an unexpected and immature thought unlike any I’d known in years.
“Why can’t all these stupid lemmings just shut up?”
I suppose, looking at it now, that my little sentence probably wouldn’t even register on the Richter scale on fanboyism. It would probably fall more along the lines of an annoyed consumer, tired of stupid kids fighting over stupid things, but nonetheless it startled me. I can’t say I never that I don’t have it in me to be a fanboy. Back in the day, when 3D was still new and the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were duking it out, I was a no-holds-barred Nintendo fan. I worshiped the ground Mario metaphorically walked on. I subscribed to Nintendo power. I spent hours playing Goldeneye, Star Fox 64, and Zelda — don’t get me started on how I felt and to some extent still feel about Ocarina of Time. Whenever someone brought up that other console, that thing with discs instead of cartridges, that thing that had unjustly usurped Final Fantasy from its native home, I turned up my nose like it was a manure spreader instead of a gaming machine. I slurred and swore and slandered with the best of them, but like most fanboys eventually (hopefully) do, I grew up. I stopped the foolishness and recognized the quality of what Sony had managed to put together. Now I look at Nintendo with a genuine sadness over what they have become.
So why the reaction? Could it perhaps have been just a thought? Honestly, it’s getting hard to tell. Fanboyism has become such a prevalent part of the gaming discourse that sometimes it’s hard to discern those defenses and arguments driven by intelligent assessment and those that derive from the strange fanboy emotions that can only be expressed in disjointed grammar, irregular spelling, and the frequent use of misplaced capitals. I suppose that in the end all I can really know is that I bought a PS3, and I am happy with my purchase. I have never enjoyed a console as much as I enjoy playing my PS3. As far as I am concerned, it has been money well-spent.
Nonetheless, I am still susceptible to doubt. When the general gaming consensus seems to be that the piece of hardware is going down the tubes, I get a bit nervous, no matter how many facts there are at my disposal telling me otherwise. If anything can be blamed for fanboyism it’s probably that very same doubt. Far too many gamers let the console they own not just entertain, but define them. When you threaten that kind of devotion, you’re bound for trouble, so when faced with the fact that the PS3 is indeed in last place when it comes to sales this generation, PlayStation fans sometimes lash out. Similarly, when a devoted 360 fan calls you a moron for pointing out that the PS3 is technically more powerful than their machine of choice, it’s probably just as much out of the fear that your defense is true as it is a result of their belief that the 360 is in fact the sh*t. As for fans of the Wii, well, I suppose some of their doubt might come from the fact that Nintendo tricked them into paying two hundred and fifty dollars for a second Gamecube.
It’s okay guys, I bought one too.