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Forums - Gaming Discussion - The human element to war?

Ok, so there is a lot of debating going on here, some of it logical, some of it logical fallacy, some of it argumentative, and some of it just pure bashing. But why do people debate the topic of "which console is best" so vehemently? From what i can see it seems to be part of being human. As has been raised before, most people that are fanboys (of any console) are fanboys predominantly because they saw something in a certain piece of hardware, or a certain IP that has attracted them on some level, this attraction being a human trait, this then has to be combined with other human elements. In modern society, the act of buying and owning items, especially electronic goods is becoming more and more a sign of a person's social standing. The way this works is that a person's job; of which time, effort, education and intellect all play a part in deciding what job you have; relates directly to how much money they earn. The spending of this money on items then is a display of social standing and affluence. This would have been the end of the story except for credit. Now people can use credit to make up for a lack of social standing. This is all perceptual by the way and arguably at an ego or super ego level, just outside concious thought for most people. Most people are aware of this, and the tried and true axiom "keeping up with the jones" is a saying that arose from simple observation and truth. So... A videogame console, generically speaking, is another item that people can add to their list of haves. On a social level this needs to be treated generically. To the person who buys a console it is a little bit more than a generic item. It now represents time and effort through the accrual of money in order to buy that console, or rather a choice to place oneself into debt if using credit. This personalises a person's choice of console, even if the initial driving factor for buying that console was a specific IP. When one person expresses their opinion that they like their console better than the one you have chosen there is the natural human response to debate this as it is a passive aggressive attack on your own choice of console. To go further and have people say that your choice of console is bad, elevates the response. Again this response needs to be considered at the ego or super ego level and accounts for percieved social standing. Considering these elements its is perfectly natural that PS3 owners will defend their console, as it represents a significant investment. The same to a slightly lesser extent for XB360, and the same again for the Wii. Mind you this is all just a hypothesis. Making things even more difficult is that it is a hypothesis based on the human psyche/mind. So to extend this "human element" to the console war i ask the question of whether or not any one can predict who will win (remembering win is a very loosely defined term, is it win by sales, win by profit, win by consumer loyalty?) without considering the soft carbon element at the end of the sales line. The consumer. Using iPod as an example of the human element an it's importance. The iPod is by far and away not the best MP3 player out there, or the cheapest, yet it is the most popular and most profitable. Many have put this down to the fact that Apple considered the human element. The menu system on an iPod, compared to other MP3 players at the time, was relatively simple. Indeed it applied simple HMI (human machine interface) concepts in order to make it more appealing. (Apple was one of the first companies to apply the strick 3 click rule to menu systems, Nokia previously did it, but not to such a simplified level.) This alone would not have been enough though. So Apple made the iPod attractive on a base level. Clean, simple, minimalistic in design, almost a fashion accessory. The combinatino of these two elements won over the human element in terms of people buying an MP3 player (talking about the massese here). Given this sites focus on sales we'll use sales to define a winner. I would then hypothesis that from this generation the winner will be decided by who caters to the human at the end of the line the best, accounting for base human emotions. Compared to the Wii and PS3 i personally "feel" (note the emotive word) that the XB360 is ugly. This is just one example of all the subconcious elements that will go into a person making a choice to buy a console. Other things like evoking fond childhood memories of "retro" games is another element. Finally the general social element plays a big part. For example, if enough people buy a certain system, and they are seen to enjoy that system (even if they are not games that you would personally enjoy) there comes a human element of jealousy. DS with kids is a perfect example. More kids have a DS than a PSP at schools. Although the PSP is superior in terms of performance does that really matter? Not entirely, not unless it can evoke a jealously in the onlookers. Rather the PSP has set itself apart and essentially ostrisized itself from the child market. Kids want to be like all the other kids, and if most kids have a DS, then why do you want to be different? Mob mentality. A very similar mentalitly applies to the adult market. DS is for games, if people buy a handheld console it's for games (generally) as the primary, and most people that are going to buy one of these consoles will already own portable DVD players, MP3 players, phones with MP3 players, etc. The general consumer is going to want games. Quick enjoyable games and with relative fashion sense. In this regard the DS Lite wins over. Again i am talking GENERALITIES. The numbers on the front page are my evidence of this generality. In these early days i don't feel any system can be written off. I do think however that certain trends can be seen, but these trends are fickle as they count on the people at the end of the line. N64 is a good example of this. After a period of time, people that bought the N64 felt a little bit betrayed by the lack of support shown to their console and so it slowly died and PS took off as it garnered more support. The community was willing to change because they felt betrayed, note again the emotive words. All the manufacturers have taken gambles of some sort this generation in hopes of trying to predict the ever fickle human element. Realistically the only way the can succeed is to forget about the competition (not entirely obviously) and focus on you and me. The company that does that best will win. At the moment the Wii seems to be doing that best. However this can stall like the N64 did if Ninty does maintain it's focus on keeping you and me happy constantly and consistenly. I want to feel that my spending was warranted. Sony are behind the eight ball in this regard based on pricing point and the percieved trojan horse of BluRay. They HOPE and gamble that they have thought of the customer of the future, but it has come at the cost of the current customer. Remember people this is all generalities and looking big picture here. If people turn around and see DVD as adequate, and don't want to spend hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars updating their current movie library to BluRay, then PS3 has in part tied itself to what may turn out to be a flop format. To all those that may keep an eye on formats consider just some of the technically superior and very good formats that never really took off, Beta, MiniDisc, LaserDisc (LP sized CD for movies) DAT Tape, DVHS and countless other smaller formats. If BluRay joins this heap, along with HDDVD, because people really are content with DVD's and have intvested their money in this format, then PS3 will have its fate tied in part to BluRay. Of course the saving grace will be that it plays games, but it will need to be priced appropriately. Ok, i have had my rant. Apologies to all that feel gipped by having read my "long winded" psychobabble i have presented here. Please remember these are purely hypothesies. As always i am open to intelligent discussion.

