My love for video games stems from their unique ability to provide distinctive, anomalous adventures. Their ability to captivate the imagination on both an artistic and inspiring way and breed emotional attachments makes it one of the most lucid forms of entertainment. Ever since I first held an NES controller almost three decades ago, I have found myself admiring video games for the experience they cemented in my mind. And because I found myself avidly enjoying video games as a collective, I never had the mentality of aligning myself with a definitive console. I never felt the need to bind allegiance to a brand, respectively.
As gamers, our instinct should not be to deprive ourselves of potentially gratifying experiences because of hardware preference or brand revulsions. But, instead, adopting gaming experiences based off of genuine interest and admiration for the games themselves. Does this mean that there aren’t consoles that are superior to others? How do we define superiority? Does dominance rely on the perfection of technological achievements? Or is prestige merited by the experience a game imprints into the player’s subconscious and its ability to preserve nostalgia?
When we dissect the reasoning behind brand “loyalty,” it starts to become apparent that the very thing that makes us human is the very reason why we argue about PlayStation versus Xbox, or Pepsi versus Coca Cola: It is used as a means to identify with a brand we think is somewhat aligned with our very own values. Ergo, in defending the brand itself, we are also defending the choices we have made — a means of justifying those decisions to ourselves. What we don’t see, however, is that on a more fundamental level, this blind devotion hinders our ability to truly enjoy all of the facets of this medium.
Rather than there being admiration to video games symbiotically, consoles have become the forefront of what gaming is defined as. We look at the arguments, the “testimonials,” the flaming, the trolling, the fabrication of rumors and it comes back to the need to want to measure and validate the feeling of superiority over “insert-console-name-here.” In this strife, we find ourselves forgetting the one essential element — the commonality — that we mutually share, regardless of hardware loyalty, as gamers: we game to have fun.
Instead, we find ourselves engaging and feeding into grievous discussions of why Microsoft is evil, why Sony is horrible, why Nintendo sucks and why PC gaming owns them all. Why does any of this matter when each and every single one of the aforementioned produce platforms that we share this fondness of video games on? It naturally comes down to one thing: The want to substantiate our purchasing choice(s) — a need to ascertain a truth to the authenticity of our decision. And in this, we devalue anything and everything that challenges these choices to reaffirm the value of our resolution.
Understandably, not everyone is able to afford every console and a beefy PC to play every game in the world. There may even be a logical reason as to why we maintain a semblance of minimalism. But, at the end of the day, there should not be a reason to genuinely compare consoles to one another. Each product, each console, each game, should be judged on its own merits — on the qualities that you seek as a gamer. What you define as your criteria should not be determined by its competitors. A console is there to serve the purpose of playing a game. The game itself is what we should be, en masse, evaluating because it is what we are enduringly engaged with.
The trend that we are setting, or one that has already been set, is disliking games on consoles that we are not supportive of. We are detesting games, the main ingredient that lures us into this form of entertainment, because we are infatuated with a console — a brand — whose main purpose is to play said games. Yet, the bias that we impose negates our ability to appreciate that games, conjointly, are made to be enjoyable and should be strengthening, or creating, a bond between gamers, not to creating a disconnect among us.
Gamers have latched on the visual fidelity a console perspires to conclude supremacy. High-resolution textures and 60 frames per second have become the standard in determining a game’s validity rather than discerning a one-of-a-kind, potentially innovative experience based on the quality of gameplay, story, and individuality . We stay true to what we find comfort in and forsake taking the bold leap into unfamiliar territory because we choose to aimlessly pursue a hallmark.
Games are what make the experience valid and extraordinary. In indiscriminately following a brand, the only one being truly affected is you, the gamer. You starve yourself from being able to truly experience the sophistication of gaming and how and why diversification is incredible. It widens the arsenal of games that you have access to, which, for any avid gamer, is a godsend.
As gamers — as a community — we share a common interest. We share an adoration for video games, regardless of genre, regardless of budget sizes, and regardless of platform. Nevertheless, we find that our respect and our love of games becomes blanketed by this obsession to affiliate ourselves with a brand. Where, instead of holding optimistic and constructive criticisms about the games themselves, we are bombarded with vitriol and entitled proselytizing.
Video games are what we use as a means to escape the real world that embodies us. It is a hobby that we look to when we want to enter an unfamiliar world with unfamiliar characters to momentarily withdraw ourselves from real life. It is a medium that artistically grasps you, whilst giving you a sense of importance upon achieving your goals. It is something that we share as a group, and it is the one thing that we should genuinely be faithful to collectively. Not brand devotion.