Why there is fanaticism in video games and the reasons for the console war

With the increase of console games fanaticism- in video games had also increased. Here is the report on reasons for console war from experts. These days a new generation of consoles is arriving with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series. A moment of happiness and joy for all of us who love this hobby but which, as is becoming customary, is marred by the everlasting and absurd “console warfare”. From various disqualifications towards companies, developers and even individuals to the most surreal montages to simulate that a console is literally on fire.

For anyone coming from the outside, this absurd harassment and takedown dynamic that we live in the video game industry towards practically any movement of any company, would be little more than a schoolyard fight.. However, I think it is important to delve into what causes this reaction in such a large mass of users, unfortunately, since it is obvious that those who join these discussions number in the thousands and that is worth studying.

What drives an individual to insult or threaten for an electronics brand? In this special we try to shed some light on the reasons behind the console war from a psychological and pedagogical point of view. In this special you can discover how absurd it is and what roots this whole way of thinking has.

The “fans” as we popularly know them are divided into two types: those who enjoy video games on any platform and applaud any positive initiative, and those who, like a football team hooligan, chant and defend tooth and nail “their “marks while they attack without regard the opposite, arriving at the insult and even the violence. Not in vain the fanaticism is defined as “passion and excessive tenacity in defending beliefs or opinions, especially religious or political.” As the academy exposes, fanaticism has historically occurred in religions and political opinions. While religion filled the void of those who were lost in life, and gave them a meaning (wrong or not),It served to identify with a specific group and fight for their rights to the detriment of the opposite opinion, the misnamed others. But, how has it gone from a religious or political fanaticism, long studied throughout history by countless psychologists, to a brand fanaticism? What pushes an individual to spend their time insulting, belittling, discrediting and, ultimately, damaging an electronics brand? Why does this individual feel attacked when someone else praises the management or decisions of the brand they hate?

As they say, there is no single correct answer. But everything seems to indicate that it is a mixture of psychology and brutal marketing . Psychology seeks an explanation for people’s behavior, for the functioning of human reasoning. Marketing seeks to alter that reasoning, knowing how to play with its weak points and exploit them to encourage sales.

Turning the user into a tool

fanaticism in video games

The evolution of marketing and the concept that companies have of the user and how to interact with him has evolved a lot, especially since the 70s when brands began to take advantage of technological improvements to reach their customers by new channels. Moving forward a bit in time, I believe that the germ of the current situation of thousands of brands worldwide is the theory of the ” lovemark ” by Kevin Roberts, exposed in his book The lovemarks effect: Winning in the consumer revolution (2006).

Roberts’s theory of “lovemarks” suggested that a company should go beyond creating a brand to creating a lovemark in order to build customer loyalty. According to Roberts, a lovemark is defined as “a deep and emotional connection that distinguishes a consumer’s experience with a brand from that of a consumer in love with the brand.” In Robert’s opinion, a lovemark is defined as a combination of great love and respect for the brand. Roberts discriminated between lovemarks, brands, products and fashions; based on the level of love and respect experienced by a consumer.

Fashions have a high level of love but a low level of respect

It is observed that the products have low levels of love and respect, I need something and I buy it; fashions have a high level of love but a low level of respect, now it is the best but I know that soon I will stop needing it; brands have a low level of love but a high level of respect, we have no empathy for them but we recognize the quality of their products; and love marks have high levels of love and respect. For example, Apple can be considered a manual lovemark While Dell may have a low level of love but a high level of respect given its longstanding and flawless track record in the marketplace. Long queues to get a new product is a clear example of how consumers show great love and respect for a brand like Apple, something that consumers have never shown for a new Dell product.

In summary, Roberts defends that lovemarks are brands that not only work on their product with the objective of making money, but also strive to create an image, to define themselves with certain ideals to dazzle and make those fans fall in love. To create and maintain that feeling of belonging to a group, emphasize that self-enhancement and nuance its individuality, many brands use leaders who embody their ideals and show the more human side of the company. The case of Steve Jobs is famous, a tech guru who not only sold his products, but also a lifestyle. His figure has been most influential, not only because of the films about his work and life, but also because of how his methods and sales practices are studied in schools. Returning to the video game sector, perhaps the most similar case today is found in Phil Spencer, the CEO of the Xbox division and who has become one of the four horsemen of a Microsoft in a state of grace.

Phil Spencer embodies the image of hope, the image of the gamer manager who has reached where he is with a lot of work and sacrifice, a guy who makes all the decisions he makes thinking about the well-being of the user and consumer, who prioritizes satisfaction over short and long term of the user even if this means reducing the profit margin for a time, a paradigmatic example of the consumer-centric mindset. Famous is its commitment to Xbox Game Pass, a turning point for an industry whose market has been saturated for years with major releases, but even more interesting is its vision of the Xbox ecosystem; of how the player should be able to access their titles from any device and place and how everything works from a single account.

