265: The Fallacy of the Fanboy

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The Fallacy of the Fanboy

When a fanboy enters any conversation about videogames, all relevance and meaningful discourse stops. Matt Meyers posits that we should all stop acting like fanboys when we are trolled by Jack Thompson or Roger Ebert.

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Brilliant article, it's exactly what I want to happen with people who play games. The 'tree fort' mentality isn't getting us anywhere and our critics can't just be badmouthed and dismissed, we have to actively promote our hobby, be seen to be good people and, yes, take our critics' opinions on board. They may demonise gaming but our blind fanatical defence won't accomplish much either and they will occasionally have a very good point.

Marvellous read. Is that the word? I hope it is.

Anyway, I agree with most of it. Our fights against someone who doesn't know what he's discussing is most of the time a waste of our own time. And what do we "win" at the end?

I still believe our major victory will come when the conservative people of today will perish and only the ones who grew up with the game ideology on their lives will continue to build this world of ours. Time conquers all. Our time will come.

Good article, but herein lies the reason why I agree with Holkins on his stance.

You can NOT change people's minds over the internet in 90% of all cases. Full stop.

Why? Because most people like their egoes too much and of what they believe is to be right...to be right.

Holkins knew, right away, that Ebert would never even begin to consider picking up a controller and actually giving it a try before talking about it. It is true, he later admitted with humility, that he should really not have spoken about games at all given his lack of experience, but he reasserted that he would never even give it a chance to change his opinion either in the very same statement.

What Holkins said was that this kind of assertiveness over the internet does not work in almost any instance. Because most people who get drawn into forum arguments are people who like to imagine, that their opinions actually matter! Hence the only satisfaction they have is derived from arguing their point, not conceding it and you know...actually change their point of view, as you have said.

The only way to convince people in our position would be indeed through having them experience it IRL. But that won't happen over the internet, ever. Only if you were to meet them in person would this become possible.

That's why I really agree with Holkins more. It's pointless and not worth the effort to try to change things over the internet. However, it is not so pointless to try and change them IRL - that is another matter entirely.

Honestly, I doubt it is possible to change the mind of someone who is so mis-informed about gaming. Most of those who complain and whinge about gaming did not come to that position through information. They formulated it out of fear or a knee-jerk antipathy. And you cannot reason someone out of a position they did not arrive at by reason. Especially not if they get something out of holding that position. Not necessarily money, position or power- although all of that certainly counts. More like a stroke to their ego or emotional satisfaction of "holding back the hordes".

The worst Fanboys have to be the Apple iBots. I must have Steve Jobs' lies and catch phrases parroted back to me 8 times a day.

Great article, couldn't agree more.

Proper debates actually consist of each side calmly backing up their points thoroughly and showing that their point of view is correct, rather than insulting the opposition.

The aforementioned 'debates' are more akin to flame wars than anything else.

However that said, usually it proves to be somewhat pointless effort to post a well researched argument on the internet, so in some sense it's understandable that they usually degrade into fanboy rage threads.

A great read, but there is an issue with acting assertively - you say that gaming is already an integral part of our cultural landscape - but then again, so are other media forms, like television and cinema. People do speak out about how these are bad for our children, and how do we react?

By ignoring them. Like Holkins does when talking about Ebert. The only difference is that people take Ebert and Thompson more seriously.

So yes, we need to act assertively, as these people are affecting gaming's image. But there will come a point when we should all take Holkins' stance, and ignore.

I love that you linked to that Cracked article. The section of gimmicks and frame rates was my major defense on the side of Ebert.

Only problem is the general fandom of gaming. Everyone on this site slammed Ebert for his comments yet most of the things he said were true (except the absolutes) without ever considering his opinion as valid. This mood is sensed even in the article, you dismiss any criticism to gaming, thusly slamming Ebert in a fanboy stance.

tehroc:
Only problem is the general fandom of gaming. Everyone on this site slammed Ebert for his comments yet most of the things he said were true (except the absolutes) without ever considering his opinion as valid. This mood is sensed even in the article, you dismiss any criticism to gaming, thusly slamming Ebert in a fanboy stance.

