This my friends, will be the last chapter of the Guide for now. I've loved writing it, and I've loved even more the feedback you guys have given me and the discussions we've had as a result of this series. It's been the most fun I've had writing in a long time, and the reaction it's had from you lot has been better than I ever could have imagined when I envisioned it as a silly throw-away one-off article all those months ago.
But the time has come to retire the Guide, and while I'll miss writing it, I feel it's the right thing to do after ten chapters and fourteen gamers. It will though, still make the occasional irregular appearance as new subjects grab me as I go about my travels. As gaming evolves there will always be new gamer-types to catalogue and lampoon, and while they won't be here every week, new chapters dedicated to them will appear whenever one worthy of an entry crosses my path.
Until then though, enjoy chapter ten. I've saved a special one for this week, and it's one that you'll all know.
#14 - The Fanboy
Gamers vary in their love for the medium. To some, gaming is just a fun time-killer, a casual pastime to be enjoyed with friends at parties or to fill a spare evening. Others take things far more seriously, gleefully immersing themselves in as many of the experiences videogames can offer as possible, actively exploring every facet of the expression and innovation available to them through their favorite form of entertainment and enjoying the camaraderie and shared fun of the community based around it.
Perplexing however, is the gamer populating the third tier. He is rabidly enthusiastic about his hobby, saturated with videogames mind, body and soul. The games he plays go far beyond the level of media or hobby to him, becoming the very bricks and mortar of his personality, culture, and approach to the world. He wraps them around himself like a blanket inside a quilt inside a womb, funnelling them into every aspect of his life and making "gamer" his species as much as it is his recreational title. He seriously loves games, and to deny that fact would be like admiring the nice shade of green the sky turns on a warm winter night. And how does he feel he can best express the planet-shaking, heart-bursting, spirit-immolating joy he gleans from games? By refusing to play around two thirds of them, of course. Duh.
Everyone has their own personal tastes. To have those is the basic human right of every person on this planet, gamer or not, and it's that aspect of human nature which brings the most interest and stimulation to day-to-day life. In gaming, it naturally enough brings people to build their own personalized game libraries which given enough time can reflect their personalities like a mirror. No person has a static, one-note personality however, and with games the broad and complex spectrum they are, those libraries will usually be made up of a wide variety of titles covering all the varying and subtle nuances and moods of their owner.
The fanboy also uses his games collection to reflect his personality, or rather he thinks he does. In truth though, he's got it rather screwed up. You see rather than building a hoard of videogames and hardware which reflect his tastes, for one reason or another he's moulded his tastes to reflect the games he owns. In the words of the plumber he either worships as a god or regularly gouges a voodoo doll of, "It make-a no sense", and while the levels of self-control and will power he exemplifies through his mastery of denial and ability to artificially sculpt his own preferences is a miracle of psychological conditioning, at the end of the day, he's doing himself not a single favor.
Most fanboys of course, fashion their tastes based on an obsessive following of a single console manufacturer. Maybe their allegiance sprouted from a childhood love of a particular machine, or maybe the lifestyle image a company markets is the ideal being chased. Each console does have its own advantages and disadvantages clearly, and it's entirely natural to have a predilection for one over the others, all things considered on balance. The problem is however, that when it comes to that "on balance" bit, the fanboy is less likely to consider things on objective merit than he is to put a rival machine on the end of a seesaw to see how heavy it is with gay.
The fanboy's fundamental flaw is the same problem afflicting every single-mindedly obsessive fan in the world, whether the subject of affection is band, movie, musical genre, religion or political party. The simple fact that none of these people realize is that when you spend all of your time trying to wring out every single minuscule droplet of joy from a single source, you don't leave yourself time for any of the other sources. And they're just begging to be plundered. There's no point continuing to squeeze a dry sponge when there're two rivers and a pond behind you.
Like pizza? Chow down, eat as much as you like! But don't ignore the fragrant wafts of steak coming from the restaurant next door. As good a combination as they are, dough, cheese and tomatoes can only lay a foundation for so many things. Metal riffs get your pulse thumping? Great! But don't leave your headphones on so long that you don't hear that Squarepusher or Mozart track on your friend's car stereo. The more you focus, the more you miss, and the stronger your allegiance, the more limited your options.
