Feminism In Gaming: Final Fantasy 12 with Mod Aria!

Mod Aria’s back! Since the HD Remaster of Final Fantasy 12 has recently hit the shelves, I thought I’d take the chance to have a brief feminist discussion about the game. I’ve played many a Final Fantasy in my two and a half decades, and to say that Final Fantasy 12 is a treasured memory of mine would be…an exaggeration. The game just cannot compare to any of the others in the franchise for a myriad of reasons. But does it hold it’s own under scrutiny of my feminist lens? Come along with me and see!

The first to know is that a point of frustration in Final Fantasy 12 is the situation involving who is considered to be the “real main character” of the game. I usually see fans argue between four characters, but the typical argument is against Vaan (who Square Enix identifies as the main character) and Ashe (who the story really focuses on). The point Square Enix argues is that the story is told from an outsider looking in; a good example of that in another piece of fiction would be Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby.

The difference between Nick and Vaan, however, is that Nick has the opportunity in the narrative to actually talk about his own feelings about the situation. Vaan hardly ever comments on what’s going on, shows no kind of growth from the events of Final Fantasy 12 and is only really tied to the story by the flimsiest of fringes. All in all, it feels more like he was tacked on at the last minute. His character is not whole in comparison to some of the others. And a main character that does not feel whole in the sense of creation does not make for good story telling.

So why then, is Ashe not the main character? She is the one leading the party; it’s her that makes a difference in the world. We see her struggle with her own personal demons while confronting the antagonists of the game itself. She’s dynamic and interesting. She has all the markings for a great protagonist. Yet the representative for Final Fantasy 12 is Vaan. What happened here?

Let’s take a step back for a second and talk about another Final Fantasy in a similar situation: Final Fantasy 6. When you ask a fan of Final Fantasy 6 who the main character is, usually the answer is immediately Terra. But, Terra is only the the titular lead of the game. That’s right. Square Enix has stated that, technically, there is no real main character of Final Fantasy 6. Terra is simply the poster girl for the game. This situation is quite an odd one considering how beloved Final Fantasy 6 and Terra are. And it’s even more interesting to compare the situations in Final Fantasy 12 with Final Fantasy 6.

If the stories focus around these fantastic women, why are they not considered the leads? Why give these weak responses when the status of central protagonist is called into question? Two even more pivotal questions arise: Is this considered bad writing? Did gender come into play when making these calls?

I’m going to give my own personal opinion to answer these questions, but I’m going to do my best to support my answers. Let’s start with the second question first: did gender come into play when making these calls in Final Fantasies 6 and 12. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” from me. These games were created in the span of decades where gaming marketing was heavily targeted towards male gamers and young boys. Naturally, playing as a character that shares your gender helps you relate better to that character. Hence why there are so many classic games with controllable male characters.

And I hear you already; “Final Fantasy is turn based! You control all the characters!”. Yes, but that doesn’t really dismiss my point. Final Fantasy 6 claims there is no main character, so it’s an easy claim to make when you can control all the characters despite the default sprite falling to Terra. Final Fantasy 12 is in an even more interesting situation, as the game isn’t fully turn based. Not only that, but the camera fixes on the lead character in the party. Vaan is also the default map character. Final Fantasy 6 is taking the focus off of Terra, and Final Fantasy 12 is putting the focus on Vaan.

So, my point still stands. I think that Terra being denounced as the main character of Final Fantasy 6 and Vaan being appointed as main character of Final Fantasy 12 was a marketing attempt to get the game bought by male gamers.

The first question is also easily answered by me: “Is this bad writing?”. Frankly, yes. Saying Vaan is an “outside looking in” main character when he is so horribly created comes across as just pretext. Square Enix had to create a crappy DS sequel of Final Fantasy 12 in order to force that reality down their fans’ throats. Vaan isn’t experiencing the narrative, he’s watching it. And any attempt to tie Vaan into the story was terribly done. So, when push comes to shove, I think Final Fantasy 12 was not well written.

Final Fantasy 6’s writing hasn’t really come into play here, I just think Square Enix’s marketing team is a bit sexist.

So what can you take away from this article? Mainly, that game companies need to let female characters be the main characters of a game if they’re really the main character. Inventing some dumb reason why they aren’t when it’s clear that they are is no longer acceptable in 2017. Game companies need to stop forcing every story to star a male character in order to sell a game. It’s sexist and unacceptable.

The market is not the same as it was in the 80s, 90s and even the 2000s. More women are playing games, and therefore more women deserve the see their gender well represented in a story. The gaming climate needs to adjust, or we will see the fall of beloved game franchises like Final Fantasy. Only time will tell.


