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Ambre's blogroom on MMORPG.com

A place to share my ideas, expectations, thoughts and impressions about my favorite gaming genre : MMORPGs. I plan to write articles about the games I play, the new MMO releases, but also some meta-theory about MMO design and virtual worlds.

Author: Ambre

Why Fanboism is bad for the players, and for the games (part 1/2)

Posted by Ambre Monday September 7 2009 at 3:34PM
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Fanboism has become a new trend as well as a new expression used more and more on the MMO boards those last two years.

Fanboism, as it is related to the MMO genre, primarily describes the attitude of a player who will defend a game blindly, up to the point that he won't tolerate any form of critic toward the game, and any negative comment will be met by sheer aggression. This definition is obviously a bit rough as there can be a large range of so called fanboys, but if you have been off the boards for those last two years it should be enough to catch up and understand what we're talking about. Usually calling someone a fanboy, or 'fanboi', is just another way to say his opinion doesnt matter, and of course the term has been abused alot in one way or another.

Nethertheless, 'fanboism', as it is related to the MMO genre, has been a pretty recent phenomenon, and this article will focus more on the phenomenon itself.

(A pure fanboy stereotype...)

 

I will define and distinguish between two forms of 'MMO fanboism', that to my mind are essentially different one from each other.

- The post-launch, or 'gaming' fanboy. He has set his heart on a released game, he's playing the game right now, enjoying it alot, and he wants to share his enthusiasm.

- The pre-launch, or 'non-gaming' fanboy. He is hyping and arguing over a game he hasnt played, mostly because the game doesnt exist yet , or only in a very closed alpha stage.

 

I don't really have a problem with the 'gaming' fanboy. His reasoning is quite simple, and we can all fall into this trap once in a while.

1. I like this game alot => 2. this is a great game => 3. everyone should like this game => 4. people who don't like it or bash it are just stupid haters.

Obviously 1 is fine, and so is 2 as long you don't lose your essential capacity to relativize, that is to say : 'this is a great game (for me)'. But 2 => 3 is more than suspicious. When you cross this line, usually you've just gone totally wrong, and I think I don't need to explain why. Our history is full of people who thought that their ideas, their theories, their 'ism' were the best and should be adopted by everyone for the sake of all whether they like it or not, and they have always proven to be gone totally wrong.

Let's say that the post-launch or 'gaming' fanboy has just lost his balance and inner capacity to relativize, being driven by his sheer and genuine enthusiasm. As I said, anyone can make this mistake once in a while.

 

(A caricature showing that people can be pretty harsh with the fanboys...)

 

Let's now look at the second category, the pre-launch or 'non-gaming' fanboy. There is a fundamental difference here : this guy just doesnt play the game, and most of the time his game doesnt even exist yet. He's talking about something he hasnt played and he knows nothing about, but the the very positive comments the company developping the game has sold him. And still it's enough for him to take a very defensive position and feel offended by anyone who could genuinely doubt about his 'precious'. The scheme would be the following :

1. I think I will like this game alot => 2. This will be a great game => 3. Everyone should see right now that this will be a great game => 4. People who are doubtful or think the game won't be that good are just wrong, I need to step in and correct them.

The process of thought is pretty close to what we just described for the gaming fanboy. But the main difference is : none of this reasoning is supported by experience. Essentially I would say that 1. is already wrong. And that makes a world of difference because that's not only his thought process that is flawed but its basis also.
Of course it's fine to read about an incoming game and be excited. Let's say you were a fan of the Diablo series for example, and they're really close to release Diablo 3 : you're excited because you're eager to play the game. That's pretty normal. Or let's say they have just announced Diablo 3 and given a few hints about what is going to be in the game. Still you know that the game is not meant to be released before a few years. So you say to yourself 'cool they gonna make it, well it's still a long time to go anyway, we'll see'.
But when we're talking about a game that has not even been played by anyone, still doesnt exist except on the drawing board, and players start to take a form of pleasure from it, there is something biased and wrong. How can you enjoy something that doesnt exist ? You're not playing the game, right, you're playing with your imagination of the game. And as your imagination will prefer to conceive a perfect game rather than a flawed one, you start not only to refer, defend and argue about something that just exists in your imagination, but your action and thought process is totally disconnected from any form of experience and reality.
 
When you start to hype a game that doesn't exist, you just draw some pleasure from somewhere  where there should not have been any form of pleasure in the first place, or a really limited one. It's like spending money you don't have, as simple as that. You might probably be the first person to be really disappointed with the game once it's released and you've played it enough to find out that, of course, it can't meet your 'perfect imaginary' expectations. In other words, you have already burnt yourself out on this game.

 

Read part 2 here.

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