Rambling Thoughts – Fandoms, Identity, and Attachment

I’ve often wondered what’s at work with the various levels of interest and involvement with any given activity. The world is full of people who have found something and developed a unique level of devotion to it. They invest large quantities of time and energy, often incorporating it into their very identity. For most non-gaming friends, I would compare it most reality to the near-religious devotion some show to sports teams. In reality, it can apply to anything.

While I have been known to use the word fan to describe myself in some contexts, there are also some I actively avoid referring to in such a way. Situations where being a fan of something carries extra context that I do not wish to be associated with. A slightly less than prescient example would be Rick and Morty. I “kinda like” it, but apparently not enough to pay for the latest season. It’s just not worth it. It has a very loud and cringy following as well, which I typically don’t wish to be associated with. All things do, to some extent, though most of them are less over the top.

There are few things in my life that approach that level of devotion. Even those that do, such as the Discworld series of books, don’t quite meet the higher standards. There are some very valid criticisms of Pratchett and Discworld. What fascinates me is when it reaches a point where criticism of a work, team, game, etc, is emotionally the same as criticism of the self. How does that happen? Is it a desire to educate others? Is it a desire to help someone else feel the positivity that they do?

Whatever it is, it can be quite strong and overpowering at time. Strong emotional attachments are, I guess. I’ve often wondered how much overlap there is between this behavior and hype trains. They seem very similar in nature, though one is personal and the other is communal. Like any attachment, the loss that occurs at the end is quite poignant. Whether it’s the realization that you no longer feel connected with it, or the sudden crash of things not living up to expectations. Perhaps avoidance of that discomfort drives the more fanatical defense.

I’m certainly not immune to the occasional hype train. I try to recognize it and distance myself when it happens. Hang onto the caboose ready to bail if things get ugly. My yardstick for measuring that attachment is actually pre-order status. If I want to pre-order a game, for example, I’m a bit too close to the inside. I would say that I’ve only done it once or twice and it went very poorly, but perhaps that’s just confirmation bias.

That’s enough of that though. Y’all take care.

2 thoughts on “Rambling Thoughts – Fandoms, Identity, and Attachment

  1. I agree with most of that but I have never understood what the supposed problem with pre-ordering stuff is or why it’s supposed to represent some kind of fannish behavior. I pre-order things that I’m in no way a fan of quite often. It’s just convenient. If I know I will want to play/watch/listen to/read something when it becomes available it justs saves me time to pre-order it when I make that decision rather than leave it hanging.

    I don’t see it as any different from paying water charges or property taxes for the forthcoming year in one lump sum, something people do as standard. No-one accuses people who do that of being crazed fans of utility payments with no self-control or sense of perspective. It’s just a practical choice often preferred by those who can afford it while those who can’t are channelled into the less-convenient route of monthly or quarterly payments.

    Even the spurious argument about the money being better in your bank account than the company’s doesn’t make sense. Does anyone actually get interest on their current account these days? I know I don’t. And for games, generally they don’t even take the money until the game is released. I pre-ordered New World in 2019 and I still haven’t paid for it.

    Pre-ordering seems like the rational, cool-headed choice of people who aren’t overly emotionally engaged to me, rather than, as it’s often portrayed, the exact opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always thought it was more about spending money on a product of undetermined quality. It’s really not that big a deal and we do it all the time.

      I imagine it’s born from the idea that games are “expensive” so we better make sure we only buy the “good ones.”

      Might do a post about just preorders soon. Think I have a decent amount to say about that.


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