Rick at Netjak has a good piece about Fanboys and what makes them tick. He says
… what makes the fanboy tick? It’s quite simple, really. Fanboys are the result of people who felt like outsiders for so long finally getting a modicum of acceptance.
I’d have to partially disagree with Rick on this point. Perhaps some of the younger “fanboys” fall into this grouping, but I’d say us older “fanboys” (and Rick says he’s a Nintendo fanboy at heart, as am I) are fanboys for sentimental reasons.
He correctly points out that the fanboy phenomenon isn’t confined to video game enthusiasts. He points out that sports fans and car snobs also exhibit the same type of irrational behavior. I would agree but, again, I’d say there are deeper, sentimental reasons. I’m a huge sports fan. I love most Ohio sports teams (Indians, Browns, Cavs) but I don’t have any emotional attachment to any of these teams. I don’t fly into a crazy rage when someone says the Cleveland Browns stink. But disparage my Ohio State Buckeyes and I’m liable to come out swinging. Okay, it’s not that bad, but I do have an emotional attachment to my Buckeyes. Why? First, I grew up watching OSU football with my dad. He’s a die-hard fan and he instilled a little of that Buckeye love in me. When it came to picking a college, OSU was an easy choice. I spent 5+ years at OSU and, in the process, became emotionally attached. It’s not just The Ohio State University it’s My Ohio State University. I have love for my school. It was (and still is) a big part of my life. It’s a connection that I’m sure others can attest to.
I am an OSU fanboy.
And it’s not just me. My wife, also an OSU alumna, gets teary-eyed when the OSU band comes out on the field. When we sing OSU’s alma mater Carmen Ohio, I get the chills and have to fight back the tears. People look at me funny when I tell them this, but it’s a spiritual experience. It might sound odd, but I have that kind of connection with Ohio State. Like I said, I’m a fanboy. I have an irrational love for OSU.
That’s why I partially disagree with Rick’s assessment of what makes a fanboy tick. I am also an admitted Nintendo fanboy. What does my love of all things Nintendo stem from? A sentimental attachment built on fond memories of my gaming childhood. The first game I remember beating was Kid Icarus. I loved that game. I still remember the satisfaction and pride I felt when I finished it. Another great memory I have is opening the box of my Super Nintendo. I saved up enough money to be able to afford it on the day it was released and I still remember grinning ear to ear when I popped Super Mario World in for the first time. Those are fanboy “character building experiences.”
Unfortunately, I also think Rick is partially right about the inner workings of the fanboy pysche. He speaks of gamers feeling alienated from other people because of their love of games (or perhaps because of their nerdiness). Finding a group of like minded people with similar devotions is reassuring. But, as Rick says, because there’s always the, “fear that said alienation will again begin one day, fanboys are almost violent in their devotion to a company.” So true.
So in the end, there are two classes of fanboys (and girls). Those that cherish their memories and may take it a little personal when someone attacks their company of devotion but they can shrug it off. Unfortunately there is another type of fanboy who takes it as a personal affront to his manhood when their system/company/game of choice is vilified.
The real trick is to be able to tell the difference. I contend it’s not hard at all.