Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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New England Gamer
August 2010

Fanboy Confessions: Buying an Xbox 360

I did have a column written and ready about my recent efforts at capping my video game spending, but I just returned from buying an Xbox 360 and it seemed a bit erroneous to be patting myself on the back when there's a brand new console sitting in my living room. I can at least say with some modicum of honesty that this wasn't exactly a spur-of-the-moment purchase. My wife and I both love Mass Effect, but up until now I've only had a PS3 (and a dusty Wii) so playing it has meant taking turns with our PC. One of the things we enjoyed about Dragon Age was being able to play it together at the same time. With Mass Effect 3 coming at least a year or two down the road, we'd been talking about buying an Xbox to help replicate that experience. It had been little more than idle talk up until now, but today we took the next step and did it.

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It's odd to me to have all three of the major consoles. I've had a PS3 since 2006 and a Wii for roughly the same, but I'd all but spelled off ever owning a 360. It was just that extra expense that we didn't need, especially since I was perfectly satisfied with my other two consoles. Moreover, outside of a few nuggets, I was largely disinterested in the major titles in the Xbox library. Halo has never appealed to me and the more I hear about Gears of War the more it's convinced me the game's story would just annoy me. The only exclusives that really intrigued me were Lost Odyssey and Alan Wake. I've read all about how much better multiplayer is with Xbox Live, but I'm not a huge fan of multiplayer games so the value of that is somewhat wasted on me. I'm happy to have a 360, but I'm not especially excited about it.

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I'd be lying if I were to try and claim this wasn't due to some light fanboyism on my part. It's a hard thing to confess, since I hold myself as being above all the silliness of the "console wars," but I can admit now that I've generally wanted the PS3 to do better than the 360. Back when I was younger, I might have been amongst the ranks of the frothing teenagers screaming at each other about which console was best. I'm smart enough now to know that my feelings are nothing more than a reaction to my insecurity as a consumer.

I was a relatively early adopter of the PS3. I consider myself lucky now to have a backwards compatible PS3; but back then, when I had just laid down six hundred dollars on my cool, shiny and struggling console, I was bit nervous about my purchase. Back then the detractors were right, there weren't many good games for the PS3 yet and rather than face the legitimate misgivings that I had bought the wrong console, I worked hard to assure myself in other ways that it had been the right decision.

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While some of that materialized as telling myself that the PS3 would have better games later on, much of it was just belittling the Xbox 360. "At least I don't have to pay to play online!" "I don't have to worry about the red ring of death!" "I get to play Metal Gear Solid 4!" I didn't think these things with vitriol, but I still thought them. E3 would roll around and I watched Sony's presentation with glee, grinning at each reveal. I would watch the Microsoft presentation's as well, but my attitude was more like scoping out the competition.

With time I stopped doing this. The PS3 had a slow start, but it has since grown into a superior system with a great library and some excellent features. As this happened I was able to develop an attitude more in line with the true nature of the console wars. None of the three systems on the market are bad, they're just good in their own way. The PS3 is probably the best multifunction machine on the market. It does well at most everything, if not perfectly at some things. The Xbox 360, despite hardware flaws and that pesky subscription fee, has a great library and multiplayer features. The Wii revolutionized casual gaming and helped introduce motion controls, if perhaps to middling results. The industry is better off for their competition

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Fanboyism is natural; in addition to preferring the PS3, I also prefer my car, my apartment and my brand of beer (Sam Adams for the win!). People work hard for their money and when they invest it in a product, they're also investing their hopes and yes, their dreams into it as well. Expecting people to not be enthusiastic when that product does well is just unrealistic. The important thing isn't avoiding fandom, it's to indulge in it in a tempered fashion. Leave the juvenile behavior to the juveniles; they'll grow out of it. If you're an adult you should have already.

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Read more by Stewart Shearer

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