Genres and Fans

I need to get my wife this shirt.

I’ve been havign a discussion with Pitrelli over at Kill that Cheerleader after he created a post in response to one of Syncaine’s. The hot topic of debate that Syn is so good at stirring up, refered to WoW of course. Syn’s original premise is that 60% of players to the majority of new MMOs don’t count as possible customers. They are merely part of the WoW-tourists (trademark Syncaine) that are poking their heads out of their holes like curious little prairie dogs. Any company would be wise to keep in mind that a large percentage of your initial player base is in no way possible to retain. I happen to agree with Syn for the most part on this theory. Nothing that I have seen has yet to prove in any way, shape, or form, that WoW is anything other than a statistical anomaly. Until their level extra-ordinary (now hyphenated for clarity!) level of success is duplicated, they are an outlier on the MMO landscape.

In any matter, let me turn this cart around to the topic I’m trying to talk about.


What makes someone a fan? What are you a fan of?  What qualifies someone to be a fan?

As far as I’m concerned, people can be fans of anything they want. They can be a fan of breathing, they can be a fan of not being on fire, they can be a fan of a movie, a sports franchise, a band, a politician, or a particular hyper-intelligent shade of blue. It doesn’t matter, anyone can be a fan of any specific thing. The problem comes in when people try to expand their particular, narrow tastes to the broader range or categories that their preference falls in.

For instance, I’m a fan of the Chicago Bears. I enjoy watching them play, and rooting for them. With that knowledge, you MIGHT be able to surmise that I’m a football fan. But really, I’m not. I don’t enjoy watching other teams play that much. I like getting together with friends to watch college ball at times, but not because I feel vested in the match. Now, Football itself is a specific instance of a greater category, or genre if you will. Football is a contact, competitive sport. Me saying that because I’m a Bears fan, I must be a fan of contact sports would be a stretch beyond anyone’s belief. Someone might be able to suggest that because I enjoy one small aspect of a sub-genre, I might enjoy another, but no one would ever go so far to say that because I enjoy one sports team, of one particular sport, that I am a sports fan in general. To be classified as a sports fan in general, I would need to enjoy multiple sports, across multiple sub-genres of sports. For instance, if was a fan of Baseball, Tennis, and Football, then you might be able to ascribe that I was a sports fan.

Now lets apply this understanding to MMOs. By the same token that my being a fan of one sports team, for one specific sport doesn’t make me a fan, someone having played WoW for years, and enjoyed that game, doesn’t make the person a PvE Themepark MMO fan, much less an MMO fan, and exponentially less, a video game fan. The immediate rebuttal is often along the lines of, “WoW players just haven’t found anything as good to play.” To which I call bullshit. If (as usual) the Bears are having an abysmal season, and watching them is just too painful, I may look to put something else into that time slot that I used for watching football. Maybe I’ll try hockey at first, and then move on to Rugby, and then on to other sports if that doesn’t suit me. However, if after trying out multiple different sports, none of them retain me (but I still say they were okay…), it’s not because the sports were bad, or boring, it’s because I’M NOT A FAN OF THOSE SPORTS.

Being a fan isn’t determined by some preset amount of time, or some written examination you have to pass, or some level of froth you have to produce when speaking of a genre. No, being a fan is determined by your actions. If you have never stuck with any game long enough to experience it fully, and give it a good shot, then you’re not a fan of that game. If you’ve never done this with any game outside of WoW, chances are, you’re not an MMO fan either, you’re a WoW fan.

And that’s okay, but don’t get your panties in a twist when people realize this as well, and accept that fact, if you haven’t.


About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

37 Responses to Genres and Fans

  1. theerivs says:

    WAIT your a Chicago Bears fan…and I thought I couldn’t love you any more. LOL!.

    Though this year is painful.

    • shadowwar says:

      I know, they always seem to break my heart. I was born in Wisconsin, but the majority of my family is from Chicago-land. Sox fan too (though, if you’re a Cubs fan, we may end up eternal enemies never allowed to compete).

  2. Slurms says:

    “Being a fan isn’t determined by some preset amount of time”

    “If you have never stuck with any game long enough to experience it fully, and give it a good shot, then you’re not a fan of that game.”

