John Green is quoted as saying, “Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.'” These very true words may be why there are console wars between video game systems. It’s why there are Apple fanboys and fangirls, anime conventions and comic cons. Nerds love their stuff and love to talk, debate and argue their love. I am no different, admittedly expressing my disdain for both Apple and Xbox while praising the PlayStation and literally anything else but Apple. As Christmas draws nearer, I’ve caught myself wondering about the point of these ‘wars.’ If the serve a purpose, is that purpose for the fans, or for the corporations that create these devices?
Working in marketing, I can imagine how the video game console wars thrill both Sony and Microsoft (and Nintendo, too, I guess. But who could hate Nintendo?). In reality, both are formidable systems with pros and cons. I know some people who prefer to own both systems and, with few exceptions, the same games come out on both. What Sony and Microsoft get out of this ‘war’ is free publicity and loyalty.
In 2000, my parents bought me the first PlayStation with a Crash Bandicoot and Mary Kate and Ashley game. Soon after, I bought Final Fantasy IX and the rest is history, I was hooked. In truth, I may have been hooked even early, through Pokemon games on my Gameboy color. To this day, I prefer the PlayStation and the Nintendo handheld. When Sony came out the with PlayStation Portable (PSP), did I abandon Nintendo handhelds? No way. I loved my Game Boy and I love my Nintendo DS. Since I’m not about to invest in two handheld systems, I’m going to stick with what I love. The same goes for the PlayStation. I’m not sure what would have to happen for me to abandon those loyalties.
Some battles may be aimed at ending loyalties. Look how Microsoft’s Surface and Google’s Android attack Apple. They are trying to characterize Apple as being ‘mainstream’ and Apple’s fans of being blind followers. I think HTC has a commercial literally promoting the idea that people who think for themselves buy their phone.
Is that all this is then, not nerd-filled passion, but marketing genius?
The nerd in me refuses to believe that. I love my video games, anime, books, comics and manga to a fault. I just can’t buy into the idea that I am the gullible victim to some business’s crazy scheme. While the banter between fandoms can sometimes get a little too personal, I think it’s all in good fun. Smack talk between the fandoms is like rival sports teams. You say you dislike the rival, but you get great enjoyment from rooting against them. The joy of victory when your team wins is heightened when the game is won against a rival. A loss only fires you up to cheer harder for the next win.
If you think about it, I bet most major fandoms out there have a rival to nemesis. Star Wars and Star Trek are often pitted against each other, so is Final Fantasy and Zelda. Twihards duke it out with Potterheads. It’s all part of the fun.
If nerds are people who unabashedly love stuff, then flaming nerds are people who shout that passion to the universe. They are those who start conventions and wait for hours in line for the newest release. Perhaps these rivalries and ‘wars’ are godsends to business who couldn’t ask for better publicity. Frankly, I don’t think nerds care. We love to love what we love. It doesn’t get nerdier than that.
What are businesses, books or franchises are you a big fan of? Would you consider yourself a member of a fandom? Do you have a story or experience of someone being too intense about their fandom? What about John Green’s definition of nerd; is it an accurate description?
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