Serious business (Credit: mashed.com)

Serious business (Credit: mashed.com)

It’s been 3 years since the 8th generation consoles hit the market. And while they’ve had their ups and downs, PS4 and Xbox One are a commercial success, with both outselling their previous iterations over the same point in time. And throughout these last three years the industry has weathered it’s share of controversies, from #ResolutionGate to #PS4NoParity to “Green discs are not sexy” to Jim Sterling’s site being DDOS’d by people upset with his reviews. But this particular piece will focus on a very recent, Twitter-based (And to perfectly honest, completely stupid) trend that has been happening these past couple of months: The “neutrals”.

I still don’t know the exact origin of the term’s use, but apparently some people are being called “neutral” because they “love and play on all consoles” and “have no preferences”, while at the same time “bashing” Xbox and its community, thus showing that they are hypocrites with their “neutrality”.

Let me get one thing straight: I’m not neutral. You’re not neutral. Your landlord is not neutral. Your 80 year old grandfather is not neutral. Your dog is not neutral.

No one is neutral.

We all have preferences: a favorite snack, a favorite sweet, a favorite TV show, a favorite team, a favorite movie,  whether we are a dog or a cat person, a favorite hand to touch yourself… And yes, a favorite gaming console.

A quick search on Twitter will reveal the word “neutral” is used by Xbox fanboys in reference to anyone who’s a Playstation gamer, fanboy or not, or people who refer themselves as one jokingly. Have a positive opinion on games from all consoles? Fricking neutral! Malicious Playstation fanboy that spends all day bashing a piece of plastic they don’t like and the community around it? Same thing, you filthy neutral! Guy who keeps baiting fanboys on social media? Guess what? Yep. N-E-U-T-R-A-L.

The word “neutral” has encompassed so many things that it became a word without real meaning, a way to dismiss anyone who criticizes an Xbox fanboy or an opinion on the console/games/brand, regardless whether it’s constructive or not. Ask 10 people what “neutral” means on gaming Twitter and they’ll probably give you 10 different answers.

Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo have amazing communities with great people, but the horrific attitudes among a subset of gamers creates an unnecessary divide, spawning animosity and stress in a hobby that’s about fun and personal relationships. It’s about community. I’m not saying we should all gather around in a circle holding hands humming the Final Fantasy Prelude, but we should learn to separate those with valid criticisms and those we are just around to stir the pot, and engage in civil discourse while ignoring those who have nothing worthwhile to say instead of playing the “Oh, look! A neutral” card.

I’ve criticized the Xbox One and Playstation 4 when they deserve to be criticized (it hasn’t always been like that, I’ll admit it.). Between blasting the 2013 disastrous Xbox One reveal, Sony’s lack of worthwhile exclusives during the first couple of years, Microsoft’s insistence to put all its exclusives during the most busy period of the year and killing promising new IPs in the process, and Sony’s penchant for announcing games years too early……you know what I’d be called? A neutral.

And that’s the crux of the whole “neutral” ordeal. Some people mix having a preference with being “impartial”. You can love a gaming platform to death (*cough* PC *cough*), but that doesn’t mean you can let it define your views about the other platforms, acknowledging what they’re doing right or wrong. It’s OK to be a fan! But what’s not OK is to create false narratives and agendas because you either don’t like the company making that console you don’t like or putting every single member of a community in the same basket, which is something I did a lot during my first year on Twitter and I regret it, cause some of these people are among of the best I’ve met there.

Gaming is in a great moment right now. Xbox One and PS4 are selling well and seeing some amazing games released every year. AAA and indie developers have created some of the best games this generation in 2016; 2017 is shaping up to be an even more amazing year.

So why? Why are we doing this? Why are creating walls and divides just because we prefer different gaming platforms? Brands shouldn’t separate us. We’re worse today than we were during the Sega x Nintendo days, because at the time most of us were just kids (well, some already had kids, but let’s not get into that, right old pals? 😀 ). Now we see adults with families, husbands and wives with kids and good jobs, blowing something as inconsequential as gaming out of proportion, and what for?

These companies are not our friends. They’re not our employees. They don’t pay our bills, they won’t keep  a roof over our heads and food on our tables. They’re here to provide a product and we are its consumers, so it’s within our right to criticize them and those who don’t and instead just slather these faceless entities with blind love, loyalty and praise are only doing these companies a favor.

Why are Xbox fanboys are playing the “neutral” card? Maybe they want to negate all valid criticism by associating it with the real PS4 fanboys, those who really hate Microsoft and the Xbox brand (which is a stupid thing to do. Why the hell would you hate a corporation, especially when you have zero investment in it?). Maybe they truly BELIEVE what they’re saying: that “neutrals” are all hypocrite Playstation fanboys who pretends to love all consoles while bashing Xbox while letting Playstation off the hook.

This isn’t healthy for the gaming community (And I mean it as the community in general, not just Xbox or Playstation) and it only leads to creating hills you’re gonna stupidly die on. And to the fellas calling people “neutrals” when someone comes up in your timeline you don’t agree with: try to read what the person is trying to say. Engage, and if you manage to have a civil discourse with said person then maybe you’ll find out you’ve been wrong about this person. If not, there’s always the block button.

*Author’s note- I thought about mentioning more about Playstation fanboys, but their brand of toxicity doesn’t really pertain to this situation and is a subject for another article