By Jonathan Marx
Fanboy: Noun - "Technocratic zealots; evangelicals of geekery.
[A person] characterized by irrational advocacy of a particular OS, console, company, or franchise. [A term] most commonly used to delegitimize contrary opinions in gaming forums" (Urban Dictionary; posted by Dr. Know, May 2005).
Fanboy is a term that has its roots in the early 80's - in the DC Vs. Marvel comic wars, when it became a crucial expletive of the geek lexicon. The use of the expression seemed to die down somewhat in the first half-decade of the 90's, but then it came back into vogue when Sony, Nintendo, and SEGA went at each other in the first major console war.
Fast-forward ten more years and the word "fanboy" has never seen more use. In fact, it is a remark that seems to be thrown around gaming forums lately more readily than insightful commentary. Typically, "fanboy" is used to disparage (often rightfully so) the overly praise-filled comments of a gamer that's blindly faithful to the gaming system they own. However, the "fanboy" label is usually administered by others, equally consumed by unquestioned fealty to a competing console. The result is a nonsensical feud that ends up tainting an otherwise substantial debate between rational posters.
Well, I'm here to diffuse the tension by letting "fanboys" of all stripes know that their passion is misplaced and misguided. On a macro-level, "fanboy-ism" helps to fuel competition between manufacturers, in an attempt to capture the hearts and minds of the gaming elite. However, on an individual level, being a fanboy is an utter waste of time and a truly missed opportunity. I've got news for all of you fanatics: Every gaming system kicks ass! That's right; the Nintendo Wii is actually cool, the 360 is loaded with great software, and the PS3 is a truly amazing piece of hardware. But don't just take my word for it. I've gone ahead and compiled the top three reasons why you should love each and every platform out there.
1) First-party software: I don't care who you are, you love Mario and the Nintendo gang. Well, the Wii is loaded with sterling first-party entries such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart Wii, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Wario Land: Shake It!, Super Paper Mario, etc. Plus, a host of great Nintendo series such as Pikmin, Kid Icarus, Punch Out!, 1080 Snowboarding, Kirby, Fatal Frame, and more are all being revived. Not to mention, we'll soon see more Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Fire Emblem titles. We may even see Yoshi, Star Tropics, Mario RPG, Duck Hunt, and Hogan's Alley games in the future.
2) Virtual Console: Nintendo has captured the old school gaming market like no other. Currently, there are 256 games available in North America and Europe from past gaming systems, including the Commodore 64, NES, SNES, and N64, SEGA Master System and Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, and NeoGeo. Players can even play Japanese exclusives once available only through import; many of them have been localized for English speakers. With new classic games coming out each and every Monday and with price tags that range between $5 and $12, retro gamers simply can't lose.
3) Casual Play: This phrase may seem like a four-letter word to the gaming hardcore. However, what many elite gamers have failed to realize is that the introduction of "non-gamers" into the gaming fold does more than just diversify (or dilute) the kinds of games available; it injects a ton of cash into the industry, legitimizes gaming as a major entertainment medium, and, in the long run, brings us better games. Here's an anecdote: when I went to get my house refinanced, I had a lengthy conversation with my lender about Super Mario Galaxy; he had actually beaten the game twice with both Mario and Luigi! Plus, he wanted to know what other games he could pick up for his little white box. The future definitely looks rosy for gaming!