Exactly this. This whole article was a fanboy rant expounded to two pages.

Excellent read,

although it did come off as a tad optimistic for my tastes, I can still see the message that the author is trying to pass off to us. It's a laudable goal, and one well worth working for.

That being said I tend to follow the school of thought brought up by Loonerinoes and LadyRhian, in that it's unlikely that we'll be able to actually change other peoples' minds about gaming, especially if they do draw comfort / security in their beliefs.

That however doesn't negate the importance of trying.

Personally I'm tired of arguing and debating. People like Jack and Ebert don't get videogames and likely never will. And no amount of discussion, facts, figures, etc. will change that. By no means am I saying that we should leave these critics unchallenged, but we can't expect them to be persuaded to our side. The ones most vocal against games (Jack, politicians, the news, etc.) aren't interested in an open discussion.

Getting people like Jack Thompson to play a few decent games and admit he's wrong about his anti-gaming views is like trying to subvert a devout Catholic nun to atheism: the tasks of both are wishful thinking at best, and both are so stuck in their ways that teaching them anything that doesn't revolve around their views borderlines on impossibility and possibly hostility. Oh, and arguing our points with people like him and Ebert is wasting both our time.

I'm thinking of Green Eggs and Ham, but without the happy ending with the other dude actually giving the food a try.

Loonerinoes:
You can NOT change people's minds over the internet in 90% of all cases. Full stop.

Zigactly. The amount of energy it takes far outweighs the benefit you could hope from any end result. We should spend that energy making gaming a more open and welcoming experience for those who are curious.

I don't think that the fanboy is a fallacy. It's a term usually used in a negative way to describe someone, normally a young adult male, who shows great passion and knowledge about something they grew obsessed with as a child like comic books, Star Wars or video games and most importantly doesn't show much emotional maturity or knowledge in other areas. Someone who is just a fan has the passion and knowledge but is also able to distance themselves from the subject thanks to having a little more wisdom and knowledge gained from other sources.

It's not a polite term and is rudely used in inappropriate ways. I don't think that having "fanboys" take hold of the debate and act in a way that influences the ways that games are heading is an especially healthy thing. They argue mostly for things that exclude new or younger fans and lock the developers into creating very conservative content. Things that satisfy their urge to see the same few favourite things over and over again but in ways that are less accessible to outsiders.

The thing about some defences of games is that they show both key characteristics of fanboyism. The unbridled passion is off the chart. Games have to be good for children because they defined my childhood. Games have to be art because I care about them so much and being art is a good thing, right? The defences lack the wisdom of knowing when to pick fights and respecting boundaries. They often lack real knowledge about, for example, what art means to different people and how little or how much being classed as art actually means.

Didn't read the full article but I just wanna mention that haters are fore worse.
I think some fanboys are in fact really fans of something because it IS good. That often results in a deeper view upon say their favorite game. They really often know a lot more about it than other people which is why they gotta defend it. (Though this depends of course how you define fanboys and fans.)

Haters on the other site do not have any clue of something. No sources, no facts just hate for some reason such as popularity. There's no point in arguing with such people.

I have 2 big problems with fanboys.

The first is that they are doing everything they can to get gaming accepted as an artform long before it should be. Not necessarily because there arn't any games that could be considered as art, but because of the speed the public concousness works. If you look at film, the 1st moving pictures were taken in the 1890s, but it wasn't really accepted generally for at least 40 years until the 30's and it took even longer for it to be accepted as an art. Even then, there were still people against certain areas (specifically the more graphic) right up until the 80s. Gaming started off in the late 70's with it really hitting the public conciousness in the 80's. If you complare it with film, games are still trying to get socially accepted (give it 10 years) while at the same time fighting the censorship and decency battles film didn't have to face until it was established.

