Why do Gamers have Platform Bias?
Matt wisely commented on my last post:
I hate all the smack talk between systems. No one is ever right.
Who gives a flying $hit if Microsoft or Sony win?
As pure consumers of video games, Matt is absolutely right. There is no reason to cheer on one company vs. another. No movie watchers cheer one movie publisher vs another, why would video gamers act differently?
But, of course, gamers do develop strong allegiances towards one platform vs another, even when they have plenty of money to comfortably buy all the systems and games that they want.
Video games operate in the world of vying technology platforms and standards and in that world there are a few important phenomena to be aware of:
“Positive Feedback Loop” and “Winner-Takes-All”
Positive Feedback Loop: If technology A is successful, that success leads to money and and industry excitement which lead to the technology becoming even more successful. If technology B is more successful than A, it gets more money to reinvest and gets more of the industry’s excitement which generally lead to more growth and a widening of it’s lead over A.
Winner Takes All: Generally, for one particular type of technology, a single competitor pulls ahead and becomes the dominant standard and everyone is expected to conform and adopt the dominant technology, whether they want to or not. This naturally leads to much bitterness and resentment as people are forced to conform to technologies that they didn’t chose and often do not like.
The above two effects give people strong incentive to cheer the products and companies related to the products that they love and root against products and companies with related to competing products that they resent and want to see held in check.
Other People’s Bias
A third factor is other people’s biases. We hear a lot from our friends, families, professors, bosses at work, and from the media that we consume, that we often hear quite a bit of other people’s biases. We often grow to resent those biases develop a natural reaction to head in the exact opposite direction of the original bias.
People have very natural reasons for developing this type of bias, but it isn’t generally productive, particularly for a basic leisure activity. Your personal behaviors as an individual are generally too small to cause any significant effects and your interests as a consumer are best served by being politically neutral.
Of course, I’m guilty myself from time to time, but no one is perfect.