Thanks for reading this article and please continue to support NWG. Until we meet again!

Character Spotlight: Futaba Sakura from Persona 5 with Mod Aria!

Hello all Nasties! Mod Aria is back today with another Character Spotlight. As Atlus has just announced a Persona 5 anime set to air in 2018, I decided to celebrate. So today, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite Persona 5 characters, Futaba. I feel as though Futaba is a character so many people can relate to (especially female gamers), so it’s no surprise that I find her absolutely wonderful. But there’s so much packed into Futaba’s character that I feel like goes unnoticed. So I’ve made it my mission today to discuss it with our dear readers! Warning: Spoilers Follow. Suicide discussion also appears.

Naturally, if you’ve played Persona 5, you know what’s up with Futaba. She suffers from a mental illness due to a horrific incident in her past. But before we get into her psyche, let’s just talk about some fun things. Futaba is a computer geek, a gamer and an otaku. She is also a genius; Futaba reveals at one point while bonding with her that she was so much smarter than the other children in her school that she faked failing tests just to fit in. Futaba may be young and immature, but she is leagues beyond all of the rest of the Persona 5 cast.

In regards to her Persona, she spends her time on the sidelines. Futaba maps the dungeons that you spelunk as well as offers support during combat. I think her support role fits her character very well; even though she is healing, that process takes time. Having her engage in combat would seem too unrealistic for her. Even her mannerisms as the game progresses symbolize her own nervousness: her hunched posture, her mumbling, her emotional range. What I’m trying to get at is that Futaba is a very well made character.

Futaba suffers from a very unique, yet very tragic situation. The death of her mother leaves her scarred and frightened, and her trauma is justified. Being blamed for the apparent suicide of her mother has given Futaba severe agoraphobia; she hardly even feels comfortable leaving her own bedroom, let alone her home. This interferes with Futaba’s life so heavily that even her existence is a rumor. What’s amazing about the situation is this: despite feeling there is nothing she can do, Futaba is (or was) on her way to recovery even though she didn’t realize it.

The fact that Futaba approached the Phantom Thieves at all means that she recognized how her PTSD had taken control of her life. She wanted to fix it; to be free of her fear. You know that saying “the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem”? There’s merit in that statement; you can’t fix what you don’t think is broken. Futaba wanted to take those steps. She just thought that the Phantom Thieves stealing her heart would be the only solution. But is that really the case?

Because Futaba is cognizant of her agoraphobia and wants to fix it, I personally don’t think that she wouldn’t have recovered without the Phantom Thieves. However, that’s just what I think. The game presents quite the opposite: if you miss the deadline to steal Futaba’s heart, she commits suicide because of her crumbling mental state. It’s quite a dark ending, but not an uncommon scenario. Many people who know they need help and want it can end up hurting themselves due to the melancholy over thinking there is no way out. Especially if the only way out they know ends in failure. She likely not only had agoraphobia, but severe depression as well.

This is just another reason why I think Futaba is a terrifically crafted character: her mental illness(es) is/are showcased in such an accurate way, and seeing her take the steps to heal is one of the best parts about bonding with her in the game. While it is a miraculously fast recovery, the game’s fantasy elements justifies the quickness. And while Futaba leaving her home is a strange move, I still think her full recovery showcased in her bonding scenes makes sense. She sets reasonable goals for herself. She doesn’t take on too much all at once. Futaba surrounds herself with a support system as she tries. It’s stunning how healthy it is.

All in all, Futaba Sakura is one of the most interesting characters to come from Persona 5. Her writers and creators knew what they wanted her to be and knew exactly how to portray the heavy topics of PTSD, agoraphobia and metal illness. I think that Futaba’s transitions from unhealthy to healthy are great examples others with mental illnesses should use as a template to help them understand what true recovery means. As long as they know that Phantom Thieves can’t make everything go away instantly.

It’s not an easy task living with a mental illness, but Futaba can help you understand that it doesn’t mean you cannot live. You can get better. You can be free.


Thanks to everyone for supporting NWG. Until we meet again!

 

Mod Aria’s Most Anticipated August Game Releases!

Mod Aria’s back! It’s that time of the month; where I divulge into some great new upcoming titles for all gamers to check out! We’re still pretty deep into the dry season of gaming, but that certainly does not mean you have to wait for fall to play some awesome new video games!

