Are Fanboys Destined to Rule the World?

Are Fanboys Destined to Rule the World?

Considering the lack of commercials for Fallout 4 , I find the hype surrounding the game to be astounding. While excited to play it – I’m currently waiting for my computer to finish downloading it via Steam – I’ve not allowed myself to board the same hype train as everyone else seems to have. I tend to enjoy games when I keep my expectations low and my mind open, and it almost always – depending on the quality of the game – pans out. By doing so, I’m less likely to lash out at reviewers if I see their scores as too low. That said, even though I’ve come a long way since my teenage years, which I spent arguing the merits of the PS3 over the Xbox 360 with my classmates, I still can’t help but be a fanboy, and I’ve come to accept that.

According to Lifehacker , the psychology of being a fanboy or fangirl stems from social identity theory, in which “your idea of self-concept is derived from the social group you identify with.” This could explain the passion I see from friends and family members every time they root for their favorite sports teams, and later rip on their least favorite teams. How does this tie into games? Well, interestingly, social identity theory also applies to the material goods we own.

And in theory, I don’t think it’s that bad of a thing to be a fanboy, in the sense that you prefer one brand over the other. You’re a consumer, and you have finite income dedicated to entertainment; you need to research a console that best suits your needs. Not to mention the games you grow up playing largely influence your decisions as an adult–just look at the spell Nintendo has cast over its fanboys. But fanboyism rears its ugly head once it leads to attacks. At this point, fanboys no longer just feel passionate by the things they love; they’re also driven by the need to feel better than others, or as psychologist Jamie Madigan states, to be of a higher status.

“Part of who you are—and how you communicate that to others—is defined by what groups you belong to. And we naturally want to belong to high-status groups, right? Okay, fine, but everything is relative; a group isn’t high status unless there’s a low status group for it to be contrasted against. So not only do some people identify themselves as Xbox fans, they attack PlayStation owners in order to raise their status. This tendency is human nature, the researchers concluded, and a lot of other data support them. What’s more, we’re perfectly willing to do it at the drop of a hat.”

This one was kind of a shock to me, and although in retrospect I shouldn’t be surprised. Even sports fans tend to do this – just look at OU and UT fans – they often put each other down. Even if the teams are at one point relatively equal, at least in terms of comparing win to loss ratios, I’ve never heard any of my friends rooting for either side admit that the opposing team has some merit. Part of this could be fun, and indeed, I have had fun bullshitting with friends about which console is better. Part of it is, well, you’ve all been in a comments thread, haven’t you?

Are Fanboys Destined to Rule the World?

The other theory Lifehacker presents is the sunk cost fallacy, and I wasn’t surprised when I read the explanation. Consoles are expensive, and, as I mentioned previously, purchasing one (should) requires extensive research. But suppose you picked a console that failed to provide you the satisfactory bang for your (hundreds of) buck? Well, nobody likes to admit that, and to switch consoles might not be financially viable.

Finally, Lifehacker explains fanboy defense tactics with choice supportive bias. Of all the consoles, games, and everything else on store shelves, you’ll believe that the one you walked out with is the best one. We have the ability to create false positive memories in order to protect ourselves from buyer’s remorse.

Before approaching this article, I had long suspected that the root of fanboyism stems from insecurity, but I’m happy that there are specific biases and theories that can be applied to it. But how do we get over our insecurities and thus keep our inner fanboy or fangirl in check? Well, the solution doesn’t seem to be likely, as fanboyism is engrained into our nature. The best we can do is try to be mindful when speaking with other gamers online, even if they did purchase an Xbox One instead of a PS4.

Source: Lifehacker

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