The population distribution on forums has very long tails, but I still find myself curious about some of these people. There is a substrain of fanboyism that I call apologetics: some fans cheer their games or boo the others, but these folks are devoted to defending the game against complaints, right or wrong, and seemingly most loudly when least defensibly.

The stages of denial seem to be denying that something happens, denying that it is a problem, and denying its importance. This is the politest case, assuming it does not collapse into personal attacks during step one. To take last week’s example (now solved), this was an obvious and acknowledged problem including a customer effort to track it, and here we have players announcing that they play on four lag-free servers and maybe you should stop buying K-Mart blue light special computers. When Qaddafi says there are no problems in Libya, I get the motives and delusions in play, but is there some sort of e-peen value to defending the honor of a corporation’s servers?

A recent favorite is a highly rated comment on a flash game that paraphrased to: “Okay, this game isn’t very good, but you should not badmouth it because the guy makes a lot of flash games and many of them are better.”

Some people troll, but you get the sense that some really see themselves as the company’s defenders. They think they are helping. Maybe they believe their own propaganda and think their games are perfectly balanced, lag- and exploit-free utopias, undermined only by an impossible to please playerbase. They at least think you should believe it. They are rude and abusive to people with (potentially legitimate) issues. Do they really think the Alpha Nerd approach works? Maybe that the problems will go away if they can drive away dissenting players? I can almost hear Sanya saying, “Stop telling my customers to go back to WoW!”

: Zubon

6 thoughts on “Apologists”

  1. It’s the same reason why the sports team you like rocks and the one someone else loves sucks: people like belonging to a group. There’s a bond formed with others who enjoy the same thing you enjoy.

    I suspect that some people are also starting to realize exactly how fragile these games can be. Lag problems? Time to circle wagons and call the complainer a heretic. Better to let others think there’s nothing wrong (and thus it’s a great time to start playing!) Admitting a fault means admitting that the game might not last forever in the face of competition. Complaining about lag in LotRO around the time of the launch of yet another theme-park type MMO causes discomfort for the true fans.

    Does the “Alpha Nerd approach” work? Every possible reaction can have some negative aspect to it. People not responding? “Nobody plays that game, and those that do play don’t care.” Reasoned discourse? “People who play that game have Stockholm Syndrome.” etc.

  2. It’s the inverse of the quitting post. A quitting crazy must do two things: justify why they were playing: things were so much better, and justify why they are no longer: everything is ruined. The staying crazy only needs to do one of those absolutes, that is, be absolutely convinced that everything is perfect.

    There is of course the other element: being a dick. People like to see who can be a bigger dick and that means jumping on anything to attack someone.

    Finally there are the fanatical bootstrapers who see all problems as a failure of the person, never the system. Class is underpowered? No, you just need to play it better.

  3. These people annoy me more than rabid haters, perhaps because I’m somewhat of an angry malcontent myself. I just can’t understand why some feel the urge to defend some faceless company like it was their doting old grandmother.

    At least I can kinda see someone being annoyed at purchasing a sub-par product or getting pooped on by customer service. But ultra-fanboyism? Man, that just ain’t right.

  4. It’s probably just a natural result of a community forming on virtual principles in a virtual place out of real people. Takes them time and trial and error to adapt their personae to the virtual reality they are investing in.

  5. Maybe they are just enjoying themselves and find it irritating when people tell them they can’t really be having fun?

    Having someone structure your reality for you can be irksome.

  6. Would you argue, then, that posts like:

    “If the people in place can not fix it, fire them and hire smarter staff.”

    are somehow better, more helpful or even less annoying than apologists?

    In fact, I’d call the entire example thread completely useless. One poster points out that there’s already an extensive thread on the lag issues, the OP pulls the “My $15/month makes me the CEO of the company, so fix this or fire the entire team and hire someone who can!” entitlement card that’s drug out every time an MMO has a hiccup, people who try to say that they’re not experiencing lag are quickly drowned out by others who accuse them of being “PR reps”…

    Honestly it just seems more like a testament to the failure of the forum paradigm as a form of community organization than anything else.

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