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Geez, you don't have to look into it all that much. I root for the Miami Heat. Why? Not because of Shaq. Not because of Wade. Because of Mourning and Hardaway. Despite a really kick-ass comeback, Mourning is a fading shadow on the roster. Hardaway is currently the disgrace of the entire league. But when my Miami Heat went toe-to-toe with the New York Nicks, five straight years in a row, when they played four straight almost-winning games against the then-unbeatable Chicago Bulls, they hooked me. I don't watch football, even though the Dolphins are historically a more successful team than the Heat. I don't watch baseball, even though the Marlins have won the World Series twice, and I served Jeff Conine ice cream once. I don't watch hockey, even though... actually, the Panthers suck. But I watch basketball, and I root for the Heat, even from 7,000 miles away. Because somewhere along the line, they hooked me, and even though I didn't like Brian Grant or Eddie Jones at first, and even though I thought trading afformentioned Grant, along with promising new guys, for Shaq was the slimiest thing the franchise has ever done... they've never done anything to make me unhook myself. Same thing with video games. Seriously, what the hell do I care if a bunch of people I've never met get a trophy I'll never see? What do I care if Nintendo sells a bajillion DSs in one week? But I care about both. Why? Because I'm a fanboy. No further explanation needed.

So what made you a fanboy then? Human emotion showing through in a sense of loyalty? And rooting for a sports team is all part of the human element. However in the grand scheme of things neither you, me or any other fanboy out there matter. Its just like politics. The general rule for a two party system is that each party will nominally capture 1/3 the votes. The final 1/3 is called the swinging voter, in the end it is this 1/3 that decides who wins. The same is true about videogame consoles, or even just general consumer goods. If you enter a market you can be expected to take a fair share. What will win it for you is when you get the swinging margin who just goes with their gut feel. Yes it's an indepth look into a totally beneign subject. but 1) i'm bored and 2) most importantly i've read the same old arguments fought from different shades of grey time and again, thought it was time to bring something new to the table. A different way to play maybe?

no, it's the other way around: loyalty shows through as human emotion. Question is where the loyalty comes from, and that's different for each individual person, and even each individual loyalty. it's pointless to try to generalize loyalty... I'm loyal to the Heat because they were the underdogs. I'm loyal to Nintendo because they were the over-dogs. Funny how things completely reverse over the course of 10 years(and then a second time in the following one year :-p). I'm loyal to Billy Joel because all the cool people liked him (you think I'm joking... but I just had my own definition of "cool"). I'm loyal to Israel because I was born here, and that's defined me for most of my life. I'm loyal to my friends, because they'll define me until the day I die. I'm loyal to Disney World because I've been there more times than Universal Studios. I'm loyal to Charlie Kaufman because I have never seen a single film of his that wasn't batshit-amazing. Now, if you would, please explain my loyalty to ice cream. I don't know where that came from, honestly.