    I know you’re trying to mean different things here, but to my soft, human brain, they almost seem to contradict. Care to expand?

    • Slurms says:

      Actually, I think I get what you’re saying, but that second line is tricky. How long is long enough of an experience to say you are a fan? While I will agree that there is no predetermined amount, I think it’s to the individual to say whether they have become a fan. Just like you say you’re a fan of the Bears, at what point could you really consider yourself to be one? Whay are you one? Do these questions need answers?

      If you say that anyone can be a fan of anything, at what point can they make that exclaimation?(I am myself a fan of the color Blue, I have no personal involvement with the color, just a general liking)

      • shadowwar says:

        The whole point I was shooting for was the misapplication of people applying fan status to a singular aspect of a genre, and extrapolating it out to the entirety of the set.

        So, you’re a fan of blue. Do you like ALL blues? Yes? Great then you’re a fan of the hue. Do you like all colors? And so on.

        People seem to have a hard time accepting that their personal taste doesn’t fit into every niche. It’s almost like everyone wants to be a part of everything, when that is not only unnecessary, but also unwanted.

        It’s OKAY to only like WoW. There’s nothing wrong with that. If a player thinks they like the MMO genre, and want to keep testing out new ones to see if they’ll like one, that’s fine too. However, until they do, they can’t really call themselves an MMO gamer, and they shouldn’t be surprised that the large population of people similar to them are not catered to by OTHER games. They also shouldn’t be shocked when people who are fans don’t include them at times.

        It would be just as odd as if me, as a Bears fan, showed up to forum about Nascaar, and insisted that my love of one team equates to an understanding of their sport of choice.

    • shadowwar says:

      “preset amount of time” As in, you MUST play for X hours, across Y weeks, and Z months.

      “long enough to experience it fully” As in, have you played the game enough to really understand what it’s doing. Did you get to experience a robust and full play experience in the area that is the games main focus.

      To be blunt, there is no quantitative amount of time that cna be used to deterime being a fan of something, merely a qualitative measurement in regards to a sincere real experience with a game.

      • Slurms says:

        I have played some MMO’s that were able to be summed up after 10 mminutes of play. But maybe that’s were the line gets drawn. A potentially good MMO will take longer play time to really experience the good and the bad. =D

        One more loaded question:

        “What kind of music are you a fan of?”

        When you answer that question, do you specify groups or do you use a genre? You may like a certain number of artists in a genre, but paint your answer with a broad brush. I, for instance, usually have to answer with “I listen to almost everything except country” Because I do listen to artists in every genre of music, but within each, there are ones I love and ones I hate.

        When someone asks a WoW player, who has also tried other MMO’s the question, “what kind of games are you a fan of?” they will probably say “MMO’s”. Would that be wrong?

      • shadowwar says:

        Music is an analogy I was using in my discussion with Pitrelli actually. It was one I’d heard Syncaine use before and it made sense.

        I like Metallica.

        LOTS of people like Metallica. That, however, does NOT make lots of people metal fans. In fact, I know many people who listen to Metallica, went out to find more metal bands thinking they’d like the music, and found out they hated it. These people aren’t metal fans, they’re Metallica fans.

        As for myself, I like a variety of stuff. I’m particularly a fan of electronic music, usually Trance and Progressive, and a little Drumb and Bass. Ambient is usually a good listen also. I usually hate House, but I’ve heard a DJ or two whom does it well. Maybe it’s because of my particular preferred genre, but the classifications of the various styles in electronic music are very different and usually requires an explanation, so I got used to giving it.

  3. Slurms says:

    Okay, I read over all these posts now and I realize I was going the wrong direction. I was washed over with this feeling of….who cares?

    Who are these nerdlingers who are upset that they are not being included in the reindeer games?

    Seriously, is there a secret decoder ring to be had if I’m a member of the MMO fan club? Is there a tree house? Do we need to keep the giiirls out?

    They’re freekin games! I’m happy if you’re happy in your game of choice, and if you want to write about what you like or dont like in that game, or the negative experience you had in another game (even if it’s because you’ve become bound to the prior game because it’s your comfort zone) I’m happy to read it. I may disagree because I didnt have the same experience, but as far as I’m concerned, we’re all in the same club.

