Teh Bias: The Evolution of Dexter’s Bias

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[People have had time to collect their thoughts, and I am back from vacation, so Monthly Musing blogs are ready to be promoted! Our first blog is from Dexter345, who uses his awesome science and graph-making powers to take a careful look at how his biases evolved with each generation. Want to post your own Monthly Musing? Click on this and start writing! — JRo]

Bias. It’s a word we hear all too often when discussing our favored passion. It’s no wonder, considering the diversity of the medium and the high cost of entry. Still, I think the negative connotations of the word are more linked to irrational versus rational behavior than simply favoring one thing over another.

Do you like Console A better than Console B for Reasons X, Y, and Z? That’s fine. Do you go on the Internet and write about how Game Theta (I’m running out of variables here) is terrible because it’s exclusive to Console B? Eh, not so much.

Certainly, I’d like to think that I’ve been rational in my bias over the years. But I’ll need to examine my history more closely to be sure.

 

It begins with the third generation of videogame consoles, because although my dad had an Atari 2600, I was too young to really get what was going on. But when I was about five years old, my parents got me a Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m not sure it’s even fair to say I had any bias at that point. I personally had little say in which games were purchased for me, and I had never even heard of the Sega Master System. Certainly, I was a Nintendo kid, but I’m not sure I knew it at the time.

During the fourth generation of consoles, I really began to show some bias. My parents bought me a Super Nintendo, but for the life of me I can’t remember if I had asked for it, or if they had just heard it came out. I still had little say in which games I got, and I still didn’t even know what a Sega was. That is, until I met my friend Josh, who lived down the street and was a Sega kid through and through. He was definitely biased against Nintendo (likely due to the “Sega does what Nintendon’t” ad campaign), and since he’s older than I am, I took a lot of what he said to heart. Of course, I didn’t believe him for long, because most of my time spent on his Genesis involved me as Tails, getting ditched constantly until I was needed to fly Sonic up to some unreachable area. Thinking back now, I wouldn’t be surprised if that one memory colored my opinion on Sega for the rest of my life.

Entering the fifth generation, there was only one choice for me. I had an NES, I had an SNES, obviously I wanted a Nintendo 64. But while I loved many of the games on my N64 (Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Goldeneye, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros.), something had changed in me from before. Late in the SNES’s life, I happened to introduce myself to RPGs, and I was hooked. After a single disaster of an RPG on the N64 (Quest 64), I decided that I needed to look elsewhere. My Nintendo bias was palpable at this point, and my anti-Sega sentiment left the Saturn out of the question. But what of this PlayStation I had heard about? “Does Sony even know what they’re doing?” I thought. After a friend showed me Final Fantasy VII, I was sold. Most of my time, energy, and money was spent on the PlayStation during this time period.

Going into the sixth generation, I wasn’t totally put off by Nintendo, but certainly a bit disappointed. Whereas I had grown and matured, Nintendo didn’t seem to grow with me. I did still appreciate the whimsy of Nintendo’s games, but I strongly desired games with deeper themes and thought-provoking gameplay. My bias pointed me toward the PlayStation 2 for that. Of course, this trip through my gaming history is a brief one, so it would be easy to forget that at this point, I was of an age where I could obtain my own money and buy my own stuff. After finishing Final Fantasy X and Tony Hawk 3, I missed what Nintendo had been providing me, so I bought myself a GameCube. My time was spent pretty equally between these two, and I scoffed at the new and mysterious Xbox. Clearly, it looked like Microsoft wanted a piece of the pie without knowing anything about games, and somehow I forgot that I thought the same thing about Sony previously, and was proven wrong. When I first saw Halo, I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. Then a friend described to me what the Xbox could do. Four Xboxes hooked together, for a sixteen-player LAN? I tried it. I couldn’t stop playing it. Toward the end of the sixth generation, I had all three major consoles, and a fair amount of games for each. It’s difficult to say whether I was biased at this point; I had the most games for the PS2, my favorite games were on the GameCube, and I bought all of my multiplatform games on the Xbox because I had heard it was the most technically powerful of the three.

With about equal respect for all three of the sixth generation consoles, it was entirely up to the PR people to sell me on which of the seventh generation consoles to get first. Perhaps it was tinged with nostalgia, the idea of my favorite Nintendo franchises, and the talk of the Virtual Console, and but mostly, Nintendo sold me on the idea that motion control would be the future of gaming. I saved up my money and bought a Wii the day it was released. I was pleased, but I clearly wanted something else. I now own all three of the current consoles, but I think the order in which I obtained them is extremely important to how much I enjoy them. See, I got an Xbox 360 long before I got a PS3, and while the two systems are nearly identical in function, the extra time with a 360 has allowed me to build up a friend list and a library of downloaded games.

This brings us to today. If you were to ask me whether I have any console bias, I would say that I absolutely do. Exclusive games that I want for any of the three, I will buy and enjoy. Multiplatform games, however, I will get on the Xbox 360 with little exception. The main reason for it now is simply Xbox Live. There are times when I decide to play games, but don’t know what I want to play in particular. For this, I boot up my 360, see what people on my completely full friend list are playing, and see if I can join in. This functionality is not present on the Wii, and seriously gimped on my PS3, because I have fewer friends and fewer games on it. Some other factors contribute to my Xbox 360 bias, such as the robustness of the XBLA library in comparison to PSN or WiiWare, and that the controller feels best in my hand, but if I had to name one thing, it would definitely be Xbox Live.

It’s interesting to look back and see how my bias has changed throughout the years. I started as a full Nintendo fanboy, though more through circumstance than any rational explanation, I went to Sony for the stuff that could be done on CDs rather than cartridges, I leveled out when all of the consoles were essentially interchangeable, and then moved toward Microsoft with their superior online service (a function which, admittedly, compounds upon itself). If I tried to objectively evaluate my preferences over the years, I would say that they have been based on reasonable factors, and I have been completely rational about it.

But then, I can’t evaluate myself objectively, becaure I’m probably biased.


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Author
Darren Nakamura
Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strategy, and rhythm games, he takes particular interest in independent games. He produced the Zero Cool Podcast for about four years, and he plays board games quite a bit when he can find willing companions.