J_Jay2000 said: Yes it's an indepth look into a totally beneign subject. but 1) i'm bored and 2) most importantly i've read the same old arguments fought from different shades of grey time and again, thought it was time to bring something new to the table. A different way to play maybe?
Maybe. My pet theory is that people are naturally competitive, and gamers (especially the 'hard core' variety) tend to be more competitive than average. This competitive spirit is likely what attracted them to gaming. A console company really is like a sports team for hard core video game players, that was an excellent analogy on fishamaphone's part. Of course, as consoles tend to have shorter lifespans than sports teams we purchase a console based on what it brings to the table, and how well it caters to what we want to see in future games. It may be graphics, it may be the controllers, it may be the past performance of the company. That's the hook, and in a room full of competitive people with differing opinions, you're going to see these sort of disagreements. It's no different from a room full of football or basketball fans arguing their favorite teams. Apart from the console, I see these gamers divided primarily into four camps in these sort of discussions: As you mentioned, there's the different way to play camp. I'm squarely in this one myself, so I'll describe my reasoning. I grew up with games that weren't full of eye candy, but packed a lot of fun. Particularly the multiplayer games, starting with the first Pong console I owned. As more types of games arrived, game play had to be innovative if a game were to do well. I want to see more of that, as I see the trend toward me-too games differentiating themselves with improved graphics continuing ad nauseum if the current set of hard core gamers are the only people who are catered to. (Additionally, I want more games that my wife and I can enjoy together, so she doesn't feel ostracized while I'm playing games. I suppose that's another discussion however.) There's also the graphics camp. These people want as much eye candy as a console can pop out, pushing their displays to the maximum resolution while drawing the individual beads of sweat that come off the characters they're controlling. My guess is that they're looking for the maximum suspension of disbelief so they can further "get into" the game so to speak. Graphics will continue to improve the most on consoles with the most horsepower, and that's where these people are going to flock. There are a lot of hard core gamers in this camp, witness the progression of high end graphics accelerators in PCs. It needn't be said that there is also the brand loyalty camp. These people purchase their console from the same company, regardless of what it brings to the table, based on the company that makes it - loyalty which is typically earned by a well-performing product in the past. There are a few of these, but I find that gamers are a fickle lot in general and loyalty is the exception rather than the rule. The existing ones are very vocal however. Finally, you have the price camp. These people have purchased a console, and simply don't have the sort of funds necessary to purchase another if the ship sinks. They're going to push their console very hard, whatever the flaws, because if it doesn't succeed they're going to have a difficult time getting another. Money is a powerful factor when you don't have much of it. There are plenty of other stances to be sure, but most people seem to fall into the aforementioned camps. Some fall into multiple camps, although it's usually possible to pick out one. Who's to say which is the most correct? They're all based on personal preference, even if the preference is how much one wants to spend, and as with any product game companies will design their console based on their vision of the most desireable item on the market.

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Loyalty isn't an emotion as such. It's a rationalisation. Initially you chose your friends on some base human emotion. You now hold those friends dear as a part of a circle of people that define you. Loyalty to your friends comes from a fear of losing that element of your life that you see as defining you. Brand loyalty is based on a trust fear relationship aswell. You want good games, you trust Ninty based on past experience, you don't want to pay good money for something you don't trust, so you'll be loyal to Ninty. same goes for PS and XB supporters. Emotions drive us all. Its inescapable and what makes us human. It shapes our character and directs us to make certain choices, such as which console we'll buy. Loyalty to ice cream over what else? Where's a Freud's recliner when you need it.

Quoth J_Jay2000: Loyalty to ice cream over what else? Where's a Freud's recliner when you need it.
Sometimes, a dessert is just a dessert.