So why do fanboys do this? Why do they eschew so much of the bounty of gaming experience and convince themselves that they're having more fun playing a miserable dog of a first-party disappointment or over-hyped exclusive than they ever could by exploring pastures new? Why in the name of all that's holy and good does their obsessive love for games twist into an obsessive hatred of so many of them? It defies logic!
The standard answer you'll get is that the average gamer can't afford every machine on the market and so becomes more attached to the one he owns. A good idea on the face of it, but consider the following. I can only afford one car. There are other cars on the market that do things the car I drive can't. I'd like them, but the cost doesn't let me buy them. How many times though, have I been found running around a car park, screaming profanities at the cars I don't own, questioning the sexuality of their manufacturers' CEOs and calling the drivers noobs? Have I ever felt the need to write a comic song about the state of the hubcaps on a certain model and the reasons they prove and indeed cause unquestionable mental retardation in the driver? Have I ever tried to justify my obvious levels of conviction in my cause by using the internet to make sure as many people I've never met as possible are "influenced" by my song? No. I have not.
The cause seems to be the same one responsible for most occasions of someone blindly changing their outlook and forging their personality to fit the values of an organization. People just like being in groups, and in the worst of cases, they'll dig themselves in so deep the dirt covers their eyes, just for the snug feeling of being buried up to the head in something. And where there is no group to join, imaginary ones will be created to facilitate membership. Thus, a consumer electronics product will become the very heart of an empire to be defended for death or glory, until the last solitary warrior stands bloodied and bruised on the battlefield, yanking his joypad or wiimote from the crushed skull of his last enemy with a spurt of blood and brain matter, to the sound of a satisfied battle cry of "Told you your framerate was crap".
The fanboy cannot be bargained with, he cannot be reasoned with, he doesn't feel the pain of bad review scores, or remorse at buying a first party clunker, and he absolutely will not stop, ever, until you admit that all the games on your console are rubbish and that every single person who owns one worldwide is an inbred homosexual with a penchant for relations with members of their own family.
He'll never admit his insecurities. He'll never acknowledge that a machine intended for entertainment is just that and doesn't in fact hold the religious significance he sees beaming out of its every fan vent. He's not hiding his uncertainty of himself behind a contrived identity based upon membership of the army of a non-existant nation. Oh no, not he.
He's fighting the good fight, hand in hand with his glorious generals at head office. They know of all the good work he's done in their console's name you see, and they really appreciate him. He's bought everything they and they alone have ever released, and every purchase has been a blow against the enemy which has made his superiors love him ever more. They're like brothers, he and they, soul-mates bonded in the heat of war, utterly inseparable and always watching each other's backs. He might have had to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to play his part while they've reaped all the profits, admittedly, but that's just the way things work.
All things will become equal come the new world order, when he and Kaz or Reggie stand atop the last conquered mountain, gazing out at the countryside, masters of all they survey. Golden sunlight will make them incandescent in the warm glow of victory, and they will quietly smile at each other, words meaningless in the face of all they have achieved. The battle will be over, and they will have won. And the world, the whole world, will be theirs. On the day the execs embrace him as family and invite him to live in their mansion built upon the corpses of the fallen, every last penny spent and every hour passed hunched over a keyboard, blood pressure rising at the lies of the infidels, will have been worth it. Until then, he'll just keep on buying, taking his brethren ever closer to the day of vindication when they'll throw their arms around him as an equal. He might throw a few more badly spelled insults at people on a couple of forums as well, because every little helps.
Everything first or second party. However unplayable, technically inept or broken, it will be the pinnacle of the art of games design, whereas everything you own will be an insult to the medium and the values of his exhalted masters. Third party exclusives give him major problems though. Their publishers can just be so disloyal to the cause. Sure, they'll pretend to be on-side with a game just for his machine, but a few months later it'll appear on another one. Turncoats. Don't they understand just how important this fight is? In those cases a game can go from being his new favorite to being unplayable dross in no time. Even looking at a game that's betrayed him can make him feel dirty.
How To Deal With Them
One phrase: STFUAJPG.
Chapter 1 - Back-Seat Gamers and Closet Gamers
Chapter 2 - Chav Gamers
Chapter 3 - Fluffy Gamers and PC Snobs
Chapter 4 - Technical Gamers and Japanophiles
Chapter 5 - Aggressive Gamers and Ghosts
Chapter 6 - The One Game Gamer
Chapter 7 - The Collecting Gamer
Chapter 8 - The Defeatist Gamer
Chapter 9 - The Tragically Unfortunate Gamer
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