Dissecting the "Fanboy" Mindset.

Friday, January 30, 2015

 

The above video is meant to sum-up and entertain, not serve as a complete portrayal of the response. I mean to deceive no one; The complete response video can be found below.

 

Another disclaimer before we begin: The YouTuber in question made a harsh, arguably unfair response video, but seems like a nice enough guy and my intent is not to attack or harass him, only to delve into why some react so strongly, non-logically and non-sensically when they feel their favorite Ninja Turtle has been insulted.

 

A few weeks ago my show Entertainment Hero received its first video response! This was very exciting to me, and even though it was a negative response it still excites me knowing that it happened. I have six subscribers and the video has barely over one-hundred views. I wasn’t expecting this to happen for quite some time. Unfortunately YouTube decided not to let me know, so it went unappreciated and unaddressed for three weeks.

 

The speaker incorrectly assumes that “Entertainment Hero” is my entire online identity, when in truth it’s a show that I put together, and a character is being played. “Entertainment Hero” isn’t even the name of the YouTube channel that hosts the video. While Hero does share my opinions and was largely made as a fun means of expressing them, they are portrayed in an exaggerated, over-dramatic fashion rarely accurate to the strength of my own feelings on a matter.

 

His critique made some quite unfair assumptions regarding whether I had actually played the games that my video criticized (I have) and he insulted my reading comprehension when I used the term “soul” where the game used the term “DNA”, and, on another occasion, spun an entire paragraph on its head, using mental gymnastics to get the words to mean what he wanted them to mean. Give me a break, fellow. This type of petty “issue" serves only as a cheap shot, yet is so easily deflected that they turn right around and hurt the one who spoke them.

 

His biggest problem with the video and, I assume, the element that drove him to reply via strongly worded video is the implication that the current state of the Mega Man franchise can be blamed squarely on the Battle Network branch of the once mighty franchise. If you’d like to hear my reasoning behind this conclusion, please watch ‘The Mega Man Dilemma’, the first episode of Entertainment Hero. It’s rough around the edges but I believe it makes its points well.

 

To sum-up why I created the ‘The Mega Man Dilemma’, it was meant only to describe Mega Man’s current condition and then describe what lead to this current condition. A downward spiral of lazy game development practices killed the series and it started with Mega Man Battle Network. Cutscenes, voice acting, extra playable characters, music recorded with live instruments, polygonal graphics, and presentation are all elements that entered the Battle Network era and had disappeared by the time we had cleared it.

 

He reacted very negatively to the facts that were put on the table, yet never refutes a single one of them. His responses tend to boil down to “well people liked them”, “the series was successful” or, the one I like best, “it’s my favorite series in the world so don’t criticize it”. These don’t fly very far at all, do they? No, they don’t. We can’t back down from criticizing something just because it has fans whose feelings might be hurt, and fans need to realize that nobody can make them feel bad for liking something except themselves.

 

It occurred to me quite quickly that the type of person I was dealing with is what is often labeled a “Fanboy”, meaning an individual whose love for a particular brand causes him or her to reject any type of criticism thrown at it and insist that their favorite is perfect no matter how childish such statements make him look. I’ve seen this behavior from fans of just about everything and I’m sure you have too. Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Halo, Blizzard, you name it. Whether it’s a platform, a series, a game, or even a single character, this attitude is rampant on the internet.

 

First and foremost, the fanboy enters all discussions under the assumption that any and all criticism of the thing that he loves comes straight from unbridled, pure hatred and nothing else. In his response he assumes, and even states, that I did no research in putting together a half hour video, and only produced the thing because I had a "vendetta against Battle Network for no reason". He does not know me personally. If this was true, it isn't, there's no way he could know. You'll encounter this often. It happens because the hyper-fan cannot allow any reasoning, evidence, or logic into his argument. It's a weak link in the armor that leads only to understanding, rational thinking, and everything that stands against being right at all costs.

 

The fanboy mindset tends to cause one to make rash statements to brush off a particular criticism, but in doing so the door is opened for many more criticisms that often make the subject being discussed look even worse. An example of this is when, in response to my critique of the Battle Network stories and characters, he tells me that Battle Network fans didn’t play the series for the plot and characters but for the combat. I image the decision to go this route was made because he didn’t want to sit there and actually defend these ridiculous characters and the scenarios they’re put through, so he settles on making these elements a non-consideration in even a fan's judgement of the series. If these things aren’t cared for by the people who enjoy the series it loses it’s edge as a weapon to use against the series.

 

What he must not have considered is that all this means, if this is true, is that Mega Man Battle Network has failed in it’s principle goal. A Role Playing Game, or RPG, is driven by the story and characters. This is the cornerstone of the entire genre. As I said in ‘The Mega Man Dilemma’, if you create a Role Playing Game that lacks likable characters and scenarios that interest the player they aren’t going to finish your game or come back for more in the future. This isn’t just true for video games, it’s true for novels, movies, television and literally any other form of storytelling.

