(Disclaimer: The opin­ions expressed in this arti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent those of the staff and/or any con­trib­u­tors to this site.)

Console fan­boys are ubiq­ui­tous to the hob­by, pop­ping up when­ev­er a chance presents itself to do a lit­tle cor­po­rate cheer­lead­ing. They’re such an inex­tri­ca­ble part of gam­ing that if you’ve been play­ing video games for any sig­nif­i­cant length of time you’ve most prob­a­bly met one or two… hun­dred of them. Hell, you may even have been one your­self at some point.For those of you who are — rather envi­ous­ly — not in the know, a con­sole fan­boy is some­one whom — while every­one else is off play­ing games — choos­es instead to hang out on forums and in the com­ments sec­tions of gam­ing enthu­si­ast web­sites to engage oth­er fan­boys in long, drawn-out argu­ments about why his sys­tem of choice is the tech­no­log­i­cal equiv­a­lent of a three­some between him­self, Jesus, and a super­mod­el; while at the same time pro­fess­ing that its com­pe­ti­tion may as well be ter­mi­nal ass-cancer in a box. It doesn’t even mat­ter what the top­ic at hand may be, if there’s a dis­cus­sion about video-games hap­pen­ing any­where on the inter­net then you can rest assured that there’s a fan­boy some­where who is all too will­ing to inter­rupt it to remind you about all of this even if you’d rather not hear it. Now that we’re all on the same page, I’d like to dis­cuss what I believe moti­vates con­sole fan­boys to behave the way they does. Of course I want to make it clear before I get into this that while the sub­ject fas­ci­nates me, I’m no expert. What fol­lows are just my obser­va­tions into what I think might dri­ve them, cou­pled with an amateur’s under­stand­ing of psy­chol­o­gy. These thoughts are formed after years spent being annoyed by their spe­cial abil­i­ty to ruin many decent dis­cus­sion about video games that I’ve tried to have by turn­ing them into sil­ly lit­tle dick-waving con­tests.

So with­out fur­ther ado, let’s dive into this shit-show, shall we?

Psychology has a lot of fas­ci­nat­ing things to say about human-beings and our pos­ses­sions. For exam­ple, it pro­pos­es that they’re sta­tus sym­bols of sorts, and that as such we tend to inti­mate­ly ingrain them into who we are. This is why we tend to take crit­i­cism of our pos­ses­sions as crit­i­cism of our­selves. That may seem sil­ly, but if you’ve ever found your­self react­ing to crit­i­cism of say, your favorite video game with mild annoy­ance and an urge to defend it, then you’re famil­iar with the con­cept.

You’ll notice that this tends to be mag­ni­fied in con­sole fan­boys to the Nth degree. That afore­men­tioned mild annoy­ance becomes some­thing more akin to apoplec­tic rage, and that urge to defend again­st crit­i­cism is like­wise kicked into over­drive. It’s been my obser­va­tion that this is most com­mon­ly due to con­sole fan­boys only ever own­ing one of the sys­tems avail­able dur­ing any given gen­er­a­tion.

You see, the more pos­ses­sions that we own, the less empha­sis that we tend to put on indi­vid­u­al things. If you’ve ever col­lect­ed some­thing, you might notice that you tend to think about that col­lec­tion as a sin­gu­lar pos­ses­sion rather than as a con­glom­er­a­tion of indi­vid­u­al things. You may of course val­ue one of its com­po­nents more you do the rest, but for the most part it’s the col­lec­tion on the whole that holds the val­ue to you. On the oth­er hand, the few­er pos­ses­sions that you own the more impor­tance you tend to place in the ones that you do have, and so you inte­grate them into your sense of self-worth more inti­mate­ly than that afore­men­tioned col­lec­tor might do for the indi­vid­u­al com­po­nents of their col­lec­tion.

When you apply this to the video game indus­try, in which com­pe­ti­tion between con­sole man­u­fac­tur­ers is tight and focused, it tends to man­i­fest in the fan­boy as a strong desire to ensure the con­tin­ued via­bil­i­ty of his cho­sen con­sole. After all, noth­ing reflects more poor­ly on one’s judg­ment than hav­ing backed the wrong horse, so to speak. The fear of this out­come is why you’ll see fan­boys react to crit­i­cism of their con­sole with per­son­al attacks on the crit­ic in an attempt to dis­cred­it him or her, or by writ­ing long, drawn-out posts in which they explain in great detail why the critic’s whol­ly sub­jec­tive opin­ions are actu­al­ly wrong as a mat­ter of fact. Of course none of it actu­al­ly serves any mean­ing­ful pur­pose since the mar­ket will deter­mine a console’s con­tin­ued via­bil­i­ty irre­spec­tive of the fanboy’s inter­ven­tion, but they do it all the same out of fear of the con­se­quences to which they imag­ine their inac­tion might lead.

Earlier I talked about how our pos­ses­sions are sta­tus sym­bols of sorts. This is owed in large part to the envy we tend to feel towards folks who own things that we don’t. One of the ways we cope with this is by min­i­miz­ing the impor­tance of those things to our­selves. If we can con­vince our­selves that they’re not worth own­ing, then we don’t feel as envi­ous of oth­ers who do own them. In con­sole fan­boys this man­i­fest itself as rants — often ill-conceived and fre­quent­ly unhinged — about how much their cho­sen console’s com­peti­tors suck ass. Doing it has much the same effect as con­sole cheer­lead­ing does, inas­much as it also helps to con­vince them that their judg­ment remains sound, but in this case it’s pri­ma­ry func­tion is to min­i­mize envy. You don’t often see the­se behav­iors in folks who own more than one con­sole. Having all the avail­able options appears to lead folks to take a more fair and bal­anced view of them, and even allows them to be more forth­right in their crit­i­cism of a given system’s faults. I believe that this is owed to how lit­tle they have at stake. Any one of the sys­tems avail­able on the mar­ket could cease to be viable and they’d still have the oth­ers to fall back on, so they don’t feel any par­tic­u­lar need to defend them­selves from crit­i­cism like the fan­boy does.It appears that con­sole fan­boys are dri­ven by the same sub­con­scious psy­cho­log­i­cal moti­va­tors that we all are when it comes to our pos­ses­sions, only the accom­pa­ny­ing behav­iors are mag­ni­fied to an obnox­ious degree because they only own the one con­sole. Most impor­tant­ly, when you look at the­se moti­va­tors it becomes clear that there’s real­ly noth­ing to be gained from engag­ing the con­sole fan­boy if you’re not one your­self. While they’ll broad­cast it to any­one with­in earshot, every­thing they say is said for the pur­pose of com­fort­ing them­selves, which doesn’t require the par­tic­i­pa­tion of a sec­ond par­ty. Of course know­ing all of that may not make it any less annoy­ing when a fan­boy inter­rupts a dis­cus­sion that you’re hav­ing to wave his metaphor­i­cal dick in your face, but per­haps it might save you the time and a headache by mak­ing it even just a lit­tle eas­ier to ignore. HinkleConsoleOpinionConsole,Fanboys,Opinion(Disclaimer: The opin­ions expressed in this arti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent those of the staff and/or any con­trib­u­tors to this site.) Console fan­boys are ubiq­ui­tous to the hob­by, pop­ping up when­ev­er a chance presents itself to do a lit­tle cor­po­rate cheer­lead­ing. They’re such an…
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Darrell Hinkle
Life long lover of videogames, writer of thought­ful rants and reviews. Budding video pro­duc­er. Tired of all the bull­spit in media.
Darrell Hinkle

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