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!

Top 5 Best: Final Fantasy Protagonists With Mod Aria!

Mod Aria’s back! I decided that this week’s Top 5 would be some more Final Fantasy indulgence. I myself am a big fan of the series and have played so many of the titles. I’m serious. Every game from FF7 through FF15. Except for FF11 of course. I’ve also played the Dissidia games, FF4, FF1 and FF6, FF10-2, every FF13 installment, even some of the mobile games! While I’ve not played every game, I think it’s fair for me to say which Final Fantasy protagonists I think are the best of the best. So I hope you come along on this ride with me!

For clarification: These are characters that would be considered the “main characters”; the ones who you play as and control. Non-playable party members will not be included here. That’s a Top 5 for another day!

#5 — Squall Leonheart from Final Fantasy VIII

While the gameplay leaves much to be desired (you can beat the game from starting level really. All you need is Squall’s ultimate weapon. I’ve seen it done), the plot of Final Fantasy VIII is one of the most heart-trending of the franchise. And you will be hard-pressed to find a Final Fantasy with such great party cohesion and affection. I always enjoy it when the party members of a RPG actually love and support each other, so Final Fantasy VIII’s party will always be one of my favorites. But let’s focus now on how amazing Squall is.

Squall is a great protagonist because of how drastically he changes in the narrative of Final Fantasy VIII. While it does take Rinoa, Squall’s love interest and Manic Pixie, to ignite the change in Squall, he does a lot of it through his connection to Laguna as well as helping his friends. He goes from a stoic, emotionless fleshbag to a young man who cares for his most precious people. And I think that part of character development has pretty much disappeared from mainstream games. But, thankfully, a dynamic character has not completely vanished.

All in all, Squall is great because his character was incredibly well written and he played off the rest of his party incredibly well. I really wish I could have seen Square Enix expand on the story of Final Fantasy VIII. Maybe one day!

#4 — Zidane Tribal from Final Fantasy IX

Zidane is one of my favorite main characters from a Final Fantasy, and FF9 is my favorite Final Fantasy of all time. One of the reasons is that Zidane was the first Final Fantasy game I played with a protagonist that smiled and liked having fun. I feel like XI is an underrated game; it came out so close to FF10 that it kind of got overshadowed. But I think those who haven’t played the game are missing out on something amazing. As well as a really entertaining protagonist.

Zidane is peppy, but he’s brave and clever. He knows how to get someone to like him, and he’s a confidant person. He’s got all the tropes of a guy you’d want to hate. But you don’t hate Zidane. You love him. You love him because of the hardships you watch him endure, as well as for his kindness towards his party members and friends. Zidane is kind even towards Kuja, one of the game’s main antagonists. Despite struggling with his own identity, he still manages to help suffering people remember that they are worthy of life.

The only downside to him is that he is a bit of a pervert. But he is a pervert with a heart of gold. I really would like to see Final Fantasy IX receive the love and care it deserves (to see Zidane get some better treatment), but who knows if that will happen. I’ll go on loving the game regardless!

#3 — Notics Lucis Caelum from Final Fantasy XV

If you’ve watched NWG’s first Feminism in Gaming, you’ll know that I think Noctis is a terrific character and that Final Fantasy XV is the best FF game to come out in years. But I’ll elaborate more on Noctis here than I will Final Fantasy XV itself. All I’ll say about the game is that, like FF8, the fact that Noctis is so close with the rest of the party and how amazing his relationship is with them. There are some really emotionally intense scenes between Noctis and his best bros, and I loved that so much because of how it defies toxic masculinity and develops Noctis as a character.

Noctis is a great character because he does experience some change in the course of the game, but he’s so refreshing in the fact that, despite is stereotypical edgy exterior, Noctis is a happy person, and intelligent person and free with is affections. It’s not often you see all three traits in a Final Fantasy protagonist. If they’re happy, they’re usually a bit slow or perverted. If they’re intelligent, they’re usually depressed or quiet. And if they’re free with their affections, they’re usually a flirt or considered “stupid”. Noctis destroys these stereotypes by loving his future wife (even if I think it’s too forced), supporting his friends and enjoying life.

Hopefully Square Enix will continue with the process of creating good main characters and work to improve their games even more. I think it’ll be a long time before we see Final Fantasy 16, but I can only hope the protagonist is as feminist as Noctis is.

#2 — Serah Farron from Final Fantasy XIII-2

Most people enjoy what Lightning brings to the FF13 table, but I have always preferred Serah as a protagonist. In the first FF13 game, I was much more attached to Snow and Serah’s story than I was any of the other characters, so I was incredibly glad to see Serah take the reigns in 13-2. It’s my opinion that the first Final Fantasy XIII should have been ditched (allowing 13-2 to be the core game and Lightning Returns to be 13-2), but I’ll save that opinion for another article.

It’s rare to see video games with a female protagonist, and it’s even rarer to see video games with a female protagonist that is allowed to own her femininity. I think to often we equate “tough” female protagonists with being “emotionless” and “angry”. This is done to rob a female protagonist of stereotypical feminine traits. It’s nice to see a break from stereotypes, don’t get me wrong. But forcing every female protagonist into that role isn’t true acceptance. It’s saying that females can only be protagonists if they subscribe to these “tough” qualities. Which is not true.

The only real downside is that Serah is not treated well in any Final Fantasy 13 installment; she is always used as a plotpoint and cannot control her own place in the series. But it is nice to see her be able to have her own story. Serah is a great protagonist because of her kindness towards Noel, her love for Snow and her sister as well as her bright and positive attitude. She is also not overly sexualized, which is even rarer for a good-natured female protagonist. It’s even more refreshing than Noctis. This is another trend that I hope is normalized in mainstream gaming.

#1 — Terra Branford from Final Fantasy VI

One of the most heated debates in the Final Fantasy fandom amongst veterans and newcomers is which game holds the title for “best Final Fantasy”: is it Final Fantasy VI or Final Fantasy VII? Personally, I enjoy Final Fantasy VI, but it’s not because I’m a fan of “old school Final Fantasy” or think the first five games are superior to every other. I like Final Fantasy VI because Terra is the best FF main character, hands down.

Terra not only happens to be a terrifically dynamic character, she is also incredibly powerful. She spends the majority of her game fighting for people who are suffering as well as protecting the people she came from. She struggles