Friday, February 19, 2010

My first "Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V"

This is a thread that was posted on my friend's private message board that I felt was an interesting conversation. It's about fanboys and how they can't get past their ignorant feelings. It's a good read. The original article is from IGN.


State of the Console (Flame) War
Editorial: Your favorite game system sucks. Mine's better.
by Rus McLaughlin

February 1, 2010 - Let's get this out of the way right up front.

The Wii is a toy intended mainly for people in diapers - infant or adult - and rest home bowling leagues. Anyone who bought it with semi-serious gaming in mind has spent three years huddled around the same handful of discs like a caveman protecting his last spark of fire. The PlayStation 3 used to be a cheap Blu-ray player; now it's a copy machine (Home = Second Life) that jumps on trends (Trophies = Achievements) years after (Sphere/Arc = Wiimote) they become trends. Unless it's full backwards compatibility or controllers with interchangeable batteries.

The PSP is losing relevance at the speed of light. The Go deserves to be the first failed platform of this hardware generation. The DS is dated to the point that Nintendo has to release a new version every year, and by "new version" I mean "new color." As for the Microsoft Exploder... well, the Xbox 360 is exactly what happens when a software company that spends years making buggy operating systems decides to build a mansion by nailing two boards together. Grading on that curve, the best a Games For Windows stamp can hope to inspire is inappropriate laughter, leaving just one perfect gaming platform: the Mac. Cue even more inappropriate laughter.

Okay, that should get just about everybody hating on me. Possibly a few Photoshop fiends are even now scrambling for my Facebook page to burn my image in internet effigy. Again. Or else you think I'm totally wrong about one of the above, and dead-on right for the rest. The more cynical and wily (but mostly cynical) among you probably figure I'm just baiting the fanboys to provoke a flame war and up pageviews.

Friend, I don't need to provoke anything. It is physically impossible for anyone to write about a specific gaming system without one rabid fanbase going extra rabid while opposing fans scream favoritism, stupidity, and/or corporate bribery. I've personally been accused of Nintendo bias, Microsoft bias and Sony bias, all in the comments for the same column. I'm rather proud of that. If I'm biased for everything, I'm de facto biased towards nothing, right?

Still, that's nothing compared to what happens when you start savaging each other. Last month, I wrote a column about Halo 3: ODST. Two hours after it posted, the opening shot was fired. An hour after that, the comments went full-bore Xbox vs. PlayStation. This doesn't apply to everyone, of course, but a sizable block of gamers will stand and defend their platform to the death, often while condemning all others to death.

They link to statistics that "prove" their claims and "disprove" the claims of others. They list standout exclusives, at least a third of which they have not played because the release dates are still months or years out, and denounce exclusives on other consoles as gold-plated turds. They do all this with the single-minded fanaticism of a sports fan with a team in the playoffs against their arch-rival. If that's not you, odds are you have no trouble picturing exactly what I'm talking about, and you hate it.

But that passion, that complete and utter devotion, fascinates me.

Certainly, a little internet anonymity makes anyone bold, but we put a lot of time, effort and money into our gaming. It means something to us. We revere the classics and eagerly anticipate what comes next. When someone calls your favorite's importance into question, it's not hard to go for your guns and come out blasting. For some, the mildest slight is enough. I'm a big fan of the Socratic school of debate, but the levels to which it's taken on any gaming message board would prompt Socrates to ask for a second shot of hemlock, please, with a cyanide chaser.

As an example, one particular commenter touted my belief that ODST didn't merit any awards (or even consideration) as absolute proof that ODST is "trash," even though I called it a good game twice in the article and once in the headline. And he vigorously maintained this position against all comers.

It's not simply enough to state an argument or counter-argument and move on. Militant gamers have to "win." Their opinions must reign supreme. All others must be called out for the glue-sniffing lies they are. The hacks who voiced them must be crushed into silence. It's not unlike the text version of a typical online deathmatch; attack, attack attack. No retreat, no surrender. Except nobody racks up points or kills. That's got to be a little frustrating.

It also makes one wonder where all this animosity comes from, so I'll link to a few statistics of my own. These NPD numbers are old (predating the PS3's very merry Christmas sales), but as of last September, if you lived in America and self-identified as an Xbox owner, there was only an 18% chance you also owned a PlayStation 3. About a third of PS3 owners also bought a 360. Xbots and PlayStationites alike bought into the Wii 42% of the time, but if you're a Nintendaddict, you don't care much for Microsoft (26% cross ownership) and care even less for Sony (14%).

The lines of embarkation are pretty clear. At some point, the majority of gamers made a choice: "This is how I game. This is my platform." Likely it was based primarily on the handful of games you really wanted to play at the time, even if they weren't released yet or even on the horizon. Brand loyalty is incredibly strong in this console generation (all current consoles being sequels to past consoles), and because the investment is so high, mere cheerleading quickly escalates to actively hating the competition.

Most flame wars aren't much more than people trying to re-validate that original judgment call, though there are genuine grievances to point a finger at. The only human I know who still owns his never-broke-down Day One Xbox 360 is IGN editor Dave Clayman, and man, does he love to gloat about it. I'm on my third. That doesn't stop many Xbots from sticking by the white monster. Possibly because they've already sunk $900 into X-software already, but mainly because those are the games they want to play.

And that platform loyalty always extends to its premiere titles. Sometimes, it even intensifies. Chris Roper, one of the more vocal Sony supporters you'll ever encounter, received a bunch of fan mail calling for his immediate firing after he awarded Uncharted 2: Among Thieves a 9.5 rating instead of a perfect 10. Keep in mind, this review posted just shy of a month before the game's commercial release. In all likelihood, not one person demanding we bitch-slap Roper's career had actually played the full game. It's even funnier to consider the backlash if Roper reviewed the game without playing it, the same way those irate fans did. And then gave it that 10.

