Feb 142013

What is it about some RPG fans that makes them want to be so elitist? We saw this big-time with Final Fantasy 7 – anyone who dared to like FF7 (the first game in the series to receive massive popularity in the US) was looked down upon by some for being less of a fan than those “true” fans who “knew” Final Fantasy VI was the best thing ever (or FF5 or FF4 or FF1, etc.). I’ve even seen this with the Shin Megami Tensei series – Persona fans are looked down upon by some Nocturne fans for liking the popular spin-off instead of the “true” SMT.

Just what is the point of this whole “Better than you” attitude? RPGs tend to be either extremely popular (World of Warcraft, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, etc.) or really niche (basically anything from Atlus, XSeed Games, NIS America, indie devs, etc.). Even the “popular” Persona series isn’t guaranteed to sell over 100,000 copies per installment in the US. Rather than trying to put down other fans for not being as hardcore as you are, instead be happy that there are others who share your interests.

Although I do wonder if we’ll ever reach a point in the distant future where we’ll have people arguing over how you’re not a true Zeboyd Games fan if you liked Breath of Death I: The Sequel (Man, they really sold out to the mainstream then!).

 Posted by at 3:04 pm

  15 Responses to “Elitism among RPG fans”

  1. Any chance of Breath of Death coming to android? 😀

    Side note I think everyone is a little guilty of elitism from time time regardless of game genre
    I’ve been the worst with gears 1i think mainly because I hated the change in MP
    Some would say it improved idk I preferred the more hardcore and less
    Approachable MP vs mass friendly.
    Rpgs I’ve never been too bad with exception of FF10 and only
    When it’s omg ff10 is the best RPG evar!
    Yet same person never touched the earlier entries in the series
    Or other old school rpgs.

  2. My problem is this. I liked games like the original FF’s, the pixel type star oceans and Tales of games, Lufia’s, Paladin Quest’s, Inindo’s, and so on. You don’t see those kinds of games anymore unless an indie developer comes around. The reason being is money, money, and more money. My favorite games were forced to mostly disappear so companies could try to make more money instead of just being happy with me and the rest of the fans like me.

    That is what it always comes down to. My games have to go the way of the dinosaurs so mainstream games can be sold so the companies can make more money. I, who made those company’s who they were, they decided to dump on me so they could bring in more people that didn’t care about them before they chose to alienate their old school fans because of numbers.

    So why am I a bit elitist about my games? I am because I know that anything I like isn’t mainstream. When I see people who like the mainstream titles, I know they are part of the problem of why I can’t have the kinds of games I like anymore. They are basically a sore point.

    Erdrick basically sums up all my problems in a nutshell. I am a Nocturne junky. I am a pixel rpg junkie. I like modern rpg’s, but most of them are shells of what they used to be. For every Lost Odyssey there are multiple Star Ocean 4’s….. I wasn’t impressed with Star Ocean 4.

    As for Final Fantasy VII, I like it a lot. I played through it 3 times, beat the Weapons the way they were supposed to be, solo on ruby, and I didn’t know there was an underwater materia for emerald when I beat it. I did everything I could in that game. But, I don’t compare it to FF 4, 5, or 6 because they just aren’t comparable as they are totally different types of games. I am not a huge fan of 8, 9, bit iffy on 10, never played 11, really enjoyed 12, and felt 13 was a travesty to rpg’s in general.

    Why do people act elitist around people who don’t like what they do? Easy, they know those people as threats to the games they do like. It isn’t elitism, it is a defensive reflex. I bought every Final Fantasy since part 1 that was released in the US, prior to 11. I, and many others, built Square Enix up by buying all their rpg’s they released over the decades. Then they basically wrote me, and so many others, off so they could bring in more people, so I no longer feel any sense of loyalty to them. The newer rpg gamers made this come to pass by letting Square Enix throw away their old fans.

    They day you all add extended gameplay and more systems to make leveling up more fun, I will likely say you guys are the best company. for me, in the last Decade. The only other company I would say that about is Namco Bandaii and their Tales of games. Tales of games may not break new ground story wise, but it always delivers on all other fronts and gives fans of the old pixel Tales of games what they want, in a 3-d world.

