Why Sony Fans Are Called 'Cockroaches' In Japan

Outside Japan, the perception is that all Japanese people love Sony. Sony's a Japanese company, so everyone must support the home team, right? Eh...

Some people in Japan love Sony. Other people hate it. Then some really don't care at all. And over the years, there have been a series of nicknames for the country's biggest fans.

In the past in Japan, Sony diehards were called "GK", which was short for "Gate Keeper" (ゲートキーパー・ジーケー). The origin referred to a proxy server used by Sony and its various companies. So, if the proxy address "gatekeeper.sony.co.jp" appeared above a bulletin board comment, then a Sony employee might have made the comment (Gokipedia has examples from the early part of this century).

That's why Sony fanboys and fangirls started being dubbed "GK" online in Japan, with the implication that they "worked" for the electronics giant. Prior to this, Sony fans were called "Degawa" (出川) after an annoying comedian, Tetsuro Degawa, wore a PlayStation 2 shirt on television. Degawa is not cool, and by association, the term suggested that Sony fans weren't either.

The "GK" derogatory term, however, evolved into "GK no furi" (GKの振り), which means "GK behavior". That term then also evolved into "GK-buri" (GKブリ), which can mean "GK-esque" and looks kind of like "gokiburi" (ゴキブリ), the Japanese word for "cockroach". And thus, Sony fans had a new mean moniker.

Some in Japan also say that Sony's hardware, which is traditional black or glossy, looks "roach-like". The origin of the put-down isn't simply based on hardware appearances.

Here's ASCII art of a Sony gokiburi:

The character says, "Don't call me cockroach. Is there something wrong with liking PlayStation..."

As NicoNico points out, the "gokiburi" nickname for Sony fans started appearing online in around 2010. The term still exists and was thrown about Japanese message boards and forums during this month's E3 gaming expo, with Microsoft and Nintendo fans as well as those who simply hate Sony firing off the insult. (Note: Fans of Sony's rivals also have derisive nicknames, and yes, Kotaku will be covering those at a later date).

No doubt, "gokiburi" will get more use as the console war heats up. Like real roaches, this isn't an insult that's likely to go extinct anytime soon.

Picture: Elliotte Rusty Harold/Shutterstock


    Sony’s a Japanese company, so everyone must support the home team, right?
    errrm little company called Nintendo might be considered the home team since it was around first :)

      Sony was founded in 1940's. Nintendo on the other hand was founded in 89'. Though they did produce card prior to their gaming system which still start in the 1950's. So either way Sony is older than Nintendo.

        from Wikipedia "Nintendo is the world's largest video game company by revenue.[6] Founded on September 23, 1889"

        Yes, nintendo was founded in '89, but it's 1889, and released their first video game console in '77, almost 20 years before sony released their first console

        Nintendo is an older company, and has made video game hardware and software longer.

        maybe nintendo america was founded in 1989, but not nintendo japan.

    From what I have seen living here in Fukuoka, Japan, the popularity of Nintendo far outstrips the popularity of Sony, and don't even mention Microsoft they are such a minority in the market. PS3 and PSP are popular, don't get me wrong, but if you took a quick look at what people play on the train, its either an iPhone/iPod or a DS, hardly ever a PSP.

    But this is an interesting article, an an insight into the hard-to-crack world of Japanese forums, which unless you are really good at Japanese can be intimidatingly foreign.

    Nintendo has been around a touch longer than '89. Sure it was founded in '89, but a century before the '89 you imply.

    Sep 23rd 1889 :p some near 50 years before Sony.

    Dear Japan,
    Would you like to swap Vegemite with Sony?

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