Whatever Happened to Final Fantasy IX?

Final Fantasy IX - Black Mage

With the ever-impressive Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn hitting the market over the summer, I’m left to ask important questions. Questions of deep thought and heavy weight, the sort that hang in the mind of all JRPG fans everywhere. The one, single question that’s been burning in our minds for years upon years at this point. Whatever happened to Final Fantasy IX​?

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The N64 Era Was a Great Time to Buy Video Games

N64Recently, our Editor-in-chief pointed out that the prices for N64 games were completely ridiculous. Junk puzzlers like Tetrisphere retailed for nearly $70; major releases like Turok and Killer Instinct Gold cost even more. Cartridge manufacturing and the increased cost of development were a deadly combination, and amassing a sizable collection of N64 games was a costly proposition.

But while the prices bordered on astronomical, the cost isn’t really what I remember about that era. For me, it was a glorious time to buy video games, high prices and all.

The Nintendo 64 launched in 1996, smack in the middle of my baby-sitting prime. Within a year of its release, I had an actual job and actual paychecks, all of which I could use to spend on video games. I made minimum wage and could only work 20 hours a week, but that didn’t matter. For the first time in my life, I had a disposable income, and no shortage of games to spend it on.

In 1999 — the year games like Super Smash Bros., Donkey Kong 64, and Pokémon Snap were released — I started working at Toys “R” Us. They paid me a then-incredible $6.60 an hour, and gave me all the hours I could ask for. More importantly, they gave me a 20% store discount, which I was free to apply to video games.

Pokémon Snap was a $70 game that offered about 2 hours of gameplay, but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. It wasn’t just that I didn’t have to pay full price, although that certainly helped. It was that I felt as though I had an endless supply of spending money. I had some expenses — food, clothing, dance classes — but none of them seemed very pressing. When I saw a game I wanted, I bought it, regardless of its price.

I’ve held onto my disposable income, but I’ve completely lost that lack of guilt. Nowadays, I obsess over video game purchases, and I hardly ever buy games on impulse. I used to plop down hundreds on games like it was nothing; now I can’t bring myself to grab $5 titles off my Steam wishlist.

In the grand scheme of things, I know my increased level of responsibility is a good thing. I make way more than $6.60 an hour, but my money still disappears pretty quickly. I barely have time for the games I own already; dropping precious cash on new titles is probably a bad idea.

Still, I can’t help but miss that time and the feeling that any game could be mine in an instant. The cost of games was too damn high, but I was never concerned with prices. I took chances, tried new things, and made some incredible discoveries along the way. It was a great time to be a gamer, ridiculous prices and all.

 

 

 

Let #GamerGate Die. Let the Fight for Ethics in Game Journalism Live On!

gggPeople have spent quite a few words writing about #GamerGate in the past month or so. The debate on whether it’s a hate campaign or a true push toward more ethical journalism rages on. I’m here to approach this from another direction: It’s both, and that’s why it needs to end.

#GamerGate marks, as I see it, one of the first times that anger over a game journalism scandal has been largely misguided and mistargeted. The fight for ethics in game journalism and gaming is nothing new, after all.

When Jack Thompson was calling video games tools of hate, people rallied against him, but their anger was solely directed at Jack Thompson alone. When Gamespot fired Jeff Gertsmann for giving Kane and Lynch a bad review, we fired back, letting them know we wouldn’t stand for an outlet that allows game publishers to push reviewers around. When Capcom pulled ads from Electronic Gaming Monthly back in the 90s because EGM gave their games bad reviews, we directed our rage at Capcom for being shallow and attempting to hide the truth. Moreover, when any game publisher or developer refuses to send out a review copy to an outlet that gave them a bad review in the past, we target our rage at that company and try to force them to live up to better standards.

But #GamerGate isn’t focused in this way. In fact, it’s not really focused at all. #GamerGate has been used to rally for increased ethics in reviewing, a renewed reliance of factual journalism instead of blogging-style journalism, decreased interactions between journalists and game industry professionals, and more. It doesn’t have one purpose so much as a general “make gaming journalism better” goal.

At the same time, some people are using #GamerGate to spread a message of hate. Yes, there are some good #GamerGate people out there, but there are also people who are using the hashtag to make death threats. I spoke to a #GamerGate supporter yesterday who called Anita Sarkeesian a “whore that needs to keep her mouth shut.” I’ve seen people say that Zoe Quinn should burn in hell. You don’t really need to try too hard. Just search the hashtag and you’ill find tons of death and rape threats directly at anyone who dares to besmirch the #GamerGate name.

These people are, admittedly, trolls that don’t stand for the amorphous core of what #GamerGate stands for. Still, the fact that there are so many of them marks the difference between #GamerGate and every previous fight for game journalism ethics. #GamerGate is splintered between people campaigning for a kind of fluffy, amorphous idea of journalistic integrity and people who truly are using it for hate.