 

The classic Mega Man series wasn’t heavy on story. Usually there was about a paragraph of written exposition to set up the plot of each game and this happened before the title screen. More story elements were introduced the further the technology climbed, but Mega Man was never a story heavy series until Mega Man Legends, which is arguably another casualty of the Battle Network era, ironic, considering how heavily Mega Man Battle Network’s human half “borrowed” from Mega Man Legends. Outside of Mega Man Legends, it didn’t matter how much dialogue was brought in, the games never became story or character driven. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mega Man plots lasted just long enough to let you say "Mr. X" was Dr. Wily the whole time. I wondered why his name sounded like “misdirects”! Nifty.” It wasn’t a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but that’s okay; Gaming offered few strong narratives at the time, the fun is playing the game.

 

People didn’t dislike the plot, poor writing, and english voice work of X6 and 7 because they were poor. The Mega Man X series never had strong plots, so these weak elements weren’t exactly disappointments. People disliked these elements because, for the first time, the story of a Mega Man X title was insulting to the characters and the world that players had grown to love. The reputation that these games garnered came from their recycled gameplay, poor level designs, unimaginative boss fights, and other unfortunate design decisions. The poor plot and character dialogue were only a bonus that further pushed the aforementioned issues into their now infamous statuses.

 

To bring this point full circle, Mega Man Battle Network is no longer an Action Platformer, it’s a Role Playing Game, and this brings with it a very different set of connotations and criteria to fill that if people aren’t expected to play it for, it has failed. If you buy a racing game that says “you lose” when you finish in first but you play it for the pretty graphics, it’s still a bad game. If you buy a First Person Shooter where the bullets don’t fly where the crosshair is pointed but you play it anyway because the music is good, it’s failing to be what it set out to be and is thus a poor game that few people will choose to play over a game that functions properly.

 

 

 

 

 

Oops. "What happened, Lan?"

I don’t think any of this was considered when the story and characters were tossed aside to dodge criticism.

 

Another symptom of the fanboy mindset is the tendency to contradict one’s own words, often quite quickly, such as when my responder claims, with a straight face, that had Capcom not made so many Mega Man titles for the NES, and so quickly, each game may have turned out better and the franchise would come out stronger, precisely the idea that his video exists to berate me for trying to say, only my video said it about the branch of the franchise that he prefers.

 

In truth, he is correct about the classic Mega Man titles on NES. In a mistake that the Battle Network series would later repeat, the NES Mega Man titles became formulaic and stale, rarely changing in any meaningful way and releasing on an almost annual basis. This, again, exactly as would happen with the Network Timeline, led to loss of sales as interest in the series waned. The difference between these two events is that when interest waned the first time, Capcom went above and beyond the call and blew everyone away with Mega Man X, a brilliant reinvention of what ‘Mega Man’ could be. In addition to that, the company wasn't fighting financial struggles the first time around as they were the second time and still are to this day.

 

He’s right in what he says about classic Mega Man, the problem here is that the speaker says this so clearly and confidently concerning the series he cares less about, but is unable to recognize this identical situation as soon as it reflects poorly on the side that he feels nostalgic for. He must reject the notion that it’s applicable to his side. If he accepts it as factual then he admits that the blame for the series going under lies with the side he prefers and he’d have to ask what he’s fighting for.

 

Another repeated element in his response is hatred for a particular Battle Network title, this being the fourth of the six. Mega Man Battle Network 4 is a game loathed by the entire Battle Network fan-base, and it brings me to another interesting facet of being a blindly extreme fan. If the fan-base decides something is bad, the entire thing is bad with no hope of redemption. Mega Man Battle Network 4 is a game that, even after everything we’ve described above, he will “never defend”. The hatred for the game is almost palpable, and he is far from the first fan that I've heard mention the fourth installments dubious quality.

 

Mega Man Battle Network 4 introduced many new things to the combat engine, such as an “emotion” system, where Mega Man will get confident if you’re playing well or anxious if you’re playing poorly. Another new addition is a visible prize box on the battlefield that contains an item you can earn by keeping the prize box safe from enemy attacks or your own. Refinements were made to the previous “full synchro” system that now allow the status to be entered by countering with a charged buster shot rather than only through battle chips. In short, I remember many additions, few subtractions, and certainly nothing deserving of the outright contempt that the game has earned amongst series fans.

 

The plots have always been awful, characters have never changed, matured or grown with experience, the maps are always labyrinthine hallways and corn-mazes and general game design decision making has always been dirt poor, so the series signature elements are doubtfully the culprit. If these elements are involved in earning this horrific reputation it’ll be in stark contrast with what I was recently told concerning how the fans see the stories and characters. I’ve reached out for comment because I’m genuinely curious, but I doubt it will be anything substantial. 

 

Anyhow, I mean this fellow no offense, I just wanted to take the opportunity to explore this intreguing concept that I would go so far as declare gaming's first unique mental state. I was once a fanboy myself, only our positions were switched in regards to Mega Man. I learned my lesson and I still feel the effects of my past actions to this day. Few people who know me want to hear me talk about Final Fantasy VII or Blizzard Entertainment because they don’t believe I give these topics a fair shake. Oh well. Sooner or later I’ll make a half-hour long Entertainment Hero about those as well, and I promise, those episodes will receive many heated responses.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

If you'd like to see the entire response video, you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJucfogHr20

 

If you'd like to see my response to his response you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMlIwZxhxPU&spfreload=10

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Entertainment Hero

Jeremy Hathcock