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Loving games to death

Before I dive straight into the hot topic I'm going to be discussing here, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Joe Martin and I'm a new Staff Writer here at bit-tech. I'll be responsible for feeding you all the latest games news, reviews and rumours from now on.

I've already been working for the site for a month, but getting known in bit-tech's community is a slow process. Hopefully this will go a long way towards people getting to know who I am in the forums -- I post under the handle of 'CardJoe'.

So; I'm Joe, I studied English Language and Creative Writing at University and I'm obsessive about the games I play. I have been ever since I played The Secret of Monkey Island on the Amiga A500+ and decided I wanted to be just like Guybrush Threepwood, right down to the funky coat he had in the second game. That may not seem important right now, but bear with me.

Anyway, it's nice to meet you and I love what has been created here -- both on the front page, and in the closely-knit community.

Getting back on topic, I may as well give you a little background to this issue. You see, this is my first column since I wrote for my student newspaper and I've been finding it kind of stressful to get going. I originally wanted to write something about Sony's marketing techniques and the backlash it has been receiving for it, but I ran into a few fanboys in the days before and decided I should probably return to that issue at a later date when I can command a little more authority.

Pushing that topic aside, I tried to write a more general article that would introduce me to bit-tech readers that don't know me yet. Unfortunately, I'm a fairly boring guy and only managed to get three paragraphs out before I fell asleep on my desk. I even went so far as to try and write a piece outlining what I believe may be the downfall of one of the best consoles ever released.

To save myself from the fanboys again, I'm not going to let you know what console I think that is... at this moment in time.

Eventually I gave up and slumped back in my chair. I tilted my monitor's rear-view mirror a bit so I could be sure Tim wasn't going to sneak up on me and I spent a few minutes cruising the forums of various sites that I hold close to my heart. While I was there I happened to find something interesting; a radio play based on the third Monkey Island game. I sat back for a minute and listened to a little bit of it while I worked on a news story.

Then, in the back of my head, cogs started turning. It dawned on me that I wasn't just listening to some guys and gals who made a radio play in their spare time, I was listening to some truly obsessive fanboys!

My world shook and trembled as I realised that the fanboys (and fangirls -- Ed.) that I had previously dismissed as only appearing in stupid YouTube videos when new consoles were released, were in fact everywhere. They had infested all the game communities I held sacred. Was it even possible that I had become a fanboy for certain franchises without ever realising it? I've been known to be partial to a bit of Castlevania, but...

Oh noes, etc.

Perhaps part of my over-reaction was to do with how the term fanboy is used as an insult across forums everywhere. Fanboys are portrayed as foolish, biased, one-sided people who barge into arguments without allowing their opinions to change. They have their points of view about such subjective things as which console is the most l33t firmly fixed in place from the offset, often for unfathomable reasons.

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Joe Martin

This portrayal is mostly true of console fanboys and, as I mentioned before, I've run into a few of them since I started here at bit-tech. It isn't just the console fans who are guilty though. Hardcore games fans may also end up damaging the games they love, even if only to themselves. The Fallout 3 forums are already bristling with rivalry and uberfans who, in their attempts to guide and shape the expectations of others, end up pushing their own hopes so high that they cannot help but be dashed.

The problem with these fans is that, although they think they are doing good, by coming out so strongly and proclaiming that one system or game is better than another and doing it in such frabjously stupid ways, they just end up turning others against them and making themselves objects of ridicule at the same time. Aggressive fanboys just put people off of the console or game they are protecting, reducing demand and damaging it as a product.

Its something that I, forever forcing my friends to play my favourite games, am guilty of too. Only recently though have I come to appreciate how this 'hard sell' technique adopted by the most fervent fans rarely works. Fanboys are like viruses, and possibly one of the reasons the PS3 has had to withstand so much flak is because its fans try to defend it so brutally and end up pushing potential fans away in fear or annoyance.

Now, fanboys aren't always harmful and I'm sure that the Curse of Monkey Island radio drama or play isn't going to be really damning to the future of the Monkey Island series, but too much interest may stifle the franchise and ultimately prove as fatal as too little if fans aren't careful to keep their passions in check.

But is there anything we can do to stop frothing fanboys from ruining their favourite franchises?

Honestly, I'm not sure. There may always be an element of a community that ends up loving something to death. Can we really each look inside ourselves and try and calm the inner beast? Can we try and prevent ourselves from flying off the handle if somebody says Nintendo smells and allow ourselves to walk the fine line between wrong love and no love?

I'd like to think so, but realistically I'm not so sure. I know I'm going to try and not be so forceful on the forums when I insist someone play The Secret of Monkey Island or Beyond Good and Evil, both of which populate bargain bins globally. On a wider scale though, the majority of fanboys are too engrained in their rants for my plea to even be a blip on their radars.

In the end, there will always be fanboys that disagree with you and I at whatever cost, but as someone that's spending a lot of time with lots of different products and games, all I can do is let you know what I'm thinking and hope my advice is useful to you.