Debate is not an instinct. It's far easier for gamers, sports fans, political partisans, and anyone waging a proxy war through message board avatars and lolcats to simply shout down the heretics and rationalise their complaints so as to diminish their validity.
Some of us can't enjoy a thing if someone else is hating it louder. They see dissent not as subjective opinion but as a threatening affront demanding a response. It's not a rational reaction, it's an emotional one, and while we're all perfectly capable of achieving the former, some so rarely move beyond the latter. At a certain level, it's not discourse, it's a game. Allegiances are quickly drawn to various franchises, developers and consoles, and no one can admit any fault because one little concession is a victory for the other team. The internet ruins everything.
Over at Michael Abbott's The Brainy Gamer, someone accused Steve Gaynor (or Michael, it's not clear, probably both) of not being a true gamer because he didn't like Metal Gear Solid 4, or, more accurately, "finished it out of spite". It's a common tactic. The opinions of de facto "false gamers" or "false fans" are worthless. When N'Gai Croal suggests that the imagery in Resident Evil 5 has racist connotations, the counter-argument is that he's trying to make a name for himself and that he's only played video games for ten years. As if the ambitious never had anything relevant to say, but the black-and-white/for-or-against defence mechanism doesn't let them entertain that nuance. It's uncomfortable to deal with the idea that this beloved game might be racist, so they don't accept the premise. They're not even willing to concede that the game might play great yet still have unintentionally racial overtones. Private disagreement does not suffice, as others might read Croal and be convinced by him. Those people will turn against the game and that's a big loss for the Resident Evil 5 team. Instinct directs the fans to destroy Croal instead of destroying his points. Cognitive dissonance is the watchword. As long as we can create for ourselves a reality in which Steve Gaynor's opinions do not count, then we'll always win.
It happens to everyone. I believe that I have good reason to be excited by Bethesda's Fallout 3, but when I turn my thoughts towards that game, it's not its merits or its heritage that I first consider. Instead, it's the people who don't like it. To clarify: there are the people who are pessimistic about Fallout 3, there are the people who don't want to like it, and then there are the people who violently complain about not being able to murder virtual children, graphically liken journalists to whores, threaten to piss in the mouth of the Fallout 3 composer, sneak into press events, brag about slapping their girlfriends for disrespecting Fallout, produce this image without irony, and accuse Bethesda of orchestrating a massive conspiracy to personally discredit them and the truths they seek to expose.
I've never argued about this game with anyone, but, as they say, if you stare into the Abyss long enough, the Fallout fans make you furious. To my mind, they represent the absolute worst aspects of video game fans and fandom in general, their only saving grace being that they don't actually want to have sex with the Vault Boy. I want to deny the lunatic fringe the satisfaction of my disappointment. That's got to be an emotional reaction, one that puts my credibility in danger. Will this affect my honest opinion of the game? I'm demonising and dismissing these fans as wife-beaters and throat-pissers. Am I trying to make sure others don't take them seriously? Is it my turn to be the internet asshole? Why am I supposed to be better than the guy who accuses Croal of playing the race card without reading his thoughts? If I examine this situation logically will I be forced to change my mind? There are a lot of questions involved and the simplest answer is to ignore them all.
In that same Brainy Gamer post, someone accuses Michael of thinking too much. That isn't the problem.