Ever wondered why message boards erupt in passionate, competitive arguments? One Kombo reader has an interesting theory.
February 06, 2008
by: Oiram Zonum
"As long as people have strong opinions, there will never be a shortage of wars. And in our world of consoles, I guess it's just part of the game."
Polarization between groups of people is evident on all fronts, but is particularly poignant within the enthusiastic gaming community. At its most basic level, this gaming family is as dysfunctional as any--divided in part by petty disagreements and unrelenting opinions. The most recognizable of these (perhaps the most evident to someone who would be reading this site) is the online bickering that ensues between fans of the three major console producers, and to an extent, the PC gaming crowd. Maybe it's part of the culture that we all live in: an "us" versus "them" mentality that has become evident in politics, economics, race, gender, and other aspects of popular culture. Or maybe it's just part of the game.
What I mean is, perhaps it is the nature of our gaming culture to be competitive and divisive. After all, the early video game/arcade revolution evident in the early 80s was characterized by games that recorded "high scores" that allowed a player to etch their initials into the circuitry of that particular machine. Competitiveness bloomed within this culture (as seen in the recent film "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters") and has never really died down. Most gamers who are in their late 20s or 30s remember the competitiveness of companies such as Nintendo and Sega in the early console days, or the Street Fighter fans who derided those who preferred Mortal Kombat.
Gamers have always had something to prove to somebody.
This competitive spirit has flourished even more in the internet age, where the illusion of anonymity is enough of a safeguard to bring about bitter contests and debates. Forums and comment boards often see an explosion of staunch opinions, wedging people firmly in their camps. Then there are those who choose neither camp, but unfortunately end up being categorized as people who are too rich or elitist in nature.
Not everyone falls into these camps. As a matter of fact, I would say that the majority of people who enjoy gaming don't really think about these things at all. They are not the ones that spend a lot of time reading up on the game industry at large, and they are usually unaware that a game has ever been delayed, or that a console sold a certain number of units during a particular week or month. However, it is the vocal gaming community that is seen and heard, and it would almost seem to an ordinary person that choosing between a console system is about as important as choosing a presidential candidate.
As I read through certain comments and threads on the Internet and as I peruse information on gaming-related news, I wonder if things will always be that way. What instigates a person to deride others who don't agree with their opinion? What fun would things be if everyone saw things in the same way? Not everyone is going to agree with Nintendo's approach to gaming. Not everyone is going to enjoy a gaming marathon on Xbox Live. Not everyone will be thrilled with PlayStation exclusive games. And then I look around and realize that there is no shortage of competitiveness, even outside of the gaming sphere. As I mentioned earlier, it's almost as ruthless (and disheartening) in the political sphere (especially during an election year).
But then, I realize that I shouldn't really let it get to me. As long as people have strong opinions, there will never be a shortage of wars. And in our world of consoles, I guess it's just part of the game.