  3. This elitism applies to anything. People who have a genuine interest in an area tend to seek it out and explore all it has to offer. When something in that area hits a magical combination of factors to end up with mass appeal, then a lot of people who had no previous interest will try it out because they keep hearing about it. They may or may not go on to explore other offerings in the area, but they aren’t the “true fans”. The true fans were there before and will be there afterward.

    Even worse, the johnny-come-lately fans (who probably outnumber the ‘true’ fans) will all start discussing how novel and original this popular thing is. It’s the first tme they’ve seen anything like it. True fans know about many other things that came before that they (with their refined tastes and appreciation for the area) believe are better. Online forums where true fans used to hang out to discuss things are now filled with noob topics.

    It’s hard to see the benefits of these newcomers when they’re so annoying. Sure, some of them might become true fans later. The rest will eventually leave. Until then, they are a bunch of fans-for-a-day with primitive tastes and poor understandings of the topics the true fans care about. They can’t contribute and they have lots of questions.

    Do you like an occasional glass of wine and you use a supermarket magazine to pick one? You’re obviously a wine noob and the wine snobs will look down on you.

    Did you buy an american flag/flag pin after september 11? A true patriot would have had one before that.

    There’s a different kind of debate between two people who are fans of an area enough to actively explore it. Some people are competitive enough to want you to know they are better than you because they have been a fan for longer and have more refined tastes.

  4. You’re not a true Zeboyd fan if you like any game more than Epiphany in Spaaace!

  5. It’s a bit complex to deal with elitism between fans, but it’s something that’s derived from the geek’s inner debating nature, combined with the very nature of counter-hipsterism (is that a term?) and magnified by other things.

    Curious? Well…

    Let’s start with the basics. All geeks, regardless of preference, have an innate inclination towards philosophical debate of what, for others, would seem like nonsense. To put it in simpler terms: when you see “who’s best, Superman or Captain America”, a normal, non-fan person would see it as absurd, but to a comic book fan, it is a worthy theme of discussion. Next time sports fans feel puzzled like that, and specifically if they’re basketball fans, drop them the following question: “during the ’90’s, who was the best team: the Bulls, the Celtics or the Lakers?”, and see how the sports fan will geek out in your presence. Somewhere in the comversation, IF they devolve into that, tell them “well, you’re doing exactly what I do with comic books/games/etc.” That is an intrinsic quality of the geek, IMO.

    However, that desire for discussion leads, undoubtedly, to take sides. Much like sports fans, whenever there’s a degree of interaction within fandoms (i.e. two people that are video game fans), you’ll probably notice that they’ll either agree wholeheartedly, agree somewhat, debate respectfully, disagree somewhat, or disagree vehemently. Some discussions are instant, grade-A bombs, and here’s where the “problem” (if it can be called one) lies; some people will take a stand to such an extent, that they’ll bash their opponent if necessary, and often bring a state of anger and distress. If that wasn’t part of human nature, there wouldn’t be any wars, but as you can see by the many (and devastating, if I may add) wars, that’s part of human nature, and geeks correlate that to a purely philosophical/debate battlefield.

    The FF old-skool/newbie debate is the example given, but it’s far more complex than that, because Final Fantasy has trascended various console generations. To perceive the divide between the NES/SNES generation and the Playstation/2/3 generations is foolish, as even within the Playstation generation there is a divide (namely, those who started with 7 and those who started with 10).

    Polite debate about the matter does exist. It’s in the best interest when you have to gather several resources and write a dissertation about why Kefka is better than Sephiroth (and viceversa), and the specific reasons why, because in the end, you’re making a mental exercise about the matter. However, sometimes, a fan can’t seem to see beyond a good argument and plausibly ignores it, thus leading into a flame war.

    On the matter of which game is better, I learned a long time ago to take a different stand: I consider FFVII a good game, but not the awesome game that others claim because it’s not entirely memorable in my case. On the other hand, I could easily consider FFVI one of the greatest games ever, but I would have to then ignore that it hasn’t aged very well, that I’ve outgrown some of the concepts of it (particularly the character-building, which I find a tad inferior), and that I can’t simply place it as the best game because, if I fail to explain it, then I end up looking silly out of a bit of well-deserved nostalgia. Don’t take me wrong: if I were to place FF games in order from top to bottom, I’d specify that I’d refuse to grade FFVI on the grounds of complete bias (in part because my platonic love interest is in that game, so I feel it’d be a complete disservice to her), so anything I’d say would probably muddle my appreciation of the other games.