Fanaticism- console war

As the psychologist Sergio Díaz explains to Technoeager: “The fan first has to ‘get hooked’ on the brand, and companies have many ways to retain the user. However, of all the strategies developed for customer retention, they would be the more effective those with an emotional component, “says Díaz. “The scientific studies by Gross and John (2003) showed that a message that appeals to the recipient’s emotions is more likely to be internalized, due to a question of identification and empathy”.

It’s something new? Not at all, Nintendo already did it a long time ago with the indelible smile of Satoru Iwata, the witty and always funny Reggie Fils-Aime or the everlasting Shigeru Miyamoto. But let’s not be fooled, leaders do not generate negative synergies among users, on the contrary. Fortunately we live in a time when social networks bring us much closer to these figures and we can see how they all have a good relationship and congratulate each other on the launch of their new consoles. So why do fans continue with the absurd console war if no brand wants it? Perhaps we can find an explanation from the point of view of psychology.

Love turns to hate, from fan to fan

There is a moment in which a certain type of user, after enjoying the products of a brand and its service, goes from being a fan of that brand to becoming a fan, to taking the future of the company as a personal crusade. You may be wondering where the term fanatic, widely debated in the field of psychology, comes from. A fanatic is understood to be a person who has unconditional adherence to a cause, directly or indirectly, without limits or nuances, to the extent of being able to perform actions that challenge morality. And yet, that person will think in his heart that he is doing the right thing, that he is defending himself from the attack of others.

Diaz himself explains that this step is given, among other reasons, by the emotional deficiencies of the user: “Evolving as a consumer to ‘body’s unconditional of the company depends on the degree of emotional imbalance and its urgent need to fill out the affective gaps The Psychologist Encarnación Irles also tells us that this deviation of conduct usually has a root in the subject’s learning: “We learn what we hear and do what we see”.

Most studies argue that such an intense bond occurs due to dopamine segregated by the brain. Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter that acts as a reward system that is composed of three elements: Salience of stimulus (desire), the hedonic component (pleasure) and learning (conditioning). The neurons that control the segregation of dopamine are closely related to the emotions we experience and they respond based on what happens to us. Most recent studies confirm that the segregated amount is much higher when that good news is totally unexpected. For putting a couple of examples, let’s think about how we feel when our soccer team, who is losing in the 80 minute, put a goal. And now, think about how we feel when, going tied, they are poured a penalty in the 90th minute. And our team marks. Euphoria unleashed.

It is precisely that feeling so intense that it generates dependence. Our brain is accustomed to receiving that dose of pleasure by that same way, especially if we take into account that the area where the most dopamine occurs is in the so-called black substance, located in the medium brain (Tegmental area ventral or ATV) Exactly the area of learning. This leads people to repeat what they learned in search of that new dose of pleasure, making it an addiction.

Fans are attacked when the rival brand makes a good movement

And it is right here when the fan is born, when that person needs the ecstasy and the joy that produces his soccer team, his religion, his political party or, in our case, his video game company, to be able to maintain that bond. “Nobody is born fanatic, it is a process that develops in the person since childhood and especially in adolescence,” says Encarnación Irles. And to strengthen what is our own, some shorten for attacking the company or people who consider rivals as they feel victims, they feel that they are snatching that which gave them happiness, which gave them pleasure. It is what happens in the fights between fans of rival teams, it is what happens with religious groups and intolerant people, which happens with those who are in favor and against abortion …. A same behavior we have seen millions of times throughout history. As defined Enrique Echeburúa, professor of clinical psychology from the University of the Basque Country to which we have consulted on this subject, “While non-fanatics have ideas, fans have beliefs, which are adaptive functions to achieve certainty and safety.”

So fans feel attacked when the rival brand makes a good business move or when the competition’s exclusive game is a hit. Because, in his mind, this jeopardizes his beliefs and does not give him the security of enjoying the “dopamine kick” again for the success of his brand. In the same way it works on the opposite side, any blow that makes the opponent stagger will be celebrated and will encourage fans to flood social networks and forums with countless messages attacking and belittling. Because that makes them feel stronger, it gives them reason, it gives them a -false- moral superiority that they need. This is how Díaz explains: “Studies such as Bandura (Social Fundamentals, 1987) also corroborated that the practice of violence is a key to entering certain circles; Vandalism, aggressions, insults … are a demonstration of commitment.

Here the so-called social identity theory, perfectly exposed by Groene, S. L., & Hettinger, V. E. in the article “Are you Fan Enough? The Role of Identity in Media Fandoms, Psychology Before the study, Groene and Hettinger developed a psychometric identity test of the fans they called Fandom Measure. This includes elements related to how fans identify with their interests, how they are related to other fans and how often they participate in joint activities. After proven it in people from different websites such as forums and others, the authors developed a final version of 44 elements to define the intensity of the link between fan and license.