Let’s see what’s in store:

Game Number 1: Agents of Mayhem 

Agents of Mayhem is a new action adventure game created by the developers and publishers of the Saints Row series. The game is set in a futuristic Korea and is considered a spin-off to the original Saints Row games. Like the Saints Row games, Agents of Mayhem will be an open world experience with a ton of quirk to it.

There are twelve playable unique characters that the player can select to take on the various missions in the game. All have power sets and abilities individual to them, so it’ll be fun to make your own perfect team. However, the characters must be unlocked via completing specific missions. But there is also a campaign for the player to follow, as well as missions for the player to learn more about each playable character. This sounds like Deep Silver’s attempt to make something similar to Overwatch, but possibly a bit more funny.

Honestly, we love the Saints Row games here at NWG, so we have a lot of faith in a spin-off game developed and published by the same team. The game is bound to be quite hilarious as well as interesting. Since the logo for M.A.Y.H.E.M also resembles the Saints Row symbol, I’m certain there are bound to be tons of references to the franchise within Agents of Mayhem. Any Saints Row fan should definitely give this game a chance.

Agents of Mayhem drops for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on August 15th in North America

Game Number 2: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle 

The next large Nintendo title after Splatoon 2, and a game that literally no one could have predicted. Nintendo teams up with unlikely partner Ubisoft to create a fusion of Mario and the popular Rabbids from the Rayman series. What exactly is this game?

Mario Rabbids (as I call it) is a turn based RPG, and is the closest thing we’ve gotten to a traditional Mario RPG in quite some time. The game is also tactical, so using the environment in combat is essential. Mario is also not the only character from his franchise to appear; Yoshi, Peach and Luigi team up with some Rabbids to fix the mess that resulted in the merging of their dimensions. This is certainly not a paragraph I ever thought I would be writing, but after last year, nothing really surprises me anymore.

A fun feature in this game is that it’s got local co-op, which means its a good game for the kids to finish out the summer playing before being carted back to school. If you’re not that young, you might just enjoy the wackiness of Mario meeting the Rabbids. Or maybe you’re waiting for Super Mario Odyssey to come out and you need your Mario fix. Regardless, I definitely think this game is worth a shot. Despite the wary feedback, I usually have faith in Nintendo to produce something great. I’ll give Mario Rabbids the benefit of the doubt for now.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle releases world wide for Nintendo Switch on August 29th.

Game Number 3: Sonic Mania

This is one of the most anticipated games of this year, and for a good reason. Sega has teamed up with indie devs Headcannon and PagodaWest games to celebrate Sonic’s 25th birthday by releasing Sonic Mania, both a remake and a remaster at the same time.

Sonic Mania is a remastered version of the Genesis Sonic titles; these titles are heralded as the best installments that the Sonic franchise ever had. Not only have all the old Sonic games been remastered for current generation consoles, but new stages have been developed for the game as well. It’s quite clear that these games have been giving a lot of care and attention, as the developers were brought onto the project due to their work on fan-made Sonic mods.

The gameplay of the Sonic Genesis titles has been preserved, so there shouldn’t be anything too surprising about the game. There have been some new enemy additions alongside the new levels, and some of the new levels are actually redone levels from previous Sonic games to fit the atmosphere. Many, I’m sure, think that Sonic Mania will be the full revival of the 2D Sonic games, and I cannot say I disagree. In comparison to the mediocrity of the 3D Sonic titles, this is the first Sonic game that I have seen the community actually excited for in so long.

This game along with Sonic Forces, the next 3D Sonic, were both teased last year; I’m uncertain of which one will end up getting a thumbs up from both critics and gamers. While 2D Sonic games are highly praised, will Sonic Mania be able to recapture the magic like so many other companies have tried and failed to do? Will Sonic Forces be yet another disappointment added to the pile of 3D Sonics? Who can say? But I’m very interested to find out what happens.

Sonic Mania releases for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC on August 15th in North America.

And this list is complete! That’s all for August. Did I get the game you were hyped for, or did I miss it? Let us know which games you’re looking forward to. And please continue to support NWG. Have a great day!

Character Spotlight: Kairi from Kingdom Hearts with Mod Loser!

Hey there, Nasties! It’s Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me. And this Character Spotlight will be discussing a character that really grinds my gears! That character is Kairi from Kingdom Hearts. I’m certain that the initial backlash to this statement will be great, but allow me to explain why Kairi’s character irks me so badly.

We’ve said it about multiple characters, and it applies here as well: Kairi is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She has barely any personality whatsoever other than smiling and wanting to see Sora and Riku, everything she does simply acts as motivation for the two boys, and her very existence is only to act as a plot point for Sora and Riku to chase after in the majority of the games.