    In particular, one topic I’m quite divisive around is who is the better FF villain, specifically if there’s a comparison between Kefka and Sephiroth. I’ve taken the stand for Kefka, but specifically because I’ve grown to LOATHE Sephiroth for every single reason. I’ve found him a canon Sue for many reasons, particularly because the main defense I’ve heard is that he cannot die, thus his victory is only certain and no other villain has done this thus he’s the greatest villain around. I find that a poor statement at best. However, I’ve found surprisingly good defenses hinting at an insight towards his personality that, beyond my personal bias, legitimizes him as a villain. On the other hand, I’ve seen many people decry Zeromus and Ultimecia for many reasons, when I’ve reached the conclusion that, up until FFVII, Ultimecia was simply the ultimate villain in the series because it was a collage of all the other villains in the series, capping with Kefka for actually succeeding on her task and with Sephy and Garland/Chaos for having done a time loop that will forever legitimize their actions. You rarely see that point brought, however, because most people consider FFVIII the worst game in the series. IMO, I find FFIX extremely lacking, and I can’t stomach the idea of FFXIII.

    Now, does this mean that I, and many other people like me, chastise fans for not being purists? I would say “to an extent”, if only because of the “insufferable genius” trait. That is a key aspect of geek elitism, particularly because of how geekdom has evolved. By having more people enjoy comic books, fantasy, video games and other hobbies, those who grew with this get confronted with the idea that they’re invading their terrain and that they’ll tarnish it. Now, this isn’t necessarily the case with everyone, but it’s probably the best allegory you can find. Being a geek, a nerd, was within the social caste system (if one has ever existed), the equivalent of the pariah: meant to be ostracized, and geekdom embraced this by making these elements their own. With geekdom becoming mainstream, that irrational fear becomes a “stalwart defense” of the purity of geekdom, which cannot forgive any insult, perceived or otherwise. Though, to be certain, I believe that there’s no actual geek purists per se, but perhaps the inability to understand that new fans are still grasping the concept of their fandom and that they must be allowed their opinion, even if it’s against your own interests, for the good of the fandom as a whole. If we perceive new fans as being immature (in a good way, that is) and we, established fans, understand this and tone down our desire for debate into a civilized one, then you’ll probably see these fans mature and improve the fandom as a whole, as their ideas may solidify or change. This is important, because (as I mentioned) those same fans will probably provide interesting defenses to their fandom which may lead you to think and perhaps admire a game, a series of movies or TV shows, or a comic book, in a different way.

    In short: there’s no geek purists, but simply fans that are quite vocal about what they like, and always on “fiery debate” mode which can be intimidating. Tone down the discussion, and you’ll probably see positive things.

  6. How is this any different from other genres. You get elitism in FPS between COD/Halo/Battlefield players I hear, in MMOs, and pretty much every genre. People want to defend what they like. Its just like the Playstation vs Xbox and SNES vs Genesis fanboys. And another important aspect is the desire for people to say “I was there before it was popular” and that everyone who found it after that are just noobs and not true fans of the series.

    And I have to admit, I tend to look down on anyone whose first jRPG/FF game was FF7, or never touched The Elder Scrolls before Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim. Part of it is because I’ve been a fan from the beginning and therefore they are noobs, and part of it is that I feel that the increase in popularity in games comes with a corresponding dumbing down of the series and fanbase. In reality, in some ways I’m both right and wrong about that assertion. The unfortunate thing is that I feel that as series get more popular, the companies start a trend toward trying to appeal to the wider audience, and the ‘lowest common denominator’. By trying to appeal to more people, it tends to make me more defensive of my long time love for the series, and make me dislike the “noobs” even more for “ruining” my games. I realize it is irrational in some ways. Although I refuse to change my opinion about people who like FF7, they have pretty poor taste in games and only like it cause it was their first.

