Fanboyism is and will always be a delicate matter: it’s the fanboys who get blamed when a game’s reputation is destroyed, they’re the ones who truly, madly, deeply hate the “others” (which, in our case, is either the PS3 or the Xbox 360) and will do their best to at least humiliate you if you fall under the sway of the “wrong religion”, but still they are the ones who spice up the industry and, thanks to their more hardcore nature, they could be considered the foundation of the industry. So, after all, are fanboys as bad as everybody considers them to be? Not really!
But before detailing on that, let’s see what are fanboys, after all. Wikipedia has a pretty solid definition: fanboys are “devoted to a single subject in an emotional or fanatical manner, or to a single point of view within that subject, often to the point where it is considered an obsession “. The Urban Dictionary has a funnier (but sometimes true) definition: “A pathetic insult often used by fanboys themselves to try and put down people who don’t like whatever it is they like”. In other words, to keep it simple: PS3 fanboys hate everything Xbox 360-related, while Xbox 360 fanboys hate everything PS3-related.
And that doesn’t sound too well, does it? We can say that fanaticism is the root of all evil and, even though video games-related fanaticism is, thankfully, not as dangerous as other types (religion and football are the first ones to cross my mind if I think “bad fanaticism”), it’s still incredibly annoying, utterly disgusting and generally very, very stressful, both for the fanboys themselves, as well as the “neutral” gamers. Not to mention the fact that reasonably debating with a console fanboy about the strengths of the other console, as well as trying to get an objective opinion regarding such a product is nothing but an epic fail and you’ll most likely be called “gay” at least three times in the process.
So fanboys are evil, right? They’re blindly following their favorite console, extending that fanaticism to its manufacturer and some exclusive products, trying to blast the soul out of anything else which stays in the way. For example, they’re ruining aggregated scores on console-exclusive games (remember LittleBigPlanet, or Gears of War 2?) and criticize the products as often as they can, in as many places as possible. Still, let’s be honest! Although unfairly criticizing products on open forums and popular websites could influence some people, I doubt things like Metacritic averages will convince too many people not to buy that specific product (ATTENTION: I’m talking about user scores here, and not review averages!). It is still a cheap way of “doing bad things” which certainly doesn’t look nice on the game’s page, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Even more, Metacritic now pays more attention to these user reviews, and the problem will be, at least partially, solved.
Still, fanboys are noisy, they are messy, they won’t generally back up from calling you names or becoming a bit too violent (language-wise), but they’re ultimately harmless. They do like to verbally fight with their opponents, they do like to drive people mad, but they’re harmless. And actually, they’re doing some good to the industry, as I said in the intro.
Why? Because, thanks to their hardcore nature, thanks to their fanaticism, they’re solid, constant buyers. They dedicate most of their free time to improving the quality of the products on their favorite console (by reporting bugs, suggesting improvements, being active supporters in the forums and providing feedback). They care, more than anybody else, about the product they love. And, as strange as it might sound, as “cold and indifferent” the big companies (Microsoft and Sony in our case) might appear to be, they certainly care about their customers’ opinion. They certainly have their hearts filled with joy when they hear nice words addressed to them, that’s what keeps them going, that’s what keeps them improving (of course, the money element matters a lot here, but let’s not ruin the moment!).
Apart from that, if you neutrally look at the whole fanboys war and manage not to get involved or care too much about it, you’ll notice that it’s something quite entertaining. As long as you’re not part of that, you’ll have fun – it’s like a good action movie with comedy elements and a neverending story. It’s here, it’s part of the industry and, instead of brutally blaming it (the fanboyism phenomenon), instead of trying to stop it and even instead of trying to ignore it, we’d better try to accept it. It would be much easier for everybody: it’s clearly something that can’t be controlled, it’s clearly something you can’t stop – it’s in the human nature. And that’s life!
Personal note: Please, do not get me wrong! I do believe that we’d be a happier community if fanboys didn’t exist, I personally don’t like the noisy fanboys because they’re generally people you can’t reason with and eventually each discussion both parts take part in will turn into “my console is the best” vs “no, my console is the best”. I can’t actually understand the reason behind being a fanboy (because, ultimately, they win NOTHING – absolutely nothing out of this: no free games, no free hardware, no extra support, no girls, no statues, nothing), but I can accept that they’re part of the community. Even though sometimes they hide that, fanboys are humans too. So let’s not blindly blame them just for being fanboys – although it could be wiser not to team up with them, either!