While this study may provide insight into how the Harry Potter and Twilight fans surveyed view themselves, it is difficult to draw strong conclusions about fan culture in general. No franchise or saga will be the same, so generalizing between different fandoms is not appropriate. Still, the study shows that becoming a devoted fan often means developing a sense of belonging to a larger community of fans. That sense of belonging is definitely going to shape the sense of identity that many fans have and helps explain the excitement we often see at fan conventions, music concerts, and sports arenas around the world. Sergio adds, “Scientific studies on the impact of emotions and affective relationships indicate that emotional deficiencies are filled with generally harmful habits, material objects or by idealizing links to find a way to compensate for them and thus obtain a false balance”. In the same vein, Encarnación Irles is shown: “More insecure people, more rigid minds with overvalued ideas, tend not to stop to think and [b] reduce complex thoughts into simpler ones [b]. On an emotional level they only empathize with their group”.

The fanatic you only see two options: with me or against me

One of the most characteristic features of fanaticism is dichotomy. The fan only sees white or black, is unable to enter the gray. We could think that it is a matter of having a very closed point of view, or may even have something to do with the character of the person, “which certainly influences, but it is never decisive. Díaz argues that “all scientific investigations come to coincide in the same: the existence of a misrepresented reality where the absolute truth is that which exposes the fanatic, and that truth will be defended until the last consequences because their affections are destined Encarnación Irles adds: “They have an affective overvaluation of their beliefs; It consists of living them with a very high intensity. For this reason if you contradict yourself get angry and this can lead to violent attitudes or aggressive behaviors whether physical or verb This is also explained, through science.

The fanatics does not value everything that happens in the same way and for these purposes I consider that it is very interesting to observe the study that Jonas T.kaplan, Sarah I. Gimbel and Sam Harris in 2016 entitled “Neural Correlates of Mintaining One.

Summarizing the conclusions of the study, scientists could check as fanatic, in this political case, is accustomed to thinking and receiving external stimulus by the same track. Basically, the results suggest that the participants are involving the same regions of the brain where we contemplate our identities and we feel the threats. And it is presumably within these circuits where the obstacles are found to accept the facts that contradict our convictions.

But these results represent a step of the most intriguing: the brain processes information with political load (or information about strongly rooted beliefs) in a different way – and perhaps with more emotion – of what processes more mundane events. And this can help explain why attempts to correct erroneous information can be completely counterproductive, leaving people even more convinced of their convictions. What would be, in colloquial terms, throwing fuel to fire.

Can a fan back down and be empathetic?

It is necessary to ask ourselves if a fanatical person can become more objective

Finally, it is necessary to ask ourselves if a fan of a brand, who has already reacted with aggressiveness and lack of empathy before an opposite opinion, can become more objective. How is that return come out? It does not seem at all simple that a person like this begins to think for himself on the consequences of his actions, in the repercussions of his threats and grievances. Sergio Díaz explains that the main difficulty lies in a hormonal process: “There are scientific research such as Schwartz (2001) that explain why it is so complicated to introduce these educational models and reverse the usual practice of violence: the noradrenal.

The Ramón Nogueras psychologist adds that social pressure can work: “Normally either there is a negative and disconmersatory experience that leads to disappointment, or a process of social influence is produced by the person modifies their points of view. By oneself it is very difficult.

At this point it is time for each one to take out its own conclusions. I believe it is evident that there is a serious problem in the current “Gamer” community, that hatred is disseminated by networks too easily and that harassment campaigns are multiplied. I think, at some point, some members of this community forgot why they are here. We are here because we unites us a common hobby and passion, we are here because we love to lose ourselves in virtual environments and make friends. I think we should focus our attention on what unites us instead of looking for reasons to face. With today’s article we have intended to give a founded, clear and concise explanation of why this phenomenon of toxic and aggressive fanatics happens. I hope of heart that helps reflect on those who once got lost and help them improve. Life is not a game, here our acts define us and it is in our Hand to change the course of a community every day more toxic and problematic. Together we can overcome it.

Bibliography

  • Flaherty, A.W, (2005). «Frontotemporal and dopaminergic control of idea generation and creative drive». Journal of Comparative Neurology 493 (1): 147-153
  • Groene, S. L., & Hettinger, V. E. (2016). «Are you “fan” enough? The role of identity in media fandoms. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(4), 324–339.»
  • Kaplan, Jonas & Gimbel, Sarah & Harris, Sam. (2016). «Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence. Scientific Reports. 6. 39589.»
  • Olds, J., & Milner, P. (1954). «Positive reinforcement produced by electrical stimulation of septal area and other regions of rat brain. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 47(6), 419–427.»
  • Qi Z, Miller GW, Voit EO (2008). «Computational Systems Analysis of Dopamine Metabolism. PLoS ONE 3(6): e2444.»
  • Roberts, Kevin. (2006). «The lovemarks effect: Winning in the consumer revolution.»
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