That's one reason a lot of game reviewers hate assigning scores. A score is nice as a quick reference guide to overall quality, but it doesn't tell you anything about a game's merits or deficiencies. I see a score like 7.5 and my brain translates it as "mediocre." Hell, on a high school math test, that's a "C," right? But on this particular site, a 7.5 game is defined as Good. Worth playing, with caveats. A 9.5 sounds a lot like a recommendation to me, but it gets a vocal contingent squawking about how that screws its aggregate score. Those are people who get sweaty over statistics while forgetting the all-important details... details they'd get if they actually read the review. Video-based reviews do themselves a big favor by explaining the score before revealing it. It's a shame modern web design prevents written reviews from doing the same.

You might disagree with him, but Roper had his reasons for docking Uncharted 2 a measly half-point. He wrote a four-page review. Seriously, it's all in there. But a lot of people insist it should've done better simply by virtue of the fact that Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto 4 earned 10s. I can't honestly say that qualifies as any kind of logic, but arguing the point against a committed fanboy would be like sticking an ultra-reactionary neo-con and a Berkeley-raised neo-hippie in a bunker and asking them to agree on anything before you can bury them both in quick-drying cement. Somehow, I doubt I'd be the only one cheering the cement.

Put another way, I don't root for the gladiator. I'm here for the blood.

You guys should argue. You should champion your console, your games, your hobby. Celebrate what makes them great and challenge others to defend their favorites even as you defend your own, but don't sugar-coat it or ignore the successes of others. Anyone who does only demonstrates ignorance... not cleverness, and definitely not authority.

With the exception of the PSP Go, I own every current gaming system, including a positively evil gaming PC. We're not talking company-issued hardware; I bought them, with my money. Have they got faults? Yep. Is it fair to call those faults out? Double yep. I dined out on Sony's missteps for years (as an op-ed columnist, they really were the gift that kept on giving), I love harassing the Wii for its casual/hardcore schizophrenia, and I posted my Red Ring Diaries for the amusement of all. But the truth is, for all their issues, they're all good systems.

I'll say that again: they're all good systems.

Nintendo is this generation's innovator. Microsoft turned solo gaming into an online community. The technology under Sony's hood is a step towards the future. Anyone who thinks the Wii is just a happy meal for the kiddies hasn't played Dead Space: Extraction, Metroid Prime Trilogy or Mad World. Halo might have built the Xbox, but currently Microsoft's system sports one of the most diverse catalogues out there. Growing pains mostly over, the PlayStation 3 is now absolutely a good buy at a fair price, and it even has a solid line of A-list titles to feed it.

If you don't have one or more consoles, you are missing out on some very good games, period. Maybe not enough good games, or games that fit your particular tastes, to merit a purchase, but certainly enough to earn a piece of respect. There's nothing wrong with having favorites - I'd be lying if I said all my consoles get equal play time - or with being a vocal advocate for your team. There's also nothing wrong with enjoying the thrill of combat. Debating weak points and strong is how we help keep everyone from indie developers up to the Big Three honest. But that's tough to do when we're not honest ourselves.

So let's be honest. There's a difference between opinion and fact, and mistaking one for the other is what kicks off every flame war. Refusing to acknowledge the opinions of others keeps them going, usually straight downhill. Issuing pass/fail grades to things you haven't experienced is simply lazy non-thinking. This is a narrow way to live, but it does give one a sense of superiority. Meanwhile, the rest of us can stop trying to win the console war and just enjoy its benefits. I've got dozens of publishers and hundreds of developers trying to outdo each other for my amusement. I don't care which platform they cater to, so long as they succeed.

In my world, that's superior. Feel free to disagree.


Interesting article. I am a Sony fanboy for sure but I don't think I'm fanatic about it like a lot of fanboys. I'm looking forward to the day I get a 360 but I won't be doing it until after my PS3 backlog has been whittled down a bit and I won't be paying full price for it either.



A little insight here. "D" is a PS3 owner, and the board we are all on is 99% 360 players. It makes for some interesting discussions sometimes. Some got heated, but in the end we all appreciate, respect, and value each others opinions on gaming in general. Anyway, this was MY response to this article and "D's" thoughts.


The internet is a wonderful thing, and a devastating thing all in one. It ushered in the age of information. It made the world smaller. It gave people a voice.

The problem with all these things is that many of the freedoms and joys given to people because of the internet are taken advantage of. Especially by people of a lesser age, by people with no conscience, by people who are simply too stupid to talk so shouldn't (AVP2 reference people!) There is NOTHING wrong with being a fan boy. I'm truthfully a fanboy of gaming in general. If I'd bought a PS3 first, I'd be in the sony camp like "D" knees deep in great games. As it were, I got a 360, and I'm just the same, knee deep in great games anyway. Taking joy in a hobby is what you are supposed to do.

The vast majority of comments that are "flame-worthy" are posted by people who don't think about what they say, they just say it because they can. I will put most of the flamers in the underaged category, but there are morons out there who are of age, and once again, are simply too stupid to talk. :P I applaud "D" for sticking to his guns all this time. He's WELL outnumbered, but he likes what he likes, and respects that others like what they like. He just gives us that little opposing opinion once in a while, different is good. It creates great conversations, and leads us to want more. Hell, if it weren't for "D" applauding the PS3 so much, I likely wouldn't have bought the darn thing. :)

It's so sad that reading message comments has become so... irritating. I feel my brow crinkle a little when I hear really stupid commentary on games and systems or ANYTHING really. I'm not talking about someone who has an opposing opinion, but things like "360 sux becazz it doesn't have Uncharted". Geez...


It's food for thought, and maybe applies to things outside of gaming.


No comments:

Post a Comment