  7. I can’t speak for others, but personally a great deal of it isn’t so much “elitism” as much as desire to make sure recognition is given to the true classics and trailblazers that paved the way for the things most gamers today take for granted.

    Besides, in the case of Persona, those of us who played it back in the PlayStation days are just irritated that a series that used to deal with deep psychological insights on the nature of being and reality has instead devolved to exploiting standard twee anime tropes to cater to weeaboo fans. 🙁

    Me personally, I’m just waiting for SMTIV. Ain’t nuthin’ like a real MegaTen entry.

  8. Being a fan of older games doesn’t mean you have to be elitist about it. You can enjoy 8-bit and 16-bit RPGs without arguing with people who prefer more modern RPGs.

    I’m one of the ones who thinks that FF7 was a slight step back from the quality of FF6. Although I have to admit, I’ve never heard anyone complain that FF7 was too short (although I have heard some people complain that it’s too long). For most people, Final Fantasy VII is a longer game than any of the 16-bit FF games.

  9. The whole ‘FFVII’ went unnoticed by me until 2000 or so, when I started working in a used game store.

  10. You see this behavior among the participants of any effort-based proposition. The first time I heard this story, it went something along the lines of “Back in my day, we walked uphill in the snow both ways to play Pong and we liked it!”

    Players of FF7 who truly enjoyed it and are vociferous in their fandom tend to be the same players who put in more than 100 hours into the game. Their very real effort empowers them, and the ‘trivialization’ that can almost be expected in any sequel (due to business operations of game companies) takes away the emotional value of their time spent. It’s a scant few steps of (il)logic to be elitist and/or demeaning to fans less invested in the experience.

  11. Well, I know that, in the case of FF VII at least, a lot of people who played previous entries in the series were surprised at the sudden DECREASE in quality from previous games in the series. FF VII was horrendously short, underdeveloped, had unappealing cubist graphics (which even at the time were sub par), and had a confusing storyline that was impossible to follow (maybe that was just the localization, but it was still a major problem). So when people who had never played a FF game suddenly proclaim that VII is the best game ever, the reaction of people who had been with the series since the beginning was only natural.

    “You think that’s good? I’ll show you good. Play FF VI.”

    “No, I don’t want to play a five year old game.”

    “Just give it a chance.”

    “No, newer is always better.”

    The “elitist” mindset of the classic players was actually a reactionary movement against the superiority complex of people who think that only new games have value. When I meet people who obsess over playing the newest cutscene-stuffed motion-picture-wannabe graphics fest, I can’t help but want to expand these people’s horizons. A lot of them won’t even play games from the previous year, even games they have already played, because they are just such SNOBS.

    So when I show people the 16-bit game stylings of, oh, let’s say, Zeboyd Games, and they scream at me, saying “How can you play this crap? It doesn’t even have 3D graphics. I thought trash like this went extinct in the 90s,” should I just nod and keep my mouth shut, not wanting to seem “elitist”? Or should I say “No, you are wrong. These games are some of the best on the market today, and by shunning them without giving them a chance, you are acting like a sheep.”

    You may love them or you may hate them, but you have to admit this: if the players who love the classics—those you have called “elitist”—weren’t so high and mighty about the value of classic games over new ones, you would be out a job. They are the ones who made Breath of Death, Cthulhu Saves the World, and even the new Rain Slick games a viable product to sell. Because all the monkeys out there who are chasing after the shiniest graphics and the 125-minute cutscenes would not give you a DIME for your games. They wouldn’t even pirate your games.

    I apologize for the lengthy post, but I am passionate about this subject.

  12. No, we’re not making another Breath of Death game at the moment. But in the future, who knows? 🙂

  13. Terranigma eats up all of it

  14. Regarding FF7, most of it was bitter resentment at the popularity of it because, even at the time, it was extremely obvious that this was the crux of massive change for the series. The things that were popular about FF7 were not the SAME things that were popular about FF6 and prior; it was really a conversion from a niche genre to a (at the time) mainstream gaming genre, and it lost a lot of something and gained a lot of something else. It directly lead to essentially the death of the series as a “traditional” RPG series, and that was distressing. People were resentful because if it had just been successful, instead of wildly successful, then things might not have turned so far in that direction.

  15. Wait, you’re making another Breath of Death game? 😀

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