A stellar example is Kingdom Hearts 1 where, quite literally, there is a scene where Sora sees Kairi in front of a portal. She calls out “Sora!” in a very melancholic, monotonous manner, before quickly being sucked into the portal, making Sora angry.  There was no actual dialogue, no evident threat, Kairi only appeared there in that very moment to motivate Sora and move the plot along.

Similar situations, unfortunately, occur in Kingdom Hearts 2. Once again, Kairi exists as a method to move the plot forward even near the end of the game when Riku makes his appearance. She approaches Riku, currently in a black cloak, and asks if it really is him. The hood of the cloak comes down to reveal Ansem’s face, yet clearly being controlled by Riku. Any character could have made that reveal, but Kairi had already been shoe horned into the love interest slot, and as such was used to create an “emotional moment.”

Kairi has potential, but ultimately it has been wasted. What do you think, Nasties? How do you feel like Square Enix could have taken better advantage of Kairi’s character to make her something great? Tell us in the comments below!

This has been Mod Loser–Jackie, whatever you want to call me–signing off!

Top 5 Best: Multiplatform Games with Mod Loser!

Hey there, Nasties! It’s Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me. And today, we’re getting into multiplatform games! Third party titles can make or break a system just as much as not having good first party ones can, so let’s all get to the meat of the top 5 Multiplatform Third Party games!

Number 5: Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

A fantastic RPG for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC gamers, as well as my favorite elder scrolls game of all time. I adored that Oblivion had a heavy emphasis on an extreme amount of quests that actually felt pretty varied with their goals, as well as a lengthy and interesting main plot line.

What always drew me into Oblivion for replay value were quests with multiple endings given the choices you made, a Fame-and-Infamy meter that decided how the people around you viewed your character, and enchantment and spell creation. Making my own spells always felt too good! Most loyal Nasties know that I hate Skyrim, so I think its about time I give Oblivion the love that it deserves.

Number 4: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight has come to Nintendo Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, Ps4, PC, and Nintendo 3DS, and I absolutely adore the game. I may not have been very good at the first Shovel Knight, but Specter of Torment drew me in moreso than any indie game yet. A perfect mixture of what felt like Castlevania meets Mega Man. The combat was fluid and challenging, while the platforming was fun and fair.

Shovel Knight, Specter Knight, and Plague Knight may be indie games, but what I adore about them is that they have such broad appeal with tight gameplay that it was important to put them on every console possible. I firmly believe that anyone looking for some nostalgic gameplay or just a good action platformer should pick up this game immediately.

Number 3: Mass Effect 2

A game released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. Do I honestly need to sing the praises of Mass Effect 2 to anyone? This was, in my opinion, the best Sci-Fi RPG I have ever played in my life, and I thoroughly enjoyed Knights of the Old Republic. Mass Effect two had great controls, had a power system that added flavor to third person shooting, a character creator that was stellar for the era, and fantastic characters.

Mass Effect 2 kept me coming back over and over each time purely because of how much I loved the romance, the characters,and the multiple ways I could end the game. This game wasn’t perfect by any means, which I understand. But to this day, if anybody asks for a Sci-Fi game recommendation, Mass Effect 2 will be the first game I suggest.

Number 2: Dark Souls 3

Released on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. I adore Dark Souls; this isn’t anything new to our fans! I could sing the praises of this game for far too long, but suffice to say it’s a fantastic entry into the souls franchise, and from what I can tell, it has been a great starting point for many people. The story is fantastic and the gameplay tighter than ever, with weapon skills and the FP bar. I also found the DLC to be incredibly enjoyable; however, with the Fire Fades edition, you can now purchase the game together with the DLC. If you want to try a Dark Souls game, now is the time.

Number 1: Dragon Age Inquisition

Released on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. This is, without a doubt, my favorite Western RPG of all time. I could not accurately describe how much I adore Dragon Age Inquisition. With great Queer representation, so many amazing and depthy party members, massive worlds and areas to explore with great quests both side quests and main story, I don’t think I’ll love another western RPG as much as I have loved Dragon Age.

Unfortunately for myself, despite having the DLC, I have yet to play through it all which is a shame. Even so, just the core game was so long and enjoyable and intense; I would recommend this game to just about anybody who likes fantasy RPG’s. From killing dragons to slaying demons, get ready to lead the Inquisition.

Well Nasties, did you enjoy my list? How about you; what are your favorite multiplatform games that have been release? Tell us in the comments below your thoughts. 

This has been Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me, signing off!