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Understanding The Fanboy: A Spotter's Guide

Jonathan Lester
Fanboys, Games articles, Meerkats, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony

Understanding The Fanboy: A Spotter's Guide

Fanboys are a very interesting species to observe, and there's no doubt that we all love to hate them. They all appear to operate in the same aggravating way to the untrained eye- but once studied, markedly different behavioural traits and tactics start to emerge between the various factions. What's more, it's important to note that they actually benefit the games industry in a profoundly important way. Fierce console rivalry creates a drive for increasingly competent games... which is primarily spurred on by their constant forum battles and playground arguments.

Thanks, fanboys. You do the hard work so that we don't have to.

With this in mind, we're not here to insult or belittle them. Rather, we're going to try and understand them- as well as the history behind their motivations.

And yeah, okay, we'll probably take the piss out of them a little.

Sony Fanboys: Scorched Earth Defence

Understanding The Fanboy: A Spotter's Guide

  • AKA: Crybabies
  • Strengths: Pack hunting, pre-emptive defence

Sony fans had to fight hard to get where they are today. The Playstation emerged into an incredibly competitive market dominated by Nintendo and SEGA, meaning that the rank newcomers had to battle for every inch of ground. The death of the Dreamcast and subsequent PS2 soon rewarded their efforts in spades (allowing them to reign supreme for a time in smug dominion)... but when the Xbox 360 launched, they suddenly found themselves firmly behind the times. During over a year of suffering under the new kids on the block, they were essentially forced to take it on the chin and wait for better days. The PS3 delivered on its promises and finally gave them something to crow about- but the vast majority of Sony fanboys haven't lost the fire and resentment born from years of playground and forum conflict.

This ancient and deep-seated angst has made Sony fanboys incredibly defensive about PS3 exclusives. Some would say precious. Not only do they hunt in packs to take down any direct threats to their favourite titles, but they swarm around practically any review that awards less than ninety percent to first party games. Brendan's GT5 review is a prime example of this primal behaviour (despite the article being largely positive)... and let's not forget their savage mauling of Gametrailers who dared to give Metal Gear Solid 4 a 9.3. Sure, you'll sometimes see them leave their comfort zone in small raiding parties, but Sony Fanboys are usually found jealously guarding their exclusives like meerkats surrounding their nests. Vicious, deadly, noisy meerkats.

PS3 fanboys, we salute you.

Microsoft Fanboys: Complex Superiority

Understanding The Fanboy: A Spotter's Guide

  • AKA: XBots
  • Traits: Unprovoked hit-and-run attacks

It's always tricky to be the new kid in town- but Xbox fans had a much easier time of it than most. They had to go through the motions when the original Xbox released at the dawn of the new Millennium, but the 360 soon released as the first- and only- truly next gen console. This afforded them more than a year of unassailable domination, where they would merrily belittle and attack every other demographic on the market. Just because they could. Nintendo and Sony fans (see above) simply had to grin and bear it as the Microsoft horde merrily lorded over them from a lofty pedestal. Xbox fanboys had every reason to feel superior at the time, and thoroughly rubbed their foes' faces in each passing innovation.

And then the PS3 arrived. The playing field quickly swung into a neutral stalemate... but once you've gotten used to being the kings of all you survey, it's nearly impossible to give up the intoxicating feeling of entitlement that it brings. To this end, Microsoft fanboys are almost always found on the offensive: delivering brutal hit-and-run judgements on Sony and Nintendo franchises and striking deep within enemy territory. Whilst most of these assaults are based on the strange belief that Gears Of War 3 will somehow make everything better, they usually lead to titanic engagements with Sony's zealous defenders. Finding an animal analogy is difficult- but the latter days of the Roman Empire works pretty well. You can only attack for so long before your dynasty starts to crumble around your feet.

Microsoft Fanboys, we salute you.

Nintendo Fanboys: A Different Breed

Understanding The Fanboy: A Spotter's Guide

  • AKA: Wiiners
  • Traits: Stages of grief

Nintendo fanboys started out like any other... but in 2006, a remarkable transformation took place that completely changed their outlook on the console war. The Wii was purposefully designed to avoid competition with the PS3 and Xbox 360, meaning that the Ninty's enormous and all-conquering army were suddenly left without an enemy to fight. After a few months of frustrated, confused and arbitrary attacks against anything that moved, they actually settled down, relaxed and accepted the situation. The Wii still offers experiences that can't be found anywhere else. Why worry?

However, there's always an exception that proves the rule- and there are always those who refuse to accept the status quo.  Interestingly, the Nintendo fan subcultures all mimic stages of coping with loss. The vast majority have moved on to beatific acceptance... but a significant number recanted their allegiance; storming off to find other battles to fight and consoles to support. That's anger right there... but a much more interesting minority are still rooted firmly in denial.

A diehard few still haven't quite grasped that the Wii is designed for unique and new types of game- and any hint that it's not a great fit for FPS games or other mainstream genres instantly causes a backlash of staggering ferocity. I rest my case.

Wii Fanboys, we salute you.

Add a comment15 comments
Gunn  Jan. 27, 2011 at 20:02

Heh nicely done, like the "Wiiners"!