baka said: There are plenty of other stances to be sure, but most people seem to fall into the aforementioned camps. Some fall into multiple camps, although it's usually possible to pick out one. Who's to say which is the most correct? They're all based on personal preference, even if the preference is how much one wants to spend, and as with any product game companies will design their console based on their vision of the most desireable item on the market.
I completely recognise these stances and agree with you whole heartedly that these groups exist. The theory i'm proposing was that the winner of this gen of consoles will also understand this. By understanding this, and the human element they will be able to make people come to the camp of their choice and hence drive sales. Why are the graphics people so graphically driven? Competitiveness and a sense of pride in owning the superior console? I would think so. This sense of pride in superiority is however driven by companies in order for them to achieve sales and profits. Why are graphics touted as such a big driving factor in games, because the consumer is told that they are. If a company can however reverse that trend by understanding the human element, then they not only stand to be very competitive, but to pick up the pieces of a disbanded market segment and increase their own sales. There in lies the trick. The reverse is also true. Have the market beleive that the way of the future is hardware performance increases and graphical output and capture the audience. There of course needs to room for SIGNIFICANT improvement AND INNOVATION amongst all of this however (the two have to go hand in hand). Did Zelda or Mario64 need better graphics than they had to suspend your disbelief about their fantasy worlds? Look at TV. How much change has there really been in TV since it was first produced as a consumer item. Very little in the grand scheme of things. However now that companies have to fight harder for your money, they want you to believe you need a new TV, a bigger TV, and so you become a true CONSUMER, which equals profits for them. Either way, i suppose what i have been really trying to drive at is that human emotion, the human element in general, and which company best understands it and manipulates it, will decide the winner of this gen. Hardcore gamers in the true sense of the term should be those people at the cutting edge of gaming. If the cutting edge of gaming had been defined 10,15 or 20 years ago as game size and complexity the console race/war would not be on hardware graphics possibilities, but rather on game length, size on disk/memory, complexity, or maybe some other random factor and gamers ability to stick to it. Ther is no money in that though, so of course hardware is pushed. So Ninty this time around have tried to push hardware in a direction that would really re-define what a gamer and what a hardcore gamer are, sony have done the same, but theirs is an image thing, rather than re-defining the actual terms. Now a hardcore gamer to Sony is a business man who can watch a BluRay movie on his HD LCD TV and then afterwards let out a bit of steam playing a console that also matches his sleek surroundings.

baka said: Quoth J_Jay2000: Loyalty to ice cream over what else? Where's a Freud's recliner when you need it. Sometimes, a dessert is just a dessert.
Aww man, really? i was hoping that i could take Freuds point of view on it and that it was a metaphor for all the sweet moments that are evoked during sex, and thinking about sex. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

I see it like this: You root for the underdog, you root for the "overdog". There's nothing wrong about that. We do it all the time. It's your values vs the "dog's" values that drive us to root for the top or bottom "dog". For instance, Michael Schumacher vs Ayrton Senna. I liked Senna, hated Schumacher. Hated his arrogant, 1/4 moon concave face. Hated his unsportsmanlike conduct when racing. Hated the team order fiasco associated with him. Mind you, these are my reasons to hate him. Yours may differ. You may like him. That's besides the point. Guess what? Fans of Schumacher will completely poo-poo my reasons for hating him. They will pull out all sorts of stats that make him look like the greatest driver ever (which is probably true). Some may not give a rat's ass for ANY F1 race driver. They may go for the team. In all, very different people, with different values. This carries over not just in sports, but in politics, religion, and of course, video games. In short, if it has the potential to polarize, it will. People talking about graphics and innovation and whatnot - these are just rational justifications for reasons firmly embedded within emotion. Schumacher may have broken nearly all F1 records, but he had a huge fanbase before reaching all those records. Being loyal is nothing more than trying to uphold your reasons for supporting the "dog" in the first place. After all, if you are so easily swayed by your values and beliefs, then what values and beliefs do you have as a person? That is why when you become a "fan" you tend to defend your views with tenacity lest you be proven otherwise and your whole value structure comes crumbling down. They are, after all, your beliefs. Sounds familiar? You bet. You just spent [insert amount here] on a next-gen system, controllers and games, and may not be buying another system for quite some time. Your investment needs to be justified. You'd hate to see that your investment sinks. You'd hate to be proven wrong by all the other fanboys out there. So yes, this has a lot to do with social status, the human element, and whatnot. However, those variables all have to do with what you perceive as important values. Some people need the sense of status. Some couldn't care less, for whom other values will become the overriding factor. As an example, I love bang for the buck and couldn't care less about brand. That is my mantra. and that makes me a fan of many obscure brands! Me? Right now, I've still got games on my PS2 and Xbox that I haven't even tried, let alone pass. I bought a Wii because I wanted to try out the remote controller concept. My PC currently dishes out the HD gaming I need. I no doubt will buy a PS3 and a 360, most likely this winter. By that point, I won't really care which console dominates. And if you had all three consoles, frankly, why should you?