Fanboys. We love them. We love hating them. We often love being one. Sometimes, we just flat-out hate them, no love included. Oh, and occasionally, we hate being one, too. (Ouch, Microsoft is doing what with the Xbox One?) For ease, we’ll stick to the term fanboy, but let’s not discount those raging fangirls out there, we know you exist. The big question is though, boy or girl, what causes this phenomenon?
Are you a fanboy and you don’t even realize it? Is there some kind of test we can take to gauge our fanboyism and stop embarrassing ourselves as we dogmatically defend our favorite companies, TV shows, games, etc… when people criticize them? (They’re clearly just fanboys, anyway…) This is The Ultimate Gamer’s guide to the fanboy.
What is a Fanboy Anyway?
First up, let’s get some definitions in place. A fanboy is usually a highly vocal, obnoxious self-appointed defender for any given brand, product or service. In the eyes of the fanboy, whatever it is they’re buying into at that time can do no wrong. It doesn’t matter how irrational, illogical or verifiably incorrect their opinion might be. Any decision that entity makes is 100% justifiable in the eyes of the fanboy.
Typically speaking, a fanboy sees the Internet as a blank canvas on which they must plaster their opinion loud and clear without so much as considering the counter arguments presented by all those other people who are all obviously just a bunch of fanboys.
It doesn’t matter that Valve took 10 years to release Half Life 2 and is likely to take a further 173 years to release Half Life 3, they’ve got their reasons. Valve is the perfect developer and can do no wrong! The second and third Matrix movie? Awesome. No drop in quality there! Matrix FTW! Duke Nukem Forever? Legit. You KNEW it wasn’t vaporware! Clearly the best game franchise ever made… The new Star Wars movies were awesome? (Freakin oldschool, anti-CGI movie special effects fanboys…)
What? A top-end PC graphics card costs more money than an entire next gen console? Irrelevant. PCs are clearly superior and always will be. (Those damn console fanboy retards). If any of these sound familiar and/or you could apply them to other brands products or services you’re into, you’re probably a fanboy. Did you think the D-pad on the Xbox 360 controller was acceptable? Have become aroused sexually during a product announcement? Have tattoos, pyjamas or novelty eggcups with your favorite company’s brand logo? Sorry to report: you’re definitely a fanboy.
Why Do We Willingly Embrace the Fanboy Within?
Fortunately, there have been a number of studies to understand this phenomenon. Apparently, it comes down to a combination of self-esteem (something which is arguably not a strong point of the geek population at large) and purchase justification.
Let’s look to the current gen consoles for an example. They cost several hundreds of dollars and no-one wants to back the wrong horse. (Especially those idiot Microsoft fanboys who bought the more expensive Xbox One.. Gah!). After some time showing loyalty to a brand, we start to see it as part of our identity and when people attack the brand, many people see it as an attack on themselves.
Combine the fact that the need to “belong” in a social context is essentially hardwired into the way we humans work, and this tribe mentality is a difficult thing to avoid. Even if you do want to try and be objective and accept that the average Call of Duty player does have an IQ higher than 47, (because Battlefield is clearly better, those goddamn CoD fanboy noobs), it just don’t come that easy…
Will Things Ever Get Better?
As Nintendo continues to be the videogame console of choice for gamers (those Microsoft and Sony chump fanboys just can’t admit it), it seems like we’ll continue to have the phenomenon of fanboyism for as long as we live.
Us nerds love nothing better than jumping onto a forum and dogmatically forcing our (highly informed, objective and non-fanboy opinions, thankyouverymuch) in other people’s faces, simultaneously venting frustrations from years of being bullied in high school. Like it or not, it seems fanboys will probably be with us up until the day when Valve releases Half-Life 3. And that’s likely to be a very, very long time indeed. (We’re looking at you, Valve fanboy noob).