There is a cult-like following for some things in popular culture, and there is no way to use logic to justify this phenomenon. It might be harsh to call it a form of mental disease, perhaps, as attachment to even fictional things is not unusual for us frail human beings. It is in this vein that I choose this week to write a bit more extensively than in the past on a subject quite dear to me: a disparate group united by adoration of one company and its entire output. I speak of The Nintendonly, the cult of Nintendo apologists who have been brainwashed – not necessarily by their favorite company, but by their need to justify its too-frequent blunders and general idiocy. To this end I have researched cult-like behavior, and will frequently quote Margaret Singer, co-author of Cults in Our Midst (1995), in this editorial.
“The members serve as models of the attitudes and behaviors of the group and speak an in-group language.”
I will begin an examination of Nintendo and its worth as god-like entity to the faithful with a look at game curation. We will ignore obvious lies and suspect business practices for the moment, and simply look at the withholding of game software. For that is what it is, and nothing more. As you may be aware, some games, while fully realized and released to the public at some point in history, live in obscurity today due to understandable, or at least justifiable, reasons. Perhaps it is the problem of ownership, or simply a lack of enterprise by the owners of the intellectual property rights.
In some cases, there is the cold calculation of fiscal implications, as Nintendo could explain – if they were ever forthcoming regarding the true nature of their release rationale. Some obscure games, such as the pre-Chrono Cross Nintendo Satellaview Chrono Trigger spinoff Radical Dreamers, illustrate a game with something of a following and no commercial presence, inspire English wiki site entries and fan-made localizations – which are not uncommon for unavailable Japanese games. In the case of Radical Dreamers, which has both, there is still no chance of a proper release in North America, as interest is just too small. But there are more (and less obscure) games than Radical Dreamers, of course, and a prime example is the Mother series. To delve into that is the work of a future post. (A word to the wise, and all that.) In short, some games, however deserving, are presumed as not financially viable for current release.
“Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that
permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order.”
How unsurprising that Nintendo withholds games from fans eager to pay for the privilege of owning them legally. They have done some math and decided that the margins just do not justify it, so go about your business. Nintendo is a company which consistently places profit over fan interest in any classic game releases on their pitiful ‘Virtual Console’ and ‘Classic’ NES/SNES ‘consoles’ (read: disguised mini-PC emulators), but that is not how worshipers see it. Nintendonly faithful regard the limited game selections as ‘perfect’ and are grateful to their benevolent digital master for the laughable omissions, which – if Nintendo thinks so – they should not play, anyhow. Why would they? Members of any cult will always justify their illogical actions.
“Cults serve their own purposes, which are the purposes of the cult leader; their energies are focused inward rather than outward.”
But placing faith in an entity that exists only to create cash-flow for its management and shareholders seems like a bad outlet for the unconditional love that Nintendonly feel. Consider the love of inane party games seemingly designed to break expensive and ridiculously designed controllers in the N64 and GameCube eras (motion controls serving to mitigate the ill-effects of wild flailing on hardware beginning with the Wii era). Consider, if you will, THE BLUE SHELL.
“Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person’s former social identity.”
There is of course the worship of a comical representation of an Italian plumber to be considered. (It is… Well, it is just weird. At least Mickey Mouse is sort of cute. But a fat plumber? Oh well. Not worth getting into here, I think.) But, beyond acceptance of diminutive game libraries, limited ownership rights, and other questionable practices, what is Nintendo to the fans who own no competing console? Is it an empire based on the desire for untarnished youth? Do these faithful, in their blissful ignorance, accept the dictates of their parental overseers with the reverence of a loving and obedient child? At least Nintendo seems only to want their money, as such control could drive the weak-minded to extremes of thought and action that they, in their delusional fog, would justify.
It would be amusing to see how far the adoration of a former playing-card company in Japan might go to chunky Americans who can’t get enough Mario and Bowser, embroiled as they are in an endless and sterile battle of futility since no better plot has been invented in three decades. But why change anything if it is so clearly working? Nintendonly fear change. They also fear 60 FPS and modern amenities like portable digital game libraries based on a proper account system. But these things would only frighten and confuse the faithful. Master knows what is best for his children, and that means a tired library of unimaginative games running on dated hardware.
“Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group’s beliefs, and compliance are rewarded while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection.”
Like Nintendonly say, with their hands over their ears and glassy eyes fixed on some unknown object before you, “[CURRENT CONSOLE HARDWARE] is the best console, hands down! It has the best graphics! The best games! Shut up!!”