Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Problematic Culture

So, I just saw some early peeks into "Lightning Returns", which is a spin-off of Final Fantasy that is by the Valkyrie Profile team and is basically Valkyrie Profile 3: Final Fantasy Crossover.

The problem is that Valkyrie Profile was fairly progressive for its era, while Final Fantasy is astoundingly regressive for its era. Valkyrie Profile has tremendous respect for itself and its characters, while Final Fantasy is so disrespectful in its pursuit of the almighty dollar that the characters can only be described in terms of their appearance plus one adjective, if that much.

To me it feels like the creeping stink of Square Enix is poisoning another good franchise.

Let me explain.

In Valkyrie Profile, when you leveled up your characters would become better people. You would increase their bravery, their kindness... decrease their bloodlust or greed. Their personalities were embedded so deep into the gameplay that where other games would talk about +2 magic power, Valkyrie Profile would talk about +2 kindness. In a game with dozens of characters, they all shone brilliantly and clearly every second you played with them. In fact, the main plot was about growing your personality and independence!

In Final Fantasy, the characters are treated as containers for stats. Their personalities are suborned to ever-changing combat roles and, if they are women, to the clothes you make them wear. This is especially true in Lightning Returns.

The worst part is that they actively destroyed one of the least objectified women in the franchise. They chose one of the few women that existed as more than a fanservice romance target, and made absolutely sure to destroy her specifically. Obviously her personality should depend on the costume she wears! Obviously!

Ugh. Dressup isn't even inherently that awful. They've made it awful by aiming at the worst target and killing her with it.

As an example, there are many western RPGs where you can dress your character up however you want. Many people dress their character up very sexy. It's unsuitable, sure. It's sexist, yeah. But the character has no predetermined personality. The only personality these characters have is the one you assign to them. So when you create a character that dresses sexy all the time, you've created a person that likes to dress sexy. Sure, it's a shitty, sexist character. But you didn't objectify someone to get your jollies. You created someone that likes to help you get your jollies.

Hopefully the difference is clear.


I hate Square Enix. Their culture is awful. They poison everything.

It's nice that the Valkyrie Profile team are trying to pull them out of the quagmire they sank into... but the result is that the Valkryie Profile team is sinking into the same shit.

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