My second problem is (and I'm gonna get so much crap for this) is that the people who argue on the side of games are adults arguing for the defence of a childhood hobby they don't want to give up. The best analogy I can come up with are adults who build things out of Lego. While I accept that the things some people make out of Lego are fantastic, it doesn't distract from the fact that they are still essentially playing with a childrens toy and if someone came up to you are agrgued that Lego isn't a toy but an art, the majority of gamers would probably think they're nuts. However, this is how the mainstream sees adult gamers. We picked up a hobby when were kids and now we're adults, we are demanding people take what we do seriously. Remember, the public don't see any diffeence between Mario, Civilisation and Modern Warfare 2. They are all seen as things played primarily by Children and Teenagers and any adult who also plays them is sad because they can't let go of their childhood.

What Fanboys and Gamers need is patience. Personally, I have no problem admitting I'm a gamer and that I have a damn sight more fun playing "Kids" games like Pokemon or Mario then I do playing the more "Adult" games like CoD. Eventually gaming will be accepted by public conciousness like film was and will almost certainly be seen as an artform in time, but it's not going to happen overnight.

This article was farily enlightening, actually. I will admit myself that I had some... harsh reactions to certain individuals. I really should have tried to be more intellectual about it.

That said, there are some fundamental problems. While some people's opinions can be changed, others sit in their little ego-bubble and shut out everything that doesn't agree with them.

gamegod25:
Personally I'm tired of arguing and debating. People like Jack and Ebert don't get videogames and likely never will. And no amount of discussion, facts, figures, etc. will change that. By no means am I saying that we should leave these critics unchallenged, but we can't expect them to be persuaded to our side. The ones most vocal against games (Jack, politicians, the news, etc.) aren't interested in an open discussion.

I remember reading, for example, that even mentioning that you were a Gamer to Jack in any attempt to debate what he was saying was all the ammo he needed to brand you a potential murderer and pay no attention to anything else you might have had to say. I may be taking that a little far, but that was pretty much it.

It might be easier to convince these people if there were more accessible games out there. I think this was outlined before, but pretty much every game around is much harder than we think it is. Even the newer Mario games; if you haven't played any games before, Super Mario Galaxy 2 could be an utterly punishing experience and turn you off the idea altogether. Yahtzee mentioned the only one around right now was really Little Big Planet. This really needs to change, honestly. Put a REAL 'easy' option in games; let the "hardcore" bitch and complain all they want (*cough* like what happened with Megaman 10 *cough*), at the end of the day they can still pick higher difficulties.

Anyway, steering it back on topic, I think everyone could benefit if intellectual discussions were held rather than the usual call-caps flame wars thinks have a habit of descending to on the Internet.

The small number of posts on this article is proof enough that Denial is not just a river in Egypt XD

Apt points, its really too bad that while there are more adults gaming than there are teens and preteens now, the most vocal population of gamers are still teenagers. Like i once was (and on occasion still am), fanboyism is quite the horse blind to look beyond.

Speaking out to them only works when those you speak to are willing to listen. Ebert and Thompson, i'm almost certain at this point (from the barrage of nerd rage and death threats) will no longer even entertain the notion of hearing what a gamer has to say. So it works both ways. We need to speak out more and not let the teenage fanboys voice be louder than the rest of us!

good analogy is trying to explain Darwinism to a religious zealot. you'll get no where fast. Then again the same is probably true vice versa (still pondering y Fundamentalist Christians have so much hate for ppl who don't believe in god or believe in their god. For a religion based on forgiveness, love and peace they sure are an angry lot)

I for one think fanboys really need to calm down when anything negative is said about what they love. If they love it so much they should defend it but the way it's being defended is wrong. For example I have here a video of my friend from Gemakei reviewing Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep at this years E3. I think Yahtzee would be proud of him but the focus is the comments he's getting from fanboys who defend the game when Gemakei shows in this review....well I should just let you watch it and of course watch it on Youtube to see the comments he received.

Plinglebob:
I have 2 big problems with fanboys.

The first is that they are doing everything they can to get gaming accepted as an artform long before it should be. Not necessarily because there arn't any games that could be considered as art, but because of the speed the public concousness works. If you look at film, the 1st moving pictures were taken in the 1890s, but it wasn't really accepted generally for at least 40 years until the 30's and it took even longer for it to be accepted as an art. Even then, there were still people against certain areas (specifically the more graphic) right up until the 80s. Gaming started off in the late 70's with it really hitting the public conciousness in the 80's. If you complare it with film, games are still trying to get socially accepted (give it 10 years) while at the same time fighting the censorship and decency battles film didn't have to face until it was established.

