The first time I encountered the term “fanatic” was while watching an episode of The Facts of Life. Yes, that Facts of Life, the one with Mrs. Garrett and Tootie and Blair of the fabulous hair. Tootie was such a devoted fan of Jermaine Jackson (I think it was Jermaine – I get the lesser Jacksons confused) that she flew into hysterics at the thought the she wouldn’t be allowed to attend his concert. Cue Mrs. Garrett’s concerned murmurings that “fan” was short for “fanatic.”
I didn’t quite understand how someone could get so worked up over their fondness for something. It seemed utterly bizarre to be so wrapped up in a person that didn’t know you existed. Then I got into videogames and became even more baffled. I witnessed fanboy-fueled flamewars over the question of which game console was the best of all time. I read fanfic by authors whose grasp on reality was only slightly less tenuous than their grasp on proper grammar. At least pop stars are actual people, but here were folks that were fanatical about pieces of equipment or collections of pixels. Loons, I thought. Utter loons. Then I realized that I was one of them.
Not to the same degree, of course. I don’t have any videogame tattoos (yet), I’ve never put pen to paper to continue the story of a character after the end credits rolled and I honestly couldn’t care less what game platform you prefer. But I do have an affection for certain games and systems that defies reason or explanation, which by definition makes me a fangirl. I love the 3DO. I heart Sega. I have a P.N.03 poster next to my desk at work, and its main character, Vanessa Z. Schneider, as my avatar on The Escapist forums. Why do those things in particular speak to me? It’s not the kind of thing that’s easily explained. They just do.
I’m still none the wiser as to just what it is about a particular game, console or character that inspires such slavish devotion, but I do know that there are many ways to be a fanatic. Some are just a bit more obvious than others.
Oh, and the best game console of all time is the Super Nintendo. Duh.
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