Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Cult of Fanbois

Being a grumpy old curmudgeon, there are many things about the gaming hobby that get on my goat.  Models being called pieces, gamers who don’t believe that a game should be fun for all participants and a lack of personal hygiene at events are just a few.  However nothing annoys me more than the cult of the fanboi.

This all was brought into focus by a conversation that I had with someone the other day about Wyrd and Malifaux.  We were talking about the RPG kickstarter and how underwhelmed we were by it and he said that he was coming to a point where he was able to divorce his love for Malifaux from his love of Wyrd.  Now this resonated with me as it seems that a lot of people can't make that separation.

You only need to go onto the Wyrd forums and you will be able to see this in action.  The smallest criticism of the company and the way it goes about business is quickly met with a chorus of people taking you to task for having the audacity to say something that isn't fawning praise.  You even get the owners of the company doing it, in posts, which to me, come across as a small child saying if you don’t let me win then I’m taking my ball away. 

Before you think that I am having a go at the Wyrd / Malifaux community, this is in no way a phenomenon restricted to them.  GW is renowned for having the most rabid fanbois out there, folks who lap up everything they do and attempt to shout down any and all opposing opinions – of course GW also have the anti fanboi who will just say anything they produce is crap, but that’s another blog post :).  I’m sure Privateer Press suffers from the same thing.

So this is what I don’t get, how these people aren’t able to divorce the love of the game from the company that produces it.  Companies exist to provide their owners and employees with salaries and hopefully at the end of the day a nice big pay-out that enables them to retire.  If they are able to keep the customer base happy that’s great – happy customers means more product sold after all - but they aren’t there to look out for you.  They are not your mate, you wife or your lover, they are a business, just like a bank is!

So the next time that someone criticises your favourite games company think before you respond, do you actually disagree with what that person is saying, or are you just blindly jumping to the defence of an entity that really only likes you so it can sell you more stuff.


  1. Shooo... I was worried at first this was a rant about people like me being a Fanboi for Malifools, Gamers Lounge and Lost Boys Radio.

    That said, well said Mike. I don't know for sure where I am am on the Fanboi scale for Wyrd. I am invested in the game system: thus it means I do feel the need to defend what I perceive as someone attack the game I like.

    But I am also cognizant enough to know that there is a huge difference between a Company and it's product. And a company will make choices that I as a consumer do not like. And when those times do come around I have generally been the first person to voice my dislike.

    So I guess what I am trying to say since I seem unable to actually make a point: thanks.

  2. Nice post. As someone who has been decried as a Sycophant for Wyrd, apparently I fall deeply into the realm of being the Fanboi your talking about. I wonder though..... is there room for people who as a consumer agree with what the company does?

    To this end, I have built a personal relationship with some of the decision makers at Wyrd. Are we friends, well we don't exactly hang out every weekend. We do try and get together when we are in town at the same time though, so that's something. Through this I have some insights into how they do business and I actually agree with the majority of moves they make as a business. I have lived through and experienced the "Damned if you do, Damned if you don't" gamer mentality that is prevalent in the Wyrd player community. I wonder, is there an anti-fanboi? A person who is determined to hate the game (similar to the GW Anti-Fans you mention) and where do they play in the overall community?

    Just some musing and a different perspective. I will say, there are certainly things Wyrd has done that do not sit well with me. I just see far more positive in their decisions than negative, so I do not cry to the heavens about the negative.

  3. I know exactly where you are coming from Nix. At one point I had exactly the same relationship with the top folks at GW, not mates but would say hello over a pint etc. and if I saw them outside 'gaming life' then I could say hello.

    Being that Malifaux is the game that I play at the moment I suppose the piece may well come off as 'anit-wyrd' but its really not supposed to as I tend to agree with a lot of the decisions that they make - move to plastic being the most recent one.

    However when I see what I believe are mistakes (70% of book 4 will be available at Gencon, length of time to do Hamelin errata) then I feel that folks should be able to offer criticism without being shouted down, and to be honest, we're busy isn't really an acceptable excuse IMO

    Of course none of this actually stops me playing the game.

  4. You know I had a massive post all ready to go, and then my iOS bugged out and it wouldn't post.

    In short, love the post. I think a distinction between being a fan of Malifaux and a fan of Wyrd is in order. I used to think Wyrd could do no wrong, then they did wrong by me.

    It's not on the same scale as the burn I feel from GW, but it does feel like there's been a shift in business style and I may not be happy with the direction.

    Will it stop me henching? Probably not. And will it stop me doing Malifaux demos? Definatly not.