My second problem is (and I'm gonna get so much crap for this) is that the people who argue on the side of games are adults arguing for the defence of a childhood hobby they don't want to give up. The best analogy I can come up with are adults who build things out of Lego. While I accept that the things some people make out of Lego are fantastic, it doesn't distract from the fact that they are still essentially playing with a childrens toy and if someone came up to you are agrgued that Lego isn't a toy but an art, the majority of gamers would probably think they're nuts. However, this is how the mainstream sees adult gamers. We picked up a hobby when were kids and now we're adults, we are demanding people take what we do seriously. Remember, the public don't see any diffeence between Mario, Civilisation and Modern Warfare 2. They are all seen as things played primarily by Children and Teenagers and any adult who also plays them is sad because they can't let go of their childhood.

What Fanboys and Gamers need is patience. Personally, I have no problem admitting I'm a gamer and that I have a damn sight more fun playing "Kids" games like Pokemon or Mario then I do playing the more "Adult" games like CoD. Eventually gaming will be accepted by public conciousness like film was and will almost certainly be seen as an artform in time, but it's not going to happen overnight.

Good points but I still think there is a point to the main article here and that is we can and should constructively reach out to non-gamers. That is something we don't have to wait on.

A lot of the anti-gaming folk happen to be just that because of misinformation. As this article states, they don't "get" it because they haven't dealt with it. They're just going mostly based off of what they see and not what they've experienced. When we yell at them (because, yeah, in some cases they probably deserve it for their ignorant hate speech against gaming), it only gives them reason to wag their fingers back at us and say "look, see, you're like this because of gaming" or some other stupid conclusion drawn out of assumption.
While I agree that we should show them how it is good rather than striking them down all the time, I think to a certain degree, there's no changing people who are so set in their ways. It's sometimes like reasoning with someone who will always say you're wrong no matter how much proof you have that you're right. In that case, all you can do is push back, because no amount of game-playing will ever change their mind.

While I agree fanboys are an issue, they're not worse in video games than they are about movies, sports or any other medium that generates a lot of favor or disfavor. There is no arguing with someone like Thompson or even Ebert. You have one that is a fanatic, and it's pointless to try and chaneg the mind of someone who admits they formed their opinion without actually experiencing the medium they are talking about but who still thinks they should have an opnion about a medium they no nothing about.

Interesting article.

What we really need to do is to make gaming "mainstream". Let's have gaming competitions run on major networks, like they do in Korea. Let's have news stations cover gaming events in a tone that isn't that "Hurr look at this cosplayer Back to you, Mike!" one. Let's show the world that there's a system other than the Wii, and they have games other than ones that involve cow tipping or exercise.

Personally, I'm proud to be a gamer. But the media at large still hates us. Let's take the games off of G4 and on to Fox, maybe? Then we can let everyone watch them.

Well, except for the dirty Alliance. (Kidding... kinda)

Why does it matter so much if gaming is accepted to people? You like it, you enjoy it. Some people don't like it. Some people hate it. This is true of anything in life. I thing there's far more drama about this then is really warranted.

Caiti Voltaire:
Why does it matter so much if gaming is accepted to people? You like it, you enjoy it. Some people don't like it. Some people hate it. This is true of anything in life. I thing there's far more drama about this then is really warranted.

True, though there are many out there who believe that video games are ready to be (if not already) accepted as a valid artistic medium. It's not just about a "hobby", but about a future of expression and discourse through a new and engaging form. I for one think Interactive Media has a bright future, just as much as film has had.

Video games are just as capable of telling stories and making us think as films, and even their creation is very similar. For example:

-Both Video games and films are (usually) a large collaborative process that start usually with a written and proposed idea, and produced by a team of craftsmen.

-Both Video games and films have both their large big-budget projects, and smaller independant works.

