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The Difference Between a Fan and a Fanboy


So the announcement of the Wii U's price and release date came and went this week, and seemed positively received for the most part. I for one was pleased with the pricing of the bundles and what will come with what I plan on getting, which is the premium bundle. I also think it's got a solid selection of games lined up for it's first few months of availability. So yeah, I was pleased and very excited.

And why wouldn't I be, I'm a Nintendo fan. Have been since I was 4 or 5 years old when me and my brother got a NES for Christmas. Since then, Nintendo has always been one of very few companies that I still love, that warms my cynical, icy heart on a regular basis. Over 20+ years, this fandom has gone through many levels of intensity, through the golden age of the Super NES to the uncertain days of the Gamecube, to the all-inclusive days of the Wii. I always stuck by Nintendo, and in my opinion they've always stuck by me. Something about their philosophy towards game design has always agreed with me. Don't misunderstand me, I'm by no means exclusive to Nintendo. I own all the current consoles and portables, save the Vita. But Nintendo has always been my preferred platform. My first and true love, if you will.

In other words, I'm a Nintendo fan, not a fanboy. A few years back I worked in a local mom-and-pop store that bought and sold used video games, as well as new games. Think Gamestop, but with much less corporate bullshit. I enjoyed working there for the most part. The pay was shit but it was a fairly laid-back environment that allowed me to talk about video games all day. Many video game oriented discussions were had during my time there, but one of the more frequent discussions was that of the fanboy and brand loyalty. I saw fanboys (and girls) of all kinds on a daily basis, and heard many outrageous opinions as a result. Being an employee barred you from arguing with these people of course, but the employee debate after they left was always interesting. Though many times these debates would lead to accusations of brand allegiance amongst the employees, some false, some legit, but most in teasing. Predictably, I was labeled the Nintendo fanboy on the staff.

But these daily back-and-forth's eventually led me to define a personal philosophy. I took issue with the label 'fanboy' for some reason. I felt it meant that any criticism I lobbed toward a company other than Nintendo was not to be taken seriously, as if I was just slandering the target of said criticism. I felt it meant any positive thing I said about Nintendo was just a product of blind devotion, rather than a carefully calculated opinion.

So I came to the conclusion that I was a passionate Nintendo FAN, as opposed to a raging fanboy. I would point out that I gave credit when credit was due, and dished out criticism when it was due. A fan is obviously loyal to his preferred company and sings it's praises when it's deserved, but will also swallow his pride when that company makes a glaring mistake and criticize them accordingly. In turn, the fanboy will usually execute mental gymnastics to convince himself and others that that mistake, in fact, is not a poor decision just misunderstood. The fanboy will say outrageous things to defend his preferred company as infallible, and will say outrageous things when others supposedly betray that preferred company.

Which leads me to my inspiration for writing this blog post today. This Thursday, when Nintendo announced the price and release date of the Wii U, they also announced the development of Platinum Games' Bayonetta 2, and that it would also be a Wii U exclusive. One might think that such an announcement might be met with celebration. It's fairly well known that Bayonetta 2 was already in development, but was cancelled by Sega earlier this year due to financial difficulties as well as a change in the companies overall direction. So why wouldn't people be overjoyed by this announcement? Nintendo, wanting to win over the so-called 'hardcore'* audience this time around, saw an opportunity and picked up a game that apparently no one else wanted to make.

*I say "so-called hardcore" because the term is greatly misused in my opinion. To me, "hardcore" should mean you play all games on all platforms, not just the ones with guns and blood in them. Kind of like how most M rated games are anything but mature.

What you probably saw looked a little bit more like this:

Now to be fair, there were many positive tweets sent Platinum's way, ecstatic that Bayonetta would be returning. But we all know too well that the angry minority (if that is indeed what they are) will scream the loudest while the happy people are usually content to celebrate privately and leave it at that.

When I saw that photo, I had flashbacks of other similar events of fanboy outrage. Namely Devil May Cry 4 going multi-plaform, Monster Hunter 3 going to the Wii, or Final Fantasy XIII also going to Xbox 360. And while those rage incidents were utterly absurd, I feel this is unprecedented. This takes it to a whole new level. I don't remember anyone threatening to kill themselves and/or others when Resident Evil went Gamecube exclusive. Seriously, this kinda worries me.

I'm sure these amount to nothing more than empty threats. I don't expect anyone will actually kill themselves or anyone else over this. If anything, Like the DMC 4 debacle, people will boycott and do other ridiculous stunts until they finally get over it and eventually forget about it. Did any Sony fanboys actually go through with their silly threat not to buy Devil May Cry 4 because it also came out on 360? I haven't even heard of anyone actually doing so, but I'm guessing the game sold pretty well on both platforms despite them.

I can understand the sentiments of SOME of these people. Nobody wants to buy a $300+ console for just one game, and I would never ask them to consider doing so. I do have to say that I don't think many of those people writing the tweets above have any idea what games are actually gonna be on the Wii U. Then again, a lot of them probably don't know what games are gonna be on the next system they do buy. I was working at the aforementioned game store when the PS3 launched, and I can't tell you how many people would come in to buy the "Sony Gamestation" only to drop $600 dollars on the system and then ask, "Ok, so what games does it have?" Seriously, all these people wanted was the brand.

So I guess my final point is a question. Why would a fan(boy) of a game series try to justify outrage at that series being saved from franchise purgatory? Just because you don't like, or even despise the company that at least had the good sense to step in and do something? Do they really expect Nintendo to ruin it by toning it down and replacing stiletto guns and witchcraft with candy and rainbow guns? In the N64 days I loved Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark, but I didn't rage and threaten boycotts when Rare brought those games to 360. I gave them a chance, and I also was glad that others who didn't have the opportunity to play them now would. Sadly, I didn't end up liking Perfect Dark Zero or that Banjo sequel very much, but those games had every right to exist, even on a system that wasn't my favorite.

My final final point (yeah, I know) that I want to make is that fanboyishness and closed-mindedness is never beneficial to anyone. I see it in religion, in politics, and many other aspects of life where it only serves to hold everyone back. If you refuse to buy a Nintendo system or just hate Nintendo because they're for kids or they don't get 'teh hardc0rz gamez' that you like then fine, but don't hold it against them when they try to change your mind. And don't hold it against Platinum Games because they just want to make fun games (and are damn good at that). Yeah, it would be nice if every game were multi-platform, but that's just not how it is. If you really are a Bayonetta fan, maybe just pay attention to the Wii U from now on and if it builds up a library with enough games you might like, then consider getting one when the price drops or something. And if you really, really need to be mad at someone, be mad at Sega ;)
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About Cynic without a Causeone of us since 1:52 PM on 04.03.2010

I am cynical, I do not know why
Xbox LIVE:Judge Judd
PSN ID:Judge Judd
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