July 1st, 2008
There has been some interesting discussion around regarding fanboys and how best we deal with them. Of all the commentaries that I’ve read, I find Leigh Alexander’s conclusions to be particularly standout. Her idea is basically that subjectivity is natural. When we repeatedly see something that exempts a positive or neutral feeling towards us, we ally ourselves with that and form an affinity with it. She used the brilliant example of a news reporter and a stalker.
In video games, the same is true, you play a good game for a while and you begin to form a relationship with the characters within the environment.
The concept of people forming these relationships through repeated meetings leads to them becoming fans and enthusiasts of what it is they are playing. Seems pretty justified huh? Now let us turn to our culture and look at how we deal with fans and fanboys.
No matter where you stand, being a fanboy often leads to tension within a community. Game reviewers get crucified for showing subjectivity, forums turn into literary battlefields, you don’t need the examples.
If we break this situation down into its core products, in essence we are fighting our friends and our brothers because they obey their natural instincts to like what they play. Why does it have to be this way though? Why must we be so aggressive towards our peers? Don’t we all play games, read about gaming and interact with other gamers just to have fun?
As suggested in the aforementioned article, the only way in which we can beat this ‘epidemic’ is to accept it. Being a fan, a fanboy is natural and there is nothing wrong with it so why all the hate then? Once we accept fanboyism then we can end the tireless bickering that rages on our message boards and comment streams. And when this ends, what is left is a friendlier environment for us all and who doesn’t want that?