    • shadowwar says:

      That fringes around the edge of my point. Like whatever you like, enjoy whatever you enjoy, I don’t care.

      The problem is that there is an overly large amount of people who will hop onto any new shiny, and then go directly back to WoW. It throws off market speculation, hampers game launches, and leads to a distorted perspective of the actual MMO market.

      • Slurms says:

        So am I not allowed access in fandom of a genre because one of its games looked awesome but ended up being not what I wanted(or I was misguided by its creators)?

      • shadowwar says:

        The error in this logic is that you’re trying to apply it to one particular interest, in lieu of an overall behaviour pattern. Everyone tries a game and dislikes it. But eventually, if you’re a real fan, you’ll find multiple games you like, and you will play them.

        Back to the sports analogy (MMO equivelent in paranthesis).

        The Bears have a crappy season, and I went out looking for something else to watch (WoW is letting me down), and my first try of Hockey (WAR) didn’t work out. However, I decided to give Rugby (LotRO) a swing, and turns out it really revs my engines. I start to watch it regularly (play the MMO-game), and follow the sport (keep up on the game), eventually picking a favorite team (deciding on a class/spec/what-have-you). Next season, when the Bears have restructured you start watching them again, but maybe you still keep tabs on your rugby team, and DVR some matches (Cataclysm launches, and I re-up my WoW sub, but after a short while I go and play for a month or so of LotRO, and I keep reading the forums the entire time).

        Congratulations, you’re a MMO fan.

        The non-fan does the following: Bears start to suck (WoW is dull). I try other sports, but none of the teams are the Bears (all these other games aren’t WoW)! I start to watch the Bears again, angry, sad, and depresed, but at least I’m comfortable (back to WoW, sweet, sweet familiarity).

  4. Slurms says:

    Why do we always get on sports analogies that don’t work for both of us? =P

    Are you trying to say that to be a fan of the genre means you should have more devotion to the genre as a whole rather than a single title? And in doing so you must experience a variety of titles?

    If so, I “get” that. But I don’t agree with it. You can be a big fan of sex but only have it with one person. Again, probably an analogy that will go nowhere hehe.

    • shadowwar says:

      That’s exactly what I’m saying. If you’re a fan of only one title, then you’re not a fan of the genre, you’re a fan of the title.

      Just like a Metallica fan isn’t a Metal fan.

      • Slurms says:

        And I’m saying that it’s such a gray area to not call someone a fan of the genre if they have tried other titles. If they only played one title, sure, maybe not a fan of the genre as a whole. But if they actually tried others and just really didn’t end up connecting,…then I’d still consider them fans.

        Pistols at dawn!

      • shadowwar says:

        Doesn’t seem grey at all to me. If you like only one instance of a genre, no matter what it is, but you don’t like others, you’re not a fan. I think it’s even more-so true if you HAVE tried others and don’t like them.

      • Slurms says:

        So lets say I drank Guiness for a long time, decided that it was time for a change, so went and drank three or four other beers. I liked some of them, but nothing was quite as good as Guiness to me, so I went back to the dark stuff. Sure, I would try others as they came to my attention, but when at a bar, I fell back to the Guiness (unless someone else was paying for a diferent drink (beta)).

        Am I not a fan of beer?

      • Mr. Meh says:

        Correct Slurms, you are then not a fan of beer. You are a fan of Guiness. Which is nothing short of a 4 course meal in one glass.

        I’ve played multiple MMOs, but I am not a MMO fan. As really only a few of the successful big ones can hold my attention, and most fall short at that. I cannot play a bad game just because it has a good community. I also don’t go and play something, just cuz its in a genre.

        I see where you are going though;

        Guiness is beer. I like Guiness. Therefore I must like beer.

        You use ‘is’ as an ‘=’.

        Guiness is actually a type of beer. Actually a type of stout, which that is a type of beer. Therefore you at best might/maybe like Stouts in general. Maybe.

      • shadowwar says:

        You said yourself, you liked them. However, if you would choose to NEVER drink the others again, then I would say, yes, you only like Guiness. You don’t like beer, you like a stout. One particular stout at that. If it were me, I would suggest branching out from there, trying other similar stouts (WoW fanboy, try out LotRO, it’s a PvE wonderland).

