Building off of his essay where he asked 'who's winning the battle for the hardcore?', Chris Bateman has posted an essay on 'what makes fanboys tick?'. His answer? Much like fanatics on any side of sports rivalry, political divides, or religious divides, it's cognitive dissonance at work. As Bateman explains, "When we come across situations that radically contradict our beliefs, we are filled with an uncomfortable feeling: to lessen this unpleasant experience (which is termed cognitive dissonance) we modify our beliefs in a way that will lessen the cognitive dissonance." What does this have to do with console wars (and warring factions?):
Now it may seem that committing your loyalty to Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo is a world apart from committing to a political or religious stance - after all, the stakes of politics are the leadership and government of society and the world, and the stakes of metaphysical belief can seem even more serious to both atheists and theists. Why should videogame fanboys be so invested in their loyalty to one platform over another?
Remember that the parts of the brain activated in partisan response are those involved in assessing risk and reward, and cognitive dissonance is involved in protecting one's prior decisions against disconfirming evidence. The reward in the context of videogame players is the enjoyment they will earn from playing the games on the various console systems, often in the form of fiero (triumph over adversity) - that hot and addictive emotional reward from overcoming immense challenge - but this is far from the only form of reward to be found in play. The decision each fanboy has made at some point in the past is which console will give them the greatest emotional reward from play - and for loyalists who stick with one console manufacturer from generation to generation, this decision was made a long time ago.
It's worth a look see; Bateman concludes that fanboyism will never go away, but it does give us a chance to look at an "unseen aspect of cognitive dissonance that we are all subject to but can rarely catch a glimpse of without exceptional circumstances."
On Fanboys [Only a Game]