or, Why you hate what you don't love.
"I" refers to many internet personas who understand why they love their console, but don't understand why they hate another. Sometimes we blame it on anonymity, while that is partially true, what its really about is the person doing the "offending" is actually the one who was offended in the first place. They don't realize this, without understanding they turn into emotional children & fire off on one of the most basic ways to argue with someone. Essentially a "my Dad could beat up your Dad" argument. If that doesn't work, it will sink into a hole of essentially just screaming nonsense like a baby.
With all the discussion happening around sexism in games, & next-gen getting ready to roll out, emotions are high. It starts with trust in Nintendo, Sony or MS, it quickly becomes blind faith. It's very difficult to find a place on the net to have a real discussion about sexism or the tech in next-gen consoles without the entire discussion deteriorating into a pool of vitriol.
To understand why this happens we first have to look into brand psychology.
There are 3 levels of consumer engagement & 5 processes in each level.
We could dive really deep into this issue. Let's only talk about the vocal crowd on the internet, & of that crowd the ones who are into gaming. If you want to skip the rest of this section I don't blame you, the gist of it is, look at how deeply Apple fans care about Apple products & think about how that applies to the image above.
Just pick one of your favorite consoles, & then look at the chart above. Once you start filling out the blanks you will begin to see how deeply a brand can get into your pysche. If you start thinking about all of the big 3, you can see how Sony is stronger in integrating & signifying, Nintendo is stronger in identifying & experiencing, while MS is stronger in connecting & integrating.
It's not surprising to see why a hardware company, a software company, & a games company have different strengths when it comes to brand psychology. Because all 5 of these layers go 3 levels deep for just about every gamer, we are very strongly tied psychologically to the brand. This is where I believe all the hate towards one another comes from.
Please replace "SONY" with any product/brand name. via www.thebuzzmedia.com
The problem is, most of us haven't thought about it this way before. Many gamers are so attached to their favorite console or game that they can't try something new without feeling like they are betraying the brand they trust most. Because we have taken this path with brand loyalty, it's tied to us on such a personal level, the discussions inevitably head that way, to a personal level, without the option for a rational discussion.
Drinking The Haterade
Here is an example when subtle fanboyism comes from someone whose soapbox is larger than the average commenter. Just yesterday Machinima talked about a leaked Next-Box SDK document that stated this:
"Durango will implement different power states so that it can always be powered on, but will draw minimal electricity when not in use. the console will be ready instantly when users want to play, & will always maintain a network connection so that console software & games are always current."
They immediately reported this as "Always On DRM", which if you read the statement it says nothing of the sort. It says that it's like the wii & can maintain a low power & update a game overnight if it needs to. It does NOT say that the console won't work if not connected to the internet.
That didn't matter however because the commenters on youtube are only listening to another brand they love & without reading the document at all, they started commenting about how ps4 already won next gen, screaming about how they won't buy the next-box because of this feature.
The other wild claim Machinima made was that the disc once installed, becomes useless, effectively blocking used games. What the doc actually states:
"Durango consoles will have a Blu-ray Disc drive. Disc media will be used for distribution, but during gameplay, games will not sue content from the optical disc. An installation system is being designed that will allow gamers to begin playing while the game is being installed on the hard drive rather than waiting until installation is complete".
It literally states absolutely nothing about not being able to trade that game in or loan it to a friend, all it means is that games are required to install, & you have to have the disc in to play. This is exactly how it is right now. The disc is used for distribution. The only thing this system blocks is me lending Battlefield 3 to 10 friends & none of us needing the disc to play after install.
This kind of discussion coming from someone more respected on YouTube like Machinima is so careless & frankly dangerous. All they accomplished was fuel a massive flame war of ridiculous comments & extreme fanboyism. When journalists don't take the time to think about what they say, why would anyone else commenting on their video or post?
Women In Games
My last example as to why the attitude of when brand loyalty goes way off the rails into the realm of borderline dangerous.
We don't need to look far to see how the gaming community reacts as a whole when someone like Anita Sarkeesian or Adam Sessler talk about an issue like this. These issues go past mere brand loyalty & are going against the gaming communities common denominator, the games themselves. This happens to be something EVERY fan can go against. Especially if they are just surfing with the tide.
Most gamers can't imagine how someone could try & have a discussion about God of War or Mario bros without being immediately offended. This is because, again, we are extremely loyal to someone like Mario or Link. We have spent countless hours saving Princess Peach, how dare Anita accuse Zelda of being a damsel in distress? To many people, that's a direct attack on the fact that we felt good about saving her. It was tied to our hard work, we defeated Bowser & his minions through incredible concentration & hand eye coordination.
As a side note, many people posted video responses to her stating that "Anita disabled comments & ratings because she doesn't want to hear opposing opinions to her theories." I think most of us know that is a load of BS. She disabled because of stuff like this:
A small minority of the internet that cares about her videos want to have a rational discussion with her, even then, their words would be buried by ridiculous childish vitriol. You can find a link to more terrible comments here, if you don't know what the fuss is about, you can read about that here.
Anita doesn't once say that Mario shouldn't save her. She just merely points out saving a princess is a stereotype that is so prevalent it has become a trope. It is. This isn't to say that there shouldn't be princess saving in the gaming world, but that all too often it's a woman relegated to the role of being helpless in need of saving, while male counterparts will find their own way out a situation.
For an industry that tries so hard to be more like hollywood, they can look at how hollywood treats various female characters. Some are sexy, some are smart, some are badass, some need saving, others do the saving. I feel that if our industry had more diversity, Anita would never have needed a series like this.
So far in the angry gamer's mind, she has insulted us on 3 different levels. Our game, our characters, and personally. That's a lot to take on for anyone.
So what do gamers do? They lash out, they bring it to the utmost vile & terrible place they can, they vandalized her page, they sent death & rape threats. It's because they are so loyal to their brand they feel so attacked in the deep recesses of their minds that such a person must be punished equally.
I desperately want to discuss video games. I love talking about the hardware specs, game mechanics, the story, the controls, gameplay, where games have come from & where they are heading. I have all but given up trying to have this discussion on the net.
We should try to be respectful of other people & their opinions. A civil internet is too much to hope for right now, but the day I see the gaming community carry this torch I will certainly be proud. What if instead of a screaming 13 year old, we were known for being intelligent & respectful in an industry that pushed all types of boundaries?
Video games are in the such a unique position to tell stories that haven't been told, to have characters that are impossible, with extremely delicate as well as brutal gameplay. Games can have incredible character development across so many hours. But the most vocal crowd has our devs scared to do anything different because we won't buy it based on some ridiculous rumor.
Without discussions about video games & the real issues they face (& can take head on), our medium will not move forward. We will always be known outside our circle as immature hate mongers with headsets. History has always relied on discussions that bring about change. That change is battled with a deep fervor for crushing anyone who might want to change something that benefits them because it might not turn out as well.
There isn't much that can be done besides leaving your rational, even tempered, logical comments on threads, videos & articles. I really want our community to grow up, there are signs of hope, I see it here everyday on polygon, so cheers to other outlets following suit.