Console Wars: Revenge of the Manbabies | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Console Wars: Revenge of the Manbabies

War! The games industry is crumbling under attacks by the ruthless Fanboys. There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.

What is fandom?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with fandom
If you’ve spent any time at all online, you’ll likely have seen this phenomenon in some form. Whether it’s KPop-obsessed teens (‘stans’) or grown men with their favourite football club in their Twitter bio, you’ve almost definitely come across some kind of fandom in your time. And let me get this cleared up first: there’s nothing inherently wrong with fandom. A lot of the time, it’s a significant growing experience in our young lives. I was invested in Reading Football Club to an obsessive extent a few years back, following all the players on all social media, adding my input to online discussions regarding signings, managers, performances and the like. I even invaded the pitch with the rest of the adoring and celebrating Madejski stadium crowd when the club got promoted back in 2012. It’s fine to have idols. It’s fine to celebrate them. Many people find inspiration in pop stars and the like. Hell, it’s fine to just have celebrity crushes and go to bat for them every time they get criticised in a comments section.

When fandom becomes toxic, however, is when it impairs the ability of others to live their lives unimpeded. When racist football fans take their false sense of entitlement and superiority and express it with their chuckling, equally horrendous little friends, fandom’s ugly side rears its head. When you go on Twitter and see stan accounts dogpiling the ex-partner of their favourite celebrity, when you see actors bullied off of social media by harassers under the facade of criticism; this is when fandom gets ugly.

Our industry is plagued with the worst aspects of fandom there are
Video games are far from exempt. Gaming fandom has given rise to some of the worst coordinated and targeted harassment campaigns, threatening the safety of marginalised people. From a certain controversy that won’t be named back in 2014 all the way to the present day, where gamers are getting people fired for speaking their mind on personal social media, our industry is plagued with the worst aspects of fandom there are. One might be forgiven for thinking that maybe, petty spats regarding which video game console is best is something of a welcome break for a community so plagued with violence and entitlement. Surely, whiny babies desperately claiming that Halo is better than Uncharted can’t be the worst we have?

Not so, unfortunately. Xbox Spain’s Community Manager has been the latest in a long line of targets. Alejandra Pernias has been in her role since October, and had showcased in previous social media posts that she was a fan of all things gaming. This sounds great, apart from one thing: she owns a PS4.

Gamers in spain harassed a community manager from twitter because she bought a ps4 game - a continuation of the ongoing so-called 'console wars'

No, seriously, that was the issue a lot of people ran with. Showing her new obsession, Overwatch on PS4, on Twitter, a number of fans took to the platform to voice their discontent with what she was doing in her free time, publicised on a personal account. These Xbox fans are so obsessed that they are willing to take down an important member of staff, the most customer-facing role there is, in defence of their beloved piece of plastic and wires. That’s what the Console Wars is all about. I do see similar beats in this case compared to ‘gamer’ culture as a whole - casting oneself as a minority character in your own story with enemies to fight against, only this time, the enemy is those who prefer a different form of hardware, rather than more common foes like progressivism and feminism. Given Pernias’ position as CM, fans decided that she should be on their side, an ally against those who would prefer the PS4 to the Xbox One, and playing a multiplatform game on PlayStation feels like treachery to these fans.

There’s even missed context in the tweet - Pernias tags people, claiming she has fallen into an Overwatch rabbit hole thanks to them. Perhaps her friends all had the game on that platform, and understandably couldn’t be all expected to switch? Not that there’s any excuse. Context or not, there’s no excuse for painting her as ‘the enemy at home’, with so many unwanted inputs that her entire account has been deleted. It would be remiss not to mention that Pernias is a woman, something a significant portion of the gaming community finds scary, and we often see this harassment directed at women with the express goal of making gaming an unwelcoming place for people who aren’t straight, white and male. It’s symptomatic of a wider issue of course, but no more acceptable.

It would be remiss not to mention that Pernias is a woman, something a significant portion of the gaming community finds scary
Are we such fans of brands that we can’t think of the individuals? The people who put their hearts into making Xbox what it is today, those who have fostered such a large and diverse community, are on a thin pedestal, like everyone in the industry.

The fandom will lash out at the drop of a hat. Just please, don’t be them. Don’t support corporate bodies whose only goal is profit. Don’t become a vehicle to be used by ungrateful shareholders, rich thanks to your validation. They’ve done nothing to deserve your tribalistic, undying backing.

Be better. Support people in the industry. Show your appreciation for their work. Tell a developer they’re fab. Other fandoms can at least manage that.

Gaming Editor. Was told it's probably a good idea to change my bio from being a Garth Marenghi reference. (@jamesmaclaw)


11th January 2019 at 7:00 am

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