Fanboys: 8 reasons why they deserve some respect

Corporate statistics generally bore the crap out of us, so when the inevitable willy-waving slides get their annual airing at the Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo E3 press conferences, we tend to slip into a voluntary coma.

But it would be downright rude if no-one was paying attention, so well done to the fanboys, who gobble up the numbers and propaganda sound-bites with undisguised glee. Once assimilated, the information is stockpiled, ready to be dispatched indiscriminately into a crowded comment thread with no concern for the delicate constitution of innocent bystanders. Only fanboys possess the special kind of fanatical mental industry required to take full advantage of tedious data about impenetrable technical specifications, cyclical trends and fiscal predictions for the Latin America market.

Game communities would fade away faster without fanboys

Gamers are an incredibly fickle bunch. We flock to the newest games in droves, only to shift our patronage the moment The Next Big Thing comes along and seduces us with the promise of exciting new gameplay and virginal leaderboards. We regularly emigrate en masse, with barely a backward glance. But what happens when, in a moment of nostalgia or boredom, we decide to revisit an old online stomping ground? Will it be a tumbleweed strewn wasteland of emptiness? No. Because the fanboys are still there. Holding the fort and keeping the community - and team deathmatches - alive and kicking.

For example, with the release of Modern Warfare 2, it's reasonable to think that other shooters would have been ruthlessly abandoned. Not so. In the last 24 hours, well over a million games of Halo 3 have been played. Them's good, healthy numbers for a game that was released two years ago.But if it wasn't for the monogamous fanboys equipped with their tireless dedication refusing to shift allegiances at the sight of a shiny new game, you can guarantee that gaming communities would descend into ghost town desolation at an alarmingly accelerated rate.

Fanboys love it hardcore

As dedicated gamers, we love games that fall into the traditional definition of a game. That is, a piece of virtual entertainment that engages the player with a significant challenge. In the current climate, traditional games are also characterised as being 'hardcore'. Without hardcore games, we'd be left with casual pap. Horribly vapid, puff gaming that rewards every player - no matter their skill level - with big smiles and success.

So let's not forget that hardcore games only get made as long as there's a big enough audience willing to go out and spend their money on them. And guess who the biggest, most vocal, first-in-line advocates of hardcore gaming are? Yup, you've guessed it, fanboys. If we had an exodus of fanboys from gaming we'd be in serious danger of seeing the balance of power shift alarmingly in favour of the casual movement. We'd be overrun by even more bland party games that we'd have to play with our families. And that's a truly terrifying alternative.

Let's face it - there's a little bit of fanboy in all of us

All gamers - at least those with a bit of spunk in their veins - have at one time or another argued with heated spirit about the merits or faults of a particular game, console, character or developer. Yet we categorically deny that we are patrons of the fanboy club. Why does the truth that *all* gamers rank somewhere on the fanboy scale make us so very uncomfortable? Why are we so eager to deliver the failsafe caveat of "I own all the consoles, so I can't be a fanboy, but..."?

As we've already said, being passionate about something is an admirable attribute, but gamers seem apologetic or embarrassed about their allegiances. Perhaps we'd rather be called 'gaming enthusiasts'? But to us that just seems like a piss-weak, watered down version of a fanboy. Let's stop deceiving ourselves and jump forth from the closet like the uncontrollable fanboys we all really are.

November 17, 2009

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Matt Cundy
I don't have the energy to really hate anything properly. Most things I think are OK or inoffensively average. I do love quite a lot of stuff as well, though.