-Both mediums are open to anyone who is capable of the techniques involved in their production.

-Both mediums use classical storytelling techniques and can engage the player/audience on an intellectual level.

-Both mediums, most importantly, involve some kind of vision that is expressed in the final product.

I feel I've made my point clear, Mr. Ebert.

Matt Meyers:
...there must be a mass movement to affect change.

Read Full Article

I think you mean effect change; to affect is to modify, and to effect is to bring into being. If you affect change, change is already going on and you're simply altering its direction - which is arguably correct but nonetheless "effect" is more apt.

But I digress - good article, and the point is still important: one needs to be proactive in order to see positive change. Still, the problem remains that a vast many people are still incredibly stubborn on all fronts, as is pointed out by others. Some will simply not bend in any event, and in such a situation it is difficult to see the point of argument. I think what needs to be understood in this case is that it isn't the "other side" that will be affected most by an argument, but rather neutral onlookers, and in that sense being respectful and having properly conceived and supported arguments is quite important indeed.

Also, arguments do not change people. They may help to effect a change, but in the end a person will only change if they want to change.

Most would rather rag on such kinds of

Damn, first time I've seen a typo in an article, and the above post also notes one.

OT: It is very difficult to change what people believe, if they have spent enough time and effort into that belief, on the other hand, it's also difficult to get people to care, if they haven't spent any time or effort into it. You also assume that gamers want to be accepted, which I wouldn't say is true at all, I couldn't care less what the outside worlds thinks of me playing video games. I do believe a lot of people like the apparent "fringe" status of gaming, as people like not as accepted or well known bands.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but it matters not, gaming will be, is being accepted, and isn't going to go away.

Matt Meyers:
The Fallacy of the Fanboy

When a fanboy enters any conversation about videogames, all relevance and meaningful discourse stops. Matt Meyers posits that we should all stop acting like fanboys when we are trolled by Jack Thompson or Roger Ebert.

Read Full Article

Everything you said is right. But even so, I have a bit of a bone to pick with you.

And it is this: why the hell do I have to defend my hobby to obnoxious busy-bodies who have nothing better to do than declare it evil? Sure, that's the reality we live in, and sure, we have to do something to keep state governments from ordering all copies of GTA burned. But intellectually speaking, I do not feel like it is suddenly my responsibility to become a well-spoken pro-gaming crusader who has to fly around the Internet proving how adorable and snuggly I really am.

We have a long-standing social problem here, which is that people in a free society should not be flying off the handle and trying to ban everything they don't appreciate because it offends their God or personal sense of moral or social righteousness. America has been a country with (more or less) unlimited free speech for 250 years now, and yet for some reason we still have great gobs of people who think their mission is to force us all to conform to their privately held vision of utopia.

THEY ARE THE ONES WITH THE PROBLEM, AND THE LAW HAS REPEATEDLY UPHELD THIS. The only way gamers can adequately defend themselves from anti-game laws is with pro-gamer and simply anti-anti-media lawyers who are trained to do so. The idea that gamers being less fanboyish will somehow stop the anti-game crusaders is probably true over a very long span of time, but here and now, being nicer isn't going to fix anything. That's because people who hate games don't hate the games because of the gamers or even the games themselves - they hate EVERYTHING that detracts from what they've decided people or society "must needs" be doing.

Now of course, everyone being nicer to and more understanding of everyone can only make social interactions a bit nicer. And it's not like you were suggesting we go out of our way to be extra-super-nice or something. But I still feel like you're obligating us to go on an offensive we should not have to go on.

Like you say in the article, gamers are everywhere, yet we're still being thought of by some people as a lunatic minority. Like you also say, the people who think this are on the wrong side of history. I say, let's defend ourselves legally as long as we have to until the Anti-stuff people move on, and otherwise, go about our daily business.

Fanboys will never go away, and the people with an anti-game axe to grind will never stop citing fanboy behavior as the reason games are evil. I'm not going to make an extra effort to be nice to people who despise me for doing something that jerks they've heard of also happen to do. Nobody owes anybody that.

Of course, I'm more or less a nice guy anyway, so...