USU was threatened with a school shooting because Anita Sarkeesian was going to give a speech there, and Sarkeesian herself said that one of the threats came from someone who claimed they were affiliated with #GamerGate. That’s a literal act of terrorism. When I bring that up to #GamerGate supporters, the answers I get are, “That’s not what #GamerGate stands for,” or “I don’t believe it; Anita Sarkeesian is lying.”

It seems like any sane person would want to distance themselves from a cause that also has people routinely threatening death, rape, and other atrocities to people who disagree with them. But #GamerGate has a no hashtag splintering policy, which means, whether you like it or not, rational supporters of the issue have to lump themselves in with people spewing hate speech. That is what scares me the most. People would rather hold on to this hashtag than abandon it and continue fighting the good fight for game journalism ethics without it.

That is the problem here. #GamerGate and journalistic ethics are not synonymous, and for some reason, #GamerGate supporters seem to feel that they are. The fight for ethics in game journalism raged on well before #GamerGate, and it will rage on well after. But #GamerGate itself isn’t just about ethics; it has also come to stand for a hate campaign. You might not be using it for hateful purposes, but there are people using the tag who are being awful.

This isn’t hidden knowledge; the common perception of #GamerGate is that of a hate group. Half of the gaming community knows it — including hardcore gamers, pro gamers, game developers and more — who say they don’t want to stand for the horrendous acts that have been done in the name of #GamerGate. The world outside gaming knows it. Outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times have published articles condemning the movement. Comedians like Patton Oswalt and actors like Mara Wilson have rallied their voices against the #GamerGate crowd on Twitter.

There are people who believe that if #GamerGate ends, the fight for journalistic integrity ends as well. That, my friends, is bullshit. The fight goes on, #GamerGate or no.

One common counter argument made by #GamerGate supporters involves the hashtag #KillAllMen. People claim that #KillAllMen spouts hatred and violence toward men, and that’s probably true. Does that mean all feminists support violence and hatred? Of course not. I’m a feminist, and I don’t use #KillAllMen, because I don’t like the things it stands for or the hate that it has been used for. #GamerGate supporters, on the other hand, are still using the #GamerGate hashtag even though it has has a history of being use for hate in the past.

What’s even scarier is that many people think this is all a conspiracy, and the gaming industry, game journalists, mainstream press, celebrities, and a good portion of gamers are all “in on it.” They believe articles in which people say they don’t want to be associated with a hashtag that has come to stand for hatred are nothing more than clickbait. To them, we’re all in each other’s pockets, writing false articles to make big bucks.

To that I say: “Hah, I wish!” My closet-sized apartment and ramen noodle dinner says I haven’t sold out to anyone. #GamerGate is reluctant to believe that there are people who just don’t agree with them. They’ve created a scenario in which everything they stand for is good, just, and spotless, and anyone who disagrees with them has to be part of something big and corrupt. As such, counterarguments die before they are even heard.

Straw MenConsider Men’s Rights. Men’s Rights as a concept, divorced from the current political climate, is honestly fine. Men should have rights, just as women should have rights. But Men’s Rights Activists and Men’s Rights movements have become synonymous with misogyny and bigotry, and they are typically steeped in hate. People who are actually campaigning for both “Men’s Rights” and “Women’s Rights” have taken to calling themselves allies or supporters of equal rights, because they don’t want to be associated with the hate perpetrated by the Men’s Rights movement.

Here’s my message to every well-minded #GamerGate supporter out there: I support the fight for journalistic integrity. I support a push for improved ethics in game journalism. I urge you to abandon the #GamerGate hashtag and continue fighting the fight, just as we did before #GamerGate came along, and just as we will afterward. Because — whether you like it or not — your righteous indignation is being used against people you don’t want to fight against. It’s being used for anti-feminist, prejudiced, and bigoted reasons, and it’s being used without your permission. It will continue to be used as such as long as you continue to support the #GamerGate campaign.

Blinding yourself to the bad things your movement has done does not make them go away, nor does saying “well that’s not what #GamerGate really stands for.” #GamerGate’s hands are dirty, its cause is soiled, and its presence is toxic. If #GamerGate was, at one point, a good thing, it isn’t anymore. It’s been hijacked, and it is now a vehicle for hate. If you continue to support the movement, you too will be looked at as a supporter of hate and bigotry.

So let #GamerGate die, and let the fight for ethics in game journalism live on. I think that’s the best thing any of us can do.

GamerGate Is Skub

GamerGate fence sittingOn numerous occasions, I’ve started to talk about GamerGate, only to scrap everything I’d written and back away. What I had to say didn’t seem significant enough to make up for the harassment I might receive. I kept my head down, my mouth shut, and waited for things to fade away.

