The console war has never been this nasty before. A generation of insults, personal attacks and childish remarks have finally culminated in the next-gen of pettiness and antagonism in shiny 1080p and butter-smooth 60 frames per second that at times almost manages to make me feel ashamed to be a gamer.
In comparison, the past years in which Sega and Nintendo fanboys kicked each other in the shins seem like a pacifist rally. The competition between fans of various camps has become so aggressive that, at least on the Internet, seeing some respect is far rarer than spotting flying insults and mockery.
Of course the problem gets amplified by the fact that the press encourages the antagonism. There isn’t a day in which you don’t see opinion pieces with headlines like “Ten Reasons Why X is better than Y” or “My PS4 is a Paperweight Since Launch” or “The Xbox One is a Lying Failure,” and similar flamebait often including hyperbolic verbs like “destroys,” “obliterates,” or “crushes.”
Those often spring up on Saturday or Sunday, as those are relatively slow news days and writers scramble to find shock-effect headlines to keep their traffic up by poking your sensibilities. You’ll probably glance at quite a few of them today, and it’s quite likely that many of you will begrudgingly chew on them for the rest of the day like stale vomit.
The funny part of this all is that this kind of rabid loathing for the opposite camp normally doesn’t apply to those that actually work on the platforms. Of course in a period of heated competition a few mild jabs coming from the marketing department of this or that manufacturer do appear, but normally the people that hustle every day to get new games on our consoles respect each other, and are quite often even friends.
Just to bring up the latest example, here’s an exchange between Microsoft Studios Aaron Greenberg and Sony Computer Entertainment VP of Publisher and Developer Relations at PlayStation Adam Boyes that occurred yesterday night on Twitter.
File this under #smallworld just ran into @amboyes in same London Hotel as we both have pre-Gamescom meetings here. Drinks planned later!
let’s do this! We are on Carnaby Street – swing through!
Greenberg also had words of praise about Boyes in response to fans that (some with irony and some a bit less) expected a fight.
Nah, he is good guy, even gave me a ride at E3 last year when I missed my ride.
Tons of respect for him. We are all in this together, trying to grow market for everyone.
This is just the latest example of many. Console executives like Phil Spencer, Shuhei Yoshida and many others expressed mutual respect in quite a few occasions. In treading industry events and parties I can say I saw many relevant developers and professionals, who would normally stand on opposite sides of the field, chat amiably about games and the market in front of a couple of beers and appetizers.
What Greenberg said about growing the market for everyone is quite true: while corporations don’t specifically aim to benefit their competitors, the more a platforms gets popular, the more new gamers are attracted to the hobby. From there to buying another platform, the jump is fairly short.
It’s undeniable that success for all platforms leads to a healthy market, and a healthy market is beneficial to everyone. On top of that, pitched competition is definitely beneficial to consumers, as companies scramble to overtake each other with the services they offer and to reduce prices and remove barriers.
On the other hand, fanboys from all camps seem to be more focused on expressing anger whenever gamers that happened to choose a different platform are given a chance to enjoy a game they consider their exclusive right. The shameless reactions to the recent announcement of Ryse: Son of Rome‘s port to PC are an easy indicator of that.
On Tuesday Sony and Microsoft will hold their big Gamescom conferences, and it’s very likely that many will be too busy hoping that the competition won’t get many good games to enjoy those that will actually be announced for their favorite platform.
It’s refreshing to see that industry leaders have absolutely no problem in greeting each other with a warm handclasp and drinks, and at the same time it’s sad to see that so many gamers are unable to do the same. Maybe Boyes, Greenberg and many others simply are better gamers and ambassadors of our hobby than many of us are.
That’s another element many don’t realize. While internet anonymity acts as a partial shield for the worst offenders, and they can go to work or to school every day without friends and colleagues being the wiser about the fact that they behave like asses (yeah, I just used the “A word”, and I’m not very sorry about that) on the net, anyone reading their posts, comments and tweets definitely won’t have a good impression of our hobby.
It’s almost a relief that the sensationalist media interested in furthering its crusade against games (in its enormous ignorance) didn’t yet catch wind of how violent the console war has become, because if they did they’d have a perfect argument to support their laughable theories.
But maybe we’d deserve it. Seeing some of the most cringe-worthy comments broadcasted and mocked nationwide by FOX News could work as a harsh and much needed wake-up call for some.
Ultimately, it’s time to realize that we’re all gamers. Whether we play on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, PC, or any other platform, we share the same hobby. Normally people that share the same passion support each other, but in gaming that doesn’t happen nearly enough unless a common enemy appears, and even in that case it’s normally little more than a temporary truce.
Unfortunately I have little hope that this article of mine will convince many, but remember: every time you call someone a “pony,” a “xbot,” a “peasant” or similar unflattering epithets, every time you throw unsightly slur at someone because he happens to like green more than blue (or vice-versa), there’s a a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.