      • shadowwar says:

        Apparently, Meh and I decided to write almost identical replies at the exact same time.

      • Slurms says:

        Okay, and again, I see your point. But when someone asks, hey are you a fan of beer…im gonna say yes, even though I PREFER one specific type.

        (btw, I hate Guiness, because it tastes like dirt, I was merely using it for example)

        That’s why I think this is a dumb argument to make against people who claim to be a fan of something for merely having a preference.

        The terminology is the grey area I’m talking about.

      • Slurms says:

        Like: are you a fan of the Bears, or are you a FAN of the Bears?

        Know what I mean?

      • pitrelli says:

        Hmph I would never recommenr LoTRO to anyone to be honest but fair enough, I think its better to vary your MMO diet instead of doing the same old, same old . Try a little WAR or Darkfall for Desert (PvP), WoW for dinner (polished PvE) and a little Fallen Earth for Desert (crafting + awesome setting and nothin quite like it out there).

      • pitrelli says:

        *WAR or Darkfall for Starters*

        Doh !

      • Mr. Meh says:

        Alright alright.

        Since we just inventing analogies.

        You like viginas?
        Well, Hermaphodites have viginas.
        So you like Hermaphodites.

        You still a fan of the genre now?

      • Slurms says:

        I prefer them when they’re not next to weiners. =D

    • Rer says:

      Gah, cut it out you too ;P.

      Its clearly a difference in ideology rather than principle.

    • shadowwar says:

      The problem is that, when you only like one instance of anything out of a set, that’s not a preference. A preference is the act of prefering, which means likeing something better, a relative term of quality. Having a preference means that you like the others as well, just not as much.

      Which, as I said before, makes you a fan, if you actually like other games. However, that’s not the case that is being made here at all. The premise is that this 60% of people DON’T like any other games. It’s not a matter of preference, it’s an all or nothing deal.

      I prefer Yuengling as my beer of choice. However, I still enjoy other beers and drink them frequently. Guiness is great for a stout. Blue Moon is a great Belgian-white. I hate Bud-light and Budweiser, but Budweiser’s American Ale is surprisingly good, and it’s what I’ve bought the last two times I’ve picked up a twelve pack.

      The comparison here, would be that if I was part of the theorized WoW-tourist population, I would drink Yuengling. Everytime a new beer came out, I’d give it a try, and after a 6-pack decide I don’t like it. Go back to my Yuengling and be happy. I would do that with every single beer out there.

      That’s who Syncaine is theoryizing these people are. Not people who prefer WoW, but people who will never, ever, in any life, enjoy a game other than WoW. They may not realize it, they may not even want to accept it, but they are out there.

      So far, we have yet to see this disproven.

      • Slurms says:

        This is much like the discussion I had on Overly Positive about music games. I see them as a potential gateway for people to have a greater appreciation of music. Just like, love it or hate it, WoW has the same potential to make people into fans of the genre.

      • shadowwar says:

        The potential is there, and it has panned out in some cases. I’ve talked to many people who’s first MMO was WoW and are now playing other MMOs and loving them. However, the premise isn’t on isolated instances, it’s about the the general trend of the subscriber base.

        I’m happy for every player that WoW has turned into an MMO fan. I just think that a large percentage of players who are at WoW, will never find another MMO they like. I’ll probably find a Metal band I like outside of Metallica, and I’m okay with that. Especially, once I accepted that and stopped wasting money on CDs!

  5. Rer says:

    Ugh… I shouldn’t have started reading all of these after being sleep deprived for 24 hours….

    I need a drink (non-alcoholic of course >_>;)

  6. pitrelli says:

    Still dont agree with ya 😉

  7. shadowwar says:

    Really wishing that comments could have more than two sets of responses right now. Faulty comment design in this template. May be time to find a new template. Or break out the scratch for the advanced membership…

    • Slurms says:

      I dunno, once you get into like 4 or 5 columns of responses it can get real messy to read.

      I just need to be more persuasive in my commenting (gud wif werds) and this wouldn’t take so long lol.

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