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BBBAAAAAWWWWW is the sound they make…. that's descriptive enough, right?

I’ve been reading through the FFVII Letters today, and quite frankly I’m annoyed at them.

I’m annoyed for a couple of reasons, the least of which, as I mention on twitter, is that I’m really tired of FFVII. I love the game, don’t get me wrong. I remember the day we got FFVII and our PlayStation broke the same day. I remember the first time I powered my way past the Midgar Zolom because I didn’t know about getting a chocobo. I cried when Aeris died, and I still call her Aeris because that’s what she was called back then.

I don’t deny that it has its place as a culture point of reference. FFVII was a groundbreaking game, and is a memorable game. I enjoy replaying it from time to time. And as a Final Fantasy, if people want to put that on the top of their lists, I’m fine with it – I disagree, I think FFVI is the better game, but I get it.

FFVII was important in opening up the world of gaming – it was no longer just this isolated world that happened in arcades or basements, that was seen as isolating. It was bigger than that. And something in it definitely speaks to the idea of Video Games can be Art.

No one who considers themselves a gamer today has not been effected by FFVII, either directly of indirectly. But like all things, it has a time and place. It has its weaknesses, and there are plenty of those.

Again, I will stress that I don’t deny the importance of FFVII. But I do think we should recognize that great things have come after FFVII, and that ideas in FFVII did not all originate there.

It was this particular paragraph that struck me, and urged me to write this:

So, why do you think this game engenders (and engendered) such a communal response? Is it due to the simple fact that by now a high enough percentage of people have played the game that almost everyone has something to say about it? Or is it that back when most folks played, online FAQs had not achieved their current level of ubiquitousness? Or is there something more, something specific to JRPGs in general and FFVII specifically?

This entire passage is under a false assumption – the assumption that a single player game is traditionally a lonely event – that when one person plays a game, they play it in isolation.

This has never been the case. Certainly, single player games require one person to play it at a time, and in the days before FFVII, when the internet wasn’t the beast it is now, having these conversations about games was harder, but the community was always there.

I’ll repeat that:

The gaming community has always existed.

There’s always been someone to talk to – a brother, a friend, a penpal. You would share games, and share opinions much like a book.

There is nothing specific to JRPGs, or FFVII that makes the community any different than any other game community. You can look to modern games today and see this same thing in effect:

In Halo – what weapon do you favor (I favor the shot gun and needler)

In Mass Effect – Who is your Shepard? (FemShep, Paragade)

In WoW – What’s your favorite class? (I like druids)

And before then you can go all the way back to Super Mario Borthers, and going to school to talk with your friend about beating level 5-3, and give them help if they needed it, while they told you about the vine.

FFVII is not special in that regard. At all.

I would actually hypothesize that the reason FFVII is so well loved is because of how quickly we were able to communicate about it: we were now able to go on the internet and talk with people halfway across the world about how awesome FFVII was.

But that’s because FFVII was in the right place at the right time: a new game, on a new console, with a new means of communication.

For my part, I looked up name theory and who Cloud really loved (Aeris ftw), but my opinions about FFVII, the things I hold dear about it, are no more or less precious than the moments I hold dear about other games. I loved Xenogears so much that I joined a forum and was on it for about 5 years (non-consecutive), discussing the same things that the author here suggests is unique to JRPGs or FFVII.

I realize that I just mentioned a JRPG which doesn’t do anything to disprove his point. I’ll qualify this.

I liked JRPGs back in the day. That meant that those were the games I played primarily, and those were the communities I sought out.

But there were and are plenty of other non-JRPG game communities.

I feel lucky to have played FFVII when it was new, and bleeding edge. I loved it, and it changed the way I looked at games, and changed my opinions on what I want in a game, which has turned into a double edged sword, because now the things I want in a game I can’t find in FFVII.

I’ll add that, because I am the way I am, the attitude in the FFVII letters comes across as pedantic and exclusionary. It’s highly praising of everything FFVII does right, skims past its faults, and the authors use big words and ideas to express what they’re feeling in a grandiose, academic style. It’s offputting, and it’s pretentious. Just because you have a boner over how intelligent you are doesn’t mean I want to see it. Go jack off in the corner and come back to me when you’ve cooled your jets enough to plainly say what you mean.

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