Blinded By Faith

The views expressed below are not necessarily the views of N-Sider Media Inc. They represent the views of the original writer only.

I want to put this out there right in the beginning; this is not trying to make you think one way or another. This is merely a vocalization of an observation Ive made, and you can decide for yourself whether it has any validity.

The video game industry is like no other. This industrys consumers have an emotional attachment to individual distributors and manufacturers not found in other mediums. Do we get upset when Dell decides to use NVidia graphic chips instead of Ati? Do we get upset when Ford buys Volvo, or when BMW buys the exclusive rights to the Mini Cooper? Do we become ecstatic or depressed when movie studios sell their smaller subsidiaries to competitors? The simple answer is no, unless of course you have some sort of monetary investment in the respective companies.

Im sure there are exceptions to the rule (like how so many people hate Microsoft or the difference between PC and Mac), but it seems to me like the video game industry is one of the only industries that has developed a dogmatic pack of followers. It is also one of the few industries where loyalty to developers will sway based on who is producing the product.

Where is this heading? Perhaps not so surprisingly, it leads back to Rare. (I know we have all heard enough editorializing on the subject, but hear me out). When the first speculations about Rares departure surfaced, fans across forums were avidly supporting Rare. There were claims that Rare made the best games on the market. Others claimed that Rare would never leave Nintendo. They claimed Rare was too loyal to Nintendo, and too loyal to their fans who played on Nintendo systems, to cross over to Microsoft. No matter how long these rumors remained dormant, they eventually resurfaced. As the evidence mounted, Rare/Nintendo fans were so blinded by their faith that Rare would never go over to the enemy, they blindly shot down anyone who had a differing opinion (much like typical fan boys of any system).

Then, there was that fateful night when IGN announced (albeit unofficial) that Rare had been bought by Microsoft. Suddenly, Rare was no longer the almighty developer everyone had been avidly defending for months. The anticipation for Rares upcoming titles diminished, some were out-rightly bashed. Arguments that had hailed Rare as one of Nintendos strongest parties soon turned around and claimed that Rare could not possibly be as strong a force developing on the Xbox. There are plenty of arguments that can be made saying that Rare/Microsoft/Nintendo made a bad decision; we will have to wait until after Rares first titles are released on the Xbox to gauge the outcome. The important thing to gain from this is that many gamers felt like Rare was their best friend, and when they allied themselves with Microsoft it was as if this friend had personally gouged out their hearts with spoons. So many gamers felt betrayed, so many were angry, so many were hurt, and so many openly renounced Rare.

It just seems that we gamers dont realize that these companies are not our best friend. They do not necessarily consider our feelings when making corporate decisions. They want to make money. If they can make more money in exchange for angering a few diehard fans, they will do it.

I dont know that cutting ourselves off from caring about the developers who sell us their visions and provide us with hours of entertainment is the answer. This feeling of a close relationship with those who make our games is what makes this industry so unique, and what forms a bond between all gamers. We care about the quality of the games we play. As the industry expands, more alternatives become available, and competition becomes more cutthroat, the levels of fanboyism increase. But to be so devout in your fanboyism that you would badmouth what was once one of your favorite developers because they no longer develop for your console of choice is a sign that things are getting too personal. Nintendo fans deny that there are any good games on the Xbox, while Microsoft fans refuse to recognize good games on the GameCube, without any regard to the truthfulness of either statement.

Basically, I think that we as gamers need to open our cold hearts and accept the fact that every system has something to offer, and that developers are not there solely for our personal amusement. Everyone has to make business decisions. I know money doesnt grow on trees, but the logical solution would be for us all to go out and buy all the current consoles so that we will not be limited by developers alliances to certain consoles, and we will not be hurt when these alliances shift. But since this is ultimately not practical, we all need to wake up and realize that the gaming industry does not revolve around our own personal whims.

Mary Jane Irwin