PS2 OWNZ XBOX. GC RULZ 4EVR!!!
There's a persistent evil that looms over the games industry like a big, shadowy evil thing. No, I'm talking about Sony, or Microsoft for that matter. This evil was around way before either of these corporate behemoths had even heard of computer games. It's not piracy, it's not licensed games (though more often than not they can be very evil indeed), it's not sequels and it's not Electronic Arts. As much as many of these things might annoy me, none of them compare to the near daily aggravation incurred thanks to this unnamed horror. What I'm speaking of, of course, is the fanboy.
"Arghhh!" I hear you cry (or is that just me?). I'm sure that many of you have encountered this evil breed in your time as a gamer, but for any of you that have been fortunate enough not to, let me explain what I mean by this term. A fanboy is an individual that never ceases to sing the virtues of the console or brand to which they have bought into, whilst at the same time shooting down everything else. The best way to think it is to cast your mind back to your school days. I remember my mates and I would argue about such mundane trivialities as whether Reebok or Nike was better, whether He Man or Thundercats was the best. I should imagine in todays playgrounds kids have similar debates about Nokia and Sony Eriksson, or maybe Girls Aloud and... sorry, my modern pop knowledge ends there.
Anyhow, apply this mentality to the games industry and a whole new world of pain awaits. "Project Gotham 2 is sooooo much better that Gran Turismo" or "The Xbox ?#@&'s all over the PS2". Yes, I acknowledge that in my youth I was probably as guilty as any other for indulging in such banter. And yes, I realise that basically it's harmless playground tomfoolery. I shan't deny that, and long may it thrive in playgrounds across Britain and the world. However, the moment it spreads outside the playground and into my sphere of experience is the moment I become far less tolerant.
Saying that, it's not just kids that are to blame. I remember getting in early on day three of Gamestars Live and heading straight to the front of the queue for Halo 2. I shared my 40 minute wait with two gentleman from an unnamed Xbox fansite. Bare in mind that these guys were easily in their 30's from what I could tell. Perhaps it was foolish of me to expect some balance and integrity from these people. In any case, that 40 minutes was possibly the most depressing of the show as I was forced to listen to their inane juvenile fanboy drivel. "The PS2 is such an old console... it's Christmas line up is rubbish... the Xbox is so powerful... Halo 2 is going to be the best game ever made...." At one point I grew so tired of this mindless vocal sewage leak that I stated, just to antagonise, that I play my PS2 more than any other console and that I thought the Xbox lacked quirky, original titles. I expected a vocal battering but instead I was greeted with simply puzzled looks that betrayed the empty hollows hidden behind their eyes. Well, at least I got to see the tall one in the sharp suit fall over in the gravel as he attempted to run to the front of the queue.
The environment where this vile pursuit is most prolific is undoubtedly that troubled realm known as the internet forum. For every "Fable represents the next stage of RPG evolution - discuss" thread you'll find a hundred "The PSP will own the DS" or "Forza is gonna rule" style efforts that aren't worthy of the either the pixels or the server bandwidth that they occupy. What's worse is that such stupidity is so prevalent that it becomes nearly impossible to make any kind of comment in favour of one title or another without being accused of being a fanboy yourself. Are you brave enough to say that you're looking forward to Killzone? You PS2 lover! Think the original Xbox pad is difficult to use? You're nothing but a stinking Sony fanboy! Only last week I lost my nerve with some worthless pubescent that infiltrated a thread I'd started regarding Sony's decision to drop online play from GT4. Up to this point I'd been sharing some learned discourse about the pro's and con's of the move, only for this ignorant moron to post a reply that went along the lines of this: "its pointless anyway cos gran turismo sux and forza is gonna own it anyway lol". Unfortunately I lost my rag somewhat and am not proud to say that I explored the possibilities of verbal assault through to their most fierce conclusions.
Aside from the fact that this fellow had played neither Forza Motorsport nor Gran Turismo 4, these people represent the most puerile and infantile sections of the gaming community. Here's a stark truth for you - every console is great. Yep, that's right. I own over a dozen consoles, including all of the current generation machines, and each and every one of them has a good selection of exclusive titles that justify the purchase of the machine. Slag off the GameCube if you like, but no other machine offers the likes of Mario Sunshine, The Wind Waker, Animal Crossing and Metroid Prime. The PS2 is underpowered eh? Maybe, but show me another machine that offers Gran Turismo, Katamari Damashii, Gradius V and Devil May Cry. The Xbox is big and ugly right? Well, yeah, I'll give you that, but what other machine packs Outrun 2, Halo, Fable and Links 2004? The point is that every console has its own strengths and weaknesses and each deserves it's place in the larger gaming world. Hey, even the Atari Jaguar had Tempest 2000 and Alien vs Predator.
Fanboyism is symptomatic of nothing more than immaturity and insecurity. You forked out £100 on an Xbox whilst some other kids you know opted for a PS2. As a result, you're desperate to both justify your purchase and prove at the same time that you know better than them. Such behaviour serves no one other than yourself. It might make you feel better about the machine sitting under your TV, but the reality is that to all of the non-fanboys out there it makes you look like an utter tool. So the next time you leap to the defence of your console, or choose to slate an upcoming release on a rival format that you haven't even played, just remember that the console you own has some great games that can't be played on any other machine. At the same time though, you have to accept that the same is true of all the other consoles that you chose not to buy. Deal with it, because there's nothing you can do about it, other than to grow up and accept it. After all, that's what being a real gamer is at least partly about.