As internet-browsing gamers, we all get caught up in the infamous console wars from time-to-time, where Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft fans argue over which is best. Although it is about much more than merely which is better, because the debate often quickly becomes about personal attack. Nintendo fans are criticized as being children and female, or mothers and grandmothers.
On the other hand, PlayStation and XBox gamers are bagged for being simpletons who think they are cool guys, but apparently have nothing but a taste for bloodshed with games like Call of Duty. These stereotypes of the console wars couldn’t be further from the truth, and yet the debates rage on.
Its amusing that the fans draw divides between the three companies far more than Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo actually do. It is the fans that say Nintendo is all about gimmicks for the kids and it is the fans who say XBox and Playstation are all about the graphics for guys. In reality, all three companies target all audiences.
Nintendo knows that they missed providing consumers with more technically advanced games on the Wii, and so with the Wii U they are trying to rectify that. Similarly, Sony and Microsoft saw that Nintendo had successfully reached a new market of gamers with the Wii, DS and 3DS, and so it is that they developed the PlayStation Move and XBox Kinect, respectively.
It is a misguided fan ideal to think that each company targets specific types of gamers while ignoring others. In this commercial world, the companies are competitors who are trying to outdo each other. But as they strive to outdo each other, it is we fans who win because we don’t have to limit ourselves because of petty fan wars. We can get the best of all consoles and ignore the worst.
While in my case, Nintendo will always remain my fond favorite, it is not about picking sides. As consumers, we can pick and choose what we consider the best of all consoles and reward each company when they do something we consider right, by voting with our money.
Many people will be reading through this thinking that this is all obvious and “goes without saying,” which it should, but if everyone embraced this there wouldn’t be petty fan console wars. Why can’t we all accept that each console has their place in gaming? That there is nothing wrong with being a cross-platform gaming fan?
Why, as people, do we feel the need to rank everything as better or worse and pick sides? Why can’t we just take everything for what it has to offer and each gaming experience for what it’s worth? For it’s own merits, without comparison?
When it comes to cost-effectiveness for us consumers, there are seemingly benefits if we could get every game we desire on the one console, but can you imagine a one-console market? It would be a monopoly where that single company’s flaws would be increasingly apparent. With three companies producing consoles they purposely try to overcome each others flaws to win the market audiences that the others are missing.
In that sense the consoles are complements for the games they provide target a wealth of different styles and tastes, just as different consoles and games even target different aspects of our personality. Competition in the market is not merely about targeting different user groups within the audience, but fulfilling all desires of the individual gamer. I find it hard to believe that one console could fulfill anyone’s gaming desires completely.
Sadly, the whole fan wars seem to be an innate human characteristic as they are not just limited to gaming. Like gamers, sports fans are divided by what truly constitutes football: soccer, rugby, gridiron, Gaelic or Australian rules? Wrestling fans are divided between WWE being “family friendly” and TNA being “hardcore.”
Everyone loves some form of music, but to Metallica fans Justin Bieber cannot produce “music,” and yet the Bieber fans think likewise if they even know what a ‘Metallica’ is. People who drive manual transmissions say that automatic transmissions aren’t for real drivers, whereas automatic drivers say manuals are for Bogans: for men’s men that need it to feel like men.
Every hobby is divided and everything that can be divided has wars. Like sports, music and transmissions, not only do they target different audiences, they target different aspects of our personality and needs. From story-driven games, to mere simple fun, to massive RPGS or to shooters, they each satisfy different parts of different people, just as the consoles that provide these experiences do.
Why do we have to trash the consoles that aren’t our favorite? Why is it that we apparently have to pick a side? My whole life has been about balance across consoles. Growing up as a kid it was the Nintendo 64, and then the Playstation 2. Then it was the XBox and the GameCube. For me now it is the Wii and XBox 360 combination that fulfills my gaming needs.
Nintendo provides the core franchises that I love, whereas the 360 provides other titles that Nintendo does not, such as Bethesda’s Skyrim or Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto. Furthermore the 360 provides better quality versions of regular released series like WWE ’13 that Nintendo consoles often just get watered down versions of. Nintendo is striving to fix that with the Wii U, but in the meantime another gaming console fills in for that flaw as the perfect complement.
As my consoles sit next to each other by the television, they don’t fight. They just sit there in harmony, complementing each other. Two is better than one, so they say, and its true for consoles. While their respective companies try to outdo each other what I get as a consumer is different consoles providing for more of my gaming needs.
Yet the fanboys and fangirls continue to have their flaming wars. Personally I have to conclude that the whole war has to do with money. Consumers without much money have to pick one console and ride it out through the highs and lows, which causes them to lash out towards the other consoles. Consumers with enough money to enjoy multiple consoles are not so shallowly set on the success of one platform.
Regardless of how these wars rage on, we really just need to let people enjoy what they enjoy on whatever console it may be. Hopefully one day the half of the gaming world focused on rivalries will just take each experience for what it’s worth. Hopefully they will realize that there is no specific noun for Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft fans individually: we are all the collective of gamers.
The stereotypes of Nintendo gamers being children or Sony and Microsoft gamers being ‘jock’ teen-to-twenty year-old males are as outdated as the notion that girls don’t game. Every console has its pros and cons, with good and bad experiences waiting to be had on each console.
What the commercial industry sees as competition for us gamers is nothing more than complementarity. One company will always be unable to provide variety, so competition makes up for each consoles flaws and limitations. For us as gamers the competitive console market is a win-win situation, if we’d all just open our eyes and stop being so petty.