My favorite lady in video games, Jane McGonigal, thinks that video games are a great way to improve humanity.
I have been using video games on and off, recreationally and as an antidepressant, for a long time. Dealing with one’s problems is tough sometimes. It requires mindless pursuits. I like walks, mostly. But when I have a broken toe, like right now, or when I’m just not feeling like going outside due to weather, video games can help.
I wanted to take a moment to note that FFXIV* is the perfect game for a student. It is chock full of MMO zombies who often run loud and ridiculously Republican in their views, and their liberal counterparts, so you can’t take anyone seriously. Also, most people in pickup groups are bad at playing the game, on my server, which makes it very little fun. As such, I love the game, but hate the other players and most of the gameplay and am kind of bad at it, so I play it religiously, but for very, very little time in a row in most cases. It is a mild form of digital self-flagellation, which suits me fine. For some reason, this exact interplay has been associated with my taking school deadly serious. It is possible that when I became an agnostic at, like, 5, I subconsciously took up the religion of video gaming. That’s okay.
It is also quite irreverent about gods. Gods, in Final Fantasy, are something to be defeated as the illusions they truly are, so that their enthralled followers can go back to living life and dancing and whatnot. It is irreverent like The Book of Mormon Musical – this song is worth a close listen:
And Tim Minchin:
Whoever writes FFXIV plots is basically the Mark Twain of our day;
all of the stories are about the moneyed peoples sucking the soul out of life and turning the planet into a blackened wasteland in some way. Lawful evil rulers insane with power, as well as the inhuman creatures they summon, get out of control and threaten the life of millions on a regular basis.
(Explanation of lawful evil: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons) )
The game also functions as a super-advanced version of almost every Facebook maintenance-based game. You can farm, you can level your acolytes, you can do all kinds of crap I never do because I like hard games. Which is another reason I like FFXIV: it is either super-easy, so I get bored almost instantly, or insanely hard, because someone is screwing up, sometimes me, on a difficult fight.
I won’t post videos of it. It doesn’t look that great, compared to other modern games. The soundtrack sucks, which is good, because the soundtrack from Final Fantasy 6 and 7 still lull me into a sense of childlike wonder, and if FFXIV played that while I was playing it, I would be completely enthralled and unable to blog like this. I usually play it without music or sound effects.
Oh, also, the fans are lame! I tried to watch their fan production, a talk show featuring one unhealthy-looking fellow who constantly has to reassert his dominance and one stoner dude who appears to not give a shit. Of course, they might be fairly representing their average player in this selection. So I couldn’t even get into that. I would probably never go to a FFXIV convention unless I was paid to, but it would probably be pretty interesting – at the very least in how mediocre it might be.
By the way, all of this is said in pure love. The Final Fantasy series kept me grounded and alive during a childhood where I didn’t have much else. Moogles were like digital teddy bears to me. Terra was like a big sister to me. Sephiroth inspired me to make a mark the world would never forget, at whatever cost, even my sanity. Yeah, lots of books too, but the philosophy laid down in the Final Fantasy series changed me fundamentally as a person. I have obviously altered it in many places, but it still serves as a fantastic guide to right and wrong ways of interacting with others in a society. The wrong ways are always punished in the end, everyone gets some kind of justice. It’s a terrible way to think, but for an OCD person, it’s many plot-holes all tied up in a never-ending row of satisfied mini-story completions. I used to love Choose Your Own Adventure novels as a child. But, not a lot.
More reasons the game is bad: the abilities are simple, and all abilities are handed out at level 50. There are slightly too many abilities, ensuring that I will never give that much of a crap about the game, because shuffling my bars around every fight is tedious and I don’t want to organize my bars because the game is not that good. All of the abilities are approximately evenly effective, so you have to use big tedious mixes of abilities if you’re doing damage, which sucks. In all, it’s just a tiny bit more tedious than actual life, and with only crappy digital rewards. I love the bad graphics. Se magnifique.
So yeah. There’s that. Also I tagged Felicia Day because The Guild is awesome and oh my damn god she is hot.
The show is awkward, just like most interesting gen xers I know.
*Final Fantasy XIV. The second-point-five massively multiplayer online RPG in the Final Fantasy series. It seriously is bad in a good way. All of the quests are based, to me, around the theme that mindlessly running around in a quest world is work, which it is clearly not. Real work, says the game repeatedly, requires discipline and just doing the work. The game even has you do self-care stuff, like getting people food and cleaning rooms, and that’s in the main storyline. It’s therapeutic for someone who was not brought up to keep a house because his parents were crazy. But really, it’s kind of a crappy MMO. Which is why it’s great.
It reminds me of the original Metroid for SNES. So goddamned hard, so never-ending, so sort of unsatisfying after the first time through because half the original mystery was what was coming next. Like math.