Console Fanboys: What Makes ’em Tick? A Layperson’s Analysis

Darrell gives his thoughts and view on console fanboys, and what makes them tick.


(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.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Life long lover of videogames, writer of thought­ful rants and re­views. Budding video pro­duc­er. Tired of all the bull­spit in media.
Scroll to top