Fans would rejoin and unite if Nintendo took out a next gen console to directly compete with Sony/MS but maybe that won't happen again.

Matt Gardner  Jan. 27, 2011 at 20:36

I was definitely a proper Ninty fanboy for my N64 and I nearly cried when I saw the Wii. Haven't gotten past 'Anger' yet.

...or at least that would be the case if I wasn't a completely impartial and objective commentator.


dave  Jan. 27, 2011 at 21:09

Good analysis. I'm a fairly outspoken Sony fan (although I respect what Nintendo does) and was surprised by how accurate your description was. Also our relationship with the Xbox fanboys was precisely defined.

Nice article.

Jakey Bee  Jan. 27, 2011 at 21:48

I don't say this often, but spot on. I remember the early days as a PS3 fanboy, where the tables were turned and the Xbots were the pack-hunters because they had a lot more defense. It was awful--the launch titles were awful, Resistance was the only game that we had for a backbone, and all our friends were playing Halo 3 and Gears because the console cost twice as much as the Xbox 360. But I guess it's just dependent upon who holds better ground, and PS3 will sadly soak it up in the Xbot's faces til' the next generation. See? I still haven't changed :)

PP  Jan. 27, 2011 at 21:55

What I can't understand is why anybody would CHOOSE to be a Crap - Box 360 fanboy. I mean, it's common knowledge that the 360 has crap graphics, unstable online and no exclusive games, why would wnybody want to openly support such an obvious and complete failure?

I mean, I get it. Not everybody can afford a PS3, so some had to settle for a cheaper 360 instead, there's nothing wrong with that. If thay could just admit to themselves "Hey, PS3 is too expensive, I had to get a 360 instead, that's just the way it is for now." and move on with their lives we wouldn't have a problem. However, out of some blind, jealous rage, they have actually managed to convince themselves that they don't want a PS3 and actually believe the 360 with it's no games and crap graphics is better. I don't understand that.........360 fanbabies really are in the deepest stage of denial possible.

JJ  Jan. 27, 2011 at 21:58

Brilliant article and like a lot of great humour, a fair bit of it is based in reality! At heart I'll always be a Ninty fanboy but these days I'm in the Microsoft camp just because the Wii is fun but I just can't adapt to it :/ Plus I'm in the minority that hates Mario Galaxy even after spending quite a bit of time with it...oh well. Memories!

ODB  Jan. 27, 2011 at 22:20

Rofl...are you for real??? Got to be a windup!

HO  Jan. 27, 2011 at 22:33

I have both consoles but i like my Ps3 a lot more in general, the GT5 score is bs in my concept by 1 star (not going to say that the game is perfect) but that doesn't make me a crybaby, and yes the review is somehow ok.

Matt Gardner  Jan. 27, 2011 at 22:46

I was 100% with you until you said that about SMG :D

That said, Super Mario Galaxy is still the only game I've ever played that actually physically made me feel slightly dizzy...even more so than Mirror's Edge.

Matt Gardner  Jan. 27, 2011 at 22:49

Does this mean SEGA fanboys are essentially like sleeper cells...present in all of the above subcultures but waiting for a call to arms that heralds something of a second coming?

A cross between dormant assassins and Scientologists perhaps?

Jonathan Lester  Jan. 28, 2011 at 00:13

I am a SEGA fanboy... by which I mean, I'm a broken shell of a man who now has no bias whatsoever. All next-gen consoles are equally "not Dreamcasts" to me.

The sad fact of the matter is that us SEGA lot don't really exist these days. Our beloved company was forced down the software route- and to be honest, their recent output doesn't deserve our undying praise (apart from the Gunblade/LA Machineguns collection- for which I praise them on a daily basis). At least I still have id Software...

Mick  Jan. 28, 2011 at 01:53

I used to be a Nintendo fanboy - the SNES was my first console (well, not counting the Gameboy!) and I went on to own the N64 and Gamecube. The bit about the Wii is spot on - I do actually own one and enjoy NSMB, Mario Galaxy, Excite Truck and currently DKC but it's just not the same as before. I use the PS3 more than anything these days, but really have no allegiance anymore.

Kenny Aruwa  Jan. 28, 2011 at 02:27

Jon, this is absolutely spot on!

Personally I have no allegiance to Sony or Microsoft, I play the playstation but really couldn't care less about the rivalry because neither console is the reason I wake up in the morning... as for the Wii, well... what is there to say...

In response to Matt's comment about SEGA fanboys... I think you're right, because if SEGA got themselves back in the game, I would save my pennies - not eating for a month to buy it, cherish it and love it. I'm waiting for the day... the day that will probably never come :(

Phil  Jan. 28, 2011 at 11:30

What about us PC fanboys? We can be recognised by moaning about the lack of variety in games nowadays. Also the fact you have to buy DLC to get extra maps/content rather than make your own. The sad fact is most of us own a console as well (360 in my case) but we'll always go back to the PC for a real game!

Jonathan Lester  Jan. 28, 2011 at 17:13

I'm not sure it's fair to label PC aficionados as fanboys. Fan-gentry, perhaps?

I may attempt to shed some light on PC versus Apple fanboys in a future article...


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