Psi-Ops is an opinion-based editorial that is founded on psychological research, literature, and personal knowledge. The opinions expressed are my own.
Psychology has a wealth of knowledge which supports the idea that identification with particular social groups helps us, as humans, develop and nurture social networks which provide support, growth and camaraderie. Whether in reference to peer groups, our favorite sports team, work groups, employment hierarchy or religious organizations, there is extensive support for the importance of how we attach to these groups. They help form our identity and we support them even when we become aware of their shortcomings, leading to us vehemently defending their existence to anyone and everyone – particularly any rival (or potential rival).
It can also often lead to attacking or challenging groups which oppose our own, whether we’re challenging the belief or another religion or competing over the competence of employees within a particular corporation, it might even include personal attacks towards fans of other teams (looking at you Dodgers/Giants fans). We all have rivals, and sometimes we go so far.
Your console is just another team.
Sports in particular has fostered what is known as Team Identification, a body of literature that seeks to understand how, why, when and where we form bonds with teams and the influence this has on individuals. Sports teams have always had rivals, whether it’s by distance or draw and sports fanatics will defend their team even when they have faltered and failed. Your team helps form your identity to the extent that our “favorite color” shifts depending on jersey, and we establish our values based on the prowess of the superstar player. Our characteristics can even change depending on an organization impacting the way we act, think or feel about a multitude of subjects.
If you had any doubts about team identification just look to the Los Angeles Clippers during the Lakers empire, or the Dallas Cowboys (or Washington Redskins) over the past few years, or the Phoenix Coyotes, or any futbol team in the English Premiere League that has been relegated to a lower division.
Even at the lowest point in a team’s franchise history …
Their fans remain.
Their fans identify.
Their fans … are part of the team’s identity as much as the team creates a part of the fans own.
So when it comes to video games you are likely leaning towards one of the four major players. There is PC gaming (Yes, you call yourselves the master race, we all know), Nintendo fans (You don’t care about graphics, it’s about the ‘feels’ of nostalgia of Mario), Sony legionnaires (BEST. GRAPHICS. EVER.), or Microsoft warriors (“IT DOES EVERYTHING.”).
Within the hierarchy of gaming fanatics there are also those who fall within the gray area without a particular affinity or affection for any of the consoles in particular. They might use more than one, or just pick the one their friends picked up. Maybe it’s just a matter of access.
There is enough of a blend to make you question, what is the point? Why do we yell at each other to stake claim to the “best” system.
It’s simple: We want to win. We want to be “right.” We want to justify our $350-$2500 purchase.
It doesn’t actually matter what system is better, nor does it matter which one sells the most. We identify with one in particular and tend to lean towards it, and masked in the veil of anonymity, the internet lets us tell everyone else they are wrong.
At the end of the day, you chose a team to support and you’re beginning to identify with it. If the system is incompetent then you’ll feel incompetent. If the system wins, then you feel as if you’ve won. If the system loses you’ll feel as if your team lost.
Your system is your team, and no one cares about bandwagons. It’s just about the win.