Fanboyism- why?

The next generation of games consoles has just begun to rear its head around the world, and with it comes shiny new graphics, exciting possibilities, and some truly revolutionary steps forward in how games are both played and distributed in the mainstream market.

But with these new consoles comes another war, old scars resurface and new tensions arise- not only between the companies themselves, but also between gamers; with each new generation of console comes a new generation of fanboys.

To put the question frankly: What the hell is fanboyism all about? In terms of this generation it’s understandable to an extent, with the Wii playing an entirely different hand of cards in terms of their overall plan and style of play. (The PS3’s supposed different battle plan to 360 arguably being negligible, as I remain sceptical of their claim that they are marketing a home entertainment system until I see the Blu-ray figures rise significantly.) But fanboyism is something that continues to boggle me, as it’s not something so salient in any other form of media; anyone ever met someone who refuses to watch any television other than the BBC, or won’t go to see a film in a cinema unless it’s financed by 20th Century Fox?

This avid and blind support for a company when put in perspective is an incredible phenomenon, these companies have such financial power that the lifelong allegiance of a horde of teenagers isn’t really requested, and it’s not as if they try and instil a sense of aggression towards other consoles into their press releases- it just seems to happen! But why? Admittedly, when I was much younger I was a Nintendo fanboy- I didn’t like the PlayStation and I loved my N64 to bits… Now perhaps it was just my natural desire to support the underdog- but I don’t think so… I think I was afraid.

When you get a new console it’s an investment, and it begins just being financial- but as you get more and more great games for it and begin to see its potential you slowly grow to cherish it, and something I realised during my N64 years that had never hit me when I had a Mega Drive is that CONSOLES DIE. Back then I wanted a SNES too, because maybe I was just too young back then to realise that one console could potentially kill off another. And this realisation was awful.

Now with two of the big contenders releasing a seemingly very similar console to a growing market that seems to crave innovation, things are going to get very messy; Sony and Microsoft look to be clashing horns once again for what could be a console war for the history books, fanboys flaming till the bitter end- until sooner or later one console will most likely kill the other.

Now bear with me guys and gals, because I’m going to go all psychological on you here… Perhaps fanboyism is an example of us realising the mortality of our much loved gaming systems, and trying desperately to deny the fact that this might ever happen through blindly declaring that all the other options are awful. The Wii, PS3 and 360 all have great potential, just choose carefully and try not to pick the console that dies first, as it’s an experience that most of us have had at some point; for those who haven’t it can be painful, believe me.

On the other hand you can embrace death: I bought a Dreamcast when it was on its deathbed and it brought me huge amounts of joy, although having tasted forbidden fruits, the lack of Shenmue 3 may come back to haunt me later in my life…

Enjoy the new consoles, but just remember that being a fanboy won’t change the outcome of the war. So pipe down, and enjoy what you’ve got. Then when the other consoles die, point and laugh.