But GamerGate has been going on for more than a month, and shows no sign of slowing down. The time for tongue-biting and self-censorship is long past. People from all sides need to speak up, stop shouting over each other, and start having real conversations. [Read more…]

The Most Touching #GamerGate Tumblr Post You’ll Read All Day

ControllersI’ve had some strong words for #GamerGate recently, but that doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to point out when one of their own does something incredibly awesome.

I’m referring to Michael Piña (Tumblr user hokuto-ju-no-ken)’s interaction with a 16-year-old girl who was harassing him. I reached out to him over Skype to get the full story. Here’s what he told me:

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who asks about GamerGate — this friend is anti and I’m pro — but it was a really calm and civil debate. It ended pretty quickly and we just went on with our day.

A few hours later I suddenly saw the tweets I posted screencaps of in my mentions on twitter, the doxxing/threats, and reported the account and asked people on my tumblr to report it as well.

A while later, the friend I had the initial discussion with told me that one of their followers/personal friends (the 16-year-old girl) sent her a message saying that she thinks she sent me a “really strong message” and that she did her best to make sure I wouldn’t “bother anymore women” with misogyny/harassment, etc.

She told the girl that her actions were disgusting and unacceptable. The girl reacted angrily, blocked contact, and called her a gender traitor and — excuse the language — a “male cum-guzzling sycophant.”

So, my friend, being a personal friend of this girl, decided to get in contact with her mother out of concern for her actions. I don’t know about their exact conversation, but the mother wanted to speak with me directly on the phone. That’s where the summary I gave came in.

This summary is pretty heartwarming, in fact. Instead of just telling you about it, I’ll let you read it for yourself. Here’s the link.

It’s sad that this girl honestly believed that “being a good feminist” meant she was obligated to doxx and harass people. However, Piña’s response was beautiful and heartwarming, and I’d like to believe he changed a confused girl’s life for the better.

More conversations like this need to happen right now. It’s been a rough six weeks, but I’m glad to know I live in a world where things like this happen.

 

Sometimes, I Feel Left Out of Gaming

Alcoholic LuigiAs many of you know, I don’t own a current-gen console. I don’t even own a last-gen console. I claim that this is because I hate modern gaming, but that’s not entirely true. The real truth is that I simply can’t afford to drop three hundred or more dollars on a toy.

Unfortunately, this leaves me feeling left out of some of the newer, more interesting experiences.

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What Dragon Quest VI Taught Me About Mortality

Earthbound Flying ManI will never be able to play all the games I want to play. It’s not a question of money or backlog management, but a matter of time. Life is short, even under the best of circumstances, and sooner or later, my number will be up.

But these morbid thoughts never entered my mind back in 1996, when I was more worried about the Nintendo Power Awards than my own mortality. It wasn’t that I felt invincible, but that death seemed impossibly far away. The funerals I’d attended were for people who seemed ancient; methuselan beings with lifetimes of accomplishments behind them. I thought I had more than enough time to do all the things I wanted to do, and to play all the games that I wanted to play.

Dragon Quest VI proved me wrong. [Read more…]

Calling Mega Man Rockman Doesn’t Make You a Better Person

Mega_ManAlright, I’m just going to throw this one out there. If you live in the United States, his name is “Mega Man.”

I get what you’re trying to do, but here’s the thing. You aren’t being clever. You aren’t being smart. You aren’t a “true” fan just because you refuse to refer to him by anything other than “Rockman.” What you are, however, is a condescending ass.

Hopping into a message board and saying, “I’m not a fan of Rock’s face in his statue, but if the coloring is done right I might look into getting one,” makes you sound like a pompous douche, and critiquing how his face looks in a statue only increases your douchdum. You’re probably going to get that statue regardless of how the “coloring is done.”

Mega Man boss selectGamers have this need to constantly one up each other, and it’s pretty freaking annoying. It doesn’t matter who has the higher gamerscore or trophy count. I don’t care that you imported Final Fantasy VIII in its original Japanese. I certainly don’t want to hear about how Super Mario Bros. 2 is actually just a reskinned version of Doki Doki Panic.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy discovering and discussing the hidden quirks in video game history as much as the next guy. But if you think for a second that this “knowledge” makes you somehow better than me — or anyone else, for that matter — you are mistaken.

The Importance of a Gaming Wingman

Borderlands co-opEvery gamer needs a wingman.

Games are at their best when you have someone to sit shotgun. They can offer tips and observations that will move the journey along when you get stuck, or help you out when you can’t see an answer that’s right in front of your face. [Read more…]

Zoe Quinn, the Quinnspiracy, and the Media Blackout That Never Actually Happened

Censored

The dust has settled enough on this Zoe Quinn situation that I can point out something without being skewered and roasted alive for it, right?

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