Brother vs. Brother

image By: John

Playing: Hearthstone     Watching: Game of Thrones

 I recently decided to visit a place I hadn’t been in years. A place that I used to frequent quite often but in recent years had lost interest in. That place is the dreaded video game message board. A wretched hive of scum and villiany, video game message boards are home to all manner of sexist, racist, vile behavior. Hidden among all of that bile though you are sometimes able to engage in a civilized conversation so I decided to dive in again and see what the community was talking about. I was quickly educated on how much of an idiot I am (and apparently homosexual) for owning and enjoying my Xbox One.  It became apparent very quickly that on the message boards if you own a different video game system from someone else, you are then their sworn enemy. The feud between Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo owners makes the Starks and Lannisters look like BFFs. After reading through endless posts of people attacking each other for their choice of entertainment I felt something odd besides the expected pity. I felt something familiar….

 It was the fall of 1995 and video games were entering an exciting new era. The SEGA Saturn and Sony Playstation had been released and console gamers were discovering a world of 3D gaming that was truly amazing. Virtua Fighter, Ridge Racer, Wipeout and others were games unlike anything we had played before. But in our home we were loyal to just one company, Nintendo. And word was getting around of an amazing new piece of hardware on the horizon. A machine that would rule them all. The Nintendo Ultra 64. And when my brother and I got our hands on the October ’95 issue of Gamefan magazine we saw what would be the holy grail of video games for Nintendo’s mighty new system.

Final Fantasy VII.


 Squaresoft were royalty to us. Final Fantasy II & III along with Chrono Trigger & Super Mario RPG were some of our favorite games of all time and this glimpse of their next masterpiece had us staring at the images in that magazine for hours. The world of Final Fantasy was being brought to glorious 3D life on what was being promised to be the most powerful system ever. This would be perhaps the greatest game of all time and would prove that the Ultra 64 would be the system to beat. Close the book, shut the door, Nintendo has won the console wars. We couldn’t possibly have been more excited, until….

In January 1996 Square announces their plans to release Final Fantasy VII for the Sony Playstation. We were beyond stunned. We felt betrayed. Sony had conspired to steal Square away from Nintendo and it was criminal. How could Square turn against the fan base that had been so loyal to them for years on Nintendo platforms? Later it would become known that the game Square had envisioned just wasn’t possible on the cartridge based (now called) Nintendo 64, but at the time all we knew is that we would never get to play the latest instalment in one of our favorite game series ever. It was the worst kind of betrayal imaginable. Or so I thought.


Little did I know that soon my brother, my own flesh and blood, would do something so heinous and unthinkable that it would drive a polygonal wedge between us for years. He was going to buy a Playstation! Any gamer who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s knows that the video game system you played wasn’t just a choice of entertainment, it was a part of who you were. You were either an NES kid or a Master System kid, a Super Nintendo kid or a Genesis kid. And for the first time ever we were going to be on opposite sides. How could he do that? How stupid could he be? Why would he buy such a worthless piece of crap system?! For years we would argue over every detail of Nintendo 64 vs. Playstation. What was better, CD-ROM or cartridges? Which had the better controller? Which games were better? We would still play each others systems because deep down we probably knew that both systems were great, but we’d still come to blows when trying to prove which system was truly the greatest.

As adults now we recognize how ridiculous we were back then, fighting over who’s system was #1 instead of just enjoying all of the awesome games. We can appreciate the advantages of a system we don’t own or the exclusive games they might have. But back then we fell victim to the same kind of behavior that we now look at and shake our heads in judgement. I’m not certain what it is that brings out such heated arguments among gamers. You certainly don’t see this kind of behavior when people debate who is their favorite novelist. You don’t trade insults when you say you prefer Samsung televisions over Vizio. Gamers definitely have a uniquely passionate connection to their favorite games and game developers and that can be a good thing also. How else can you explain two middle aged men who write a weekly blog about a hobby they’ve enjoyed for 3 decades. In the end I think I probably did learn something from revisiting those message boards.



4 thoughts on “Brother vs. Brother

  1. I wonder if it is a different level of passion or merely a different culture of expression of that passion… or some combination of both. I feel like the picture you paint of the online gaming community is a bit of a straw man, though I have always been one to avoid it anyways and wouldn’t be surprised if it was as bad as you make it seem. I have a hyperbolized stereotypical image of novelist enthusiasts as being more highfalutin and exclusive about those who understand the genius of novelist XYZs works, which isn’t necessarily optimal (or correct), but it also isn’t that warring culture you see amongst gamers.

    I feel like a lot of things probably go into creating that gaming culture. Gaming kind of grew up with the internet which presents the wonder of anonymity as well as a platform where there is communication overload and the loudest most audacious communications are what are heard. This couples with the fact that there are really only 3-4 platforms of consoles, and they are expensive enough that people can’t just buy all they want, and poof… gaming wars, and a culture of angry comments for no reason.

    Anyways, I liked the piece 🙂 Luckily, Dust and I were never pitted in a fierce battle to the death over consoles… maybe over who got to use which character is some games though.


  2. Yeah, internet anonymity is a real double edged sword. I don’t think the online community is all bad, but I’ve seen examples of behavior and threats that would make a phsycologists ears perk up. There are lots of great people out there and hopefully their voices will become more prominent. My experience with the Extra-Life campaign has shown what good can be done when gamers come together in a positive way. Thanks alot for the feedback!

    1. Yeah, I definitely think we are seeing a lot more good come out of the gaming community and I hope that continues to grow. I wonder if it is a split community or a two faced community. As in, is it in some part the same people who callously fling virulent insults and then turn around and give back through the community? And if so, what is the thought process behind that? Is being spiteful and viscous enough of the norm that people just do it to fit in? Or on the other hand is a completely split community withe a venomous, loud minority, and a quieter majority that support Extra-Life and other campaigns as mediums for good that jive with their hobby of gaming.

      On somewhat of a side note – “The Smash Brothers” documentary did not necessarily focus on this, but I remember it having a little blip on the vulgar language that spawns from the community, especially the use of “rape”. It was interesting to see the players in the documentary setting touch on how they know it isn’t a good thing but that it’s a little ingrained in the culture and a byproduct of the heated moments. I wish it had pushed the issue a little further, but it was still thought provoking to hear a couple people talk about it.

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