Great stuff man! Truly well thought out and well presented. I've had these discussions with some buddies over many various issues where one side, or both simply reacts rather than acts. Thinking is the thing that separates us from beasts, let's do more of that shall we?

I think you took Jerry Holkins in the wrong vein. I don't believe he was just dismissing him just the idea of what was going on. He painted him as the "Hey kids, get off my lawn!" old man that those kids say they'll never be. There was a time that Ebert undoubtedly heard the exact same things about movies and scoffed at the old man and his ignorance of the how things really are.

Yet, all this damned negativity is, at its core, optimistic. We want the community to support the right kinds of games, genres, and studios, and we want studios to create the right kinds of products. We shout, petition, and boycott because we want to send a message about how a game ought to be created. We are argumentative because we are acutely aware, perhaps more than other sub-cultures, that being right is not enough; there must be a mass movement to affect change.

Careful with this kind of statement. This is the same kind of thinking that leads to fascism, tyranny, and religious fanaticism. Once you have a singular group that thinks it's particular view is the "right" way for things to be, it is only a small step before that group seeks to dictate to the entirety of humanity this same "right" way of things. It is this same thinking that also lies at the heart of fanboism.

The article, in my opinion, basically summarizes gamers, taken as a whole, to be an insular, self-centered, self-righteous lot with the mentality of a 5-year old. They want everything to be their way and are not willing to give any validity or respect to the opinions and views of others. Yet, gamers constantly demand that their views and opinions be respected and validated by others. Because of mass insecurity that comes from attaching too much of one's identity into the hobby, any insinuation that the games they love may be less than perfect will cause gamers to react with rabid defensive rage. Rather than react in a manner that is productive, proactive, or provides positive reinforcement, they resort to childish insults, taunts, and mocking of the object of their indignation. Rather than consider the possibility that other may have a valid point, they simply dismiss any viewpoint that does not mirror their own as idiotic and just wrong.

At the end of the day, gamers just to grow-up and get over themselves. Of course, not all gamers are this way, but there is too largely a significant number that are.

Great article, but

Our arguments only need to change from defensive to assertive, and we from kneejerk protectors to diplomats.

Yeah, and to end all wars world leaders just need to stop opposing other governments and starting supporting them. And to end hunger we just need to stop selling food for money and start giving it up for free. And to end crime we just need to stop being violent with each other. Wow, it's simple!

The kneejerk nature of gaming has already been the subject of more than one article, but it's a subculture composed mostly of young men. Of course they are going to act like complete idiots who shout at anyone slightly different. This is also the segment of the population I believe uses the most the word 'gay' as an insult. No number of nicely written articles is going to change their mind. Rather, those of us who are level-headed and diplomatic need to take up the slack and make up for the loud masses of jerks.

The problem is that not only are gamers loud about it, they love being loud about it. Ebert's case is a clear one. Why should we care that some guy doesn't think games are art? I'm not saying he's an old curmudgeon or whatever - he could be the President of Western Awesome, but if he admits he doesn't play games we shouldn't pay any attention to him. And yet, articles refuting his view poured out of every pore of the internet. Why do this? Are games so insecure about their hobby of choice that they feel the need to assure themselves games are okay? I don't see thousands of heavy metal fans writing passionate essays every time some nobody says heavy metal isn't real music. Why do we do it?

Just the other day a friend IM'd me saying how ridiculous it was that some rapper had said something about the beta of some shooting game (Medal of Honor? Can't remember) and it made Gamespy front page news. I realized that for all this talk of gamings becoming mainstream gamers are still under this weird illusion that they aren't, and that the fact that a rapper plays games is not just some random useless fact but is a fact of major importance to our entire subculture. It's a pretty pitiful worldview.

Caiti Voltaire:
Why does it matter so much if gaming is accepted to people? You like it, you enjoy it. Some people don't like it. Some people hate it. This is true of anything in life. I thing there's far more drama about this then is really warranted.

I agree with this post. It's not acting elitist, it's more not trying to waste energy on converting blind faith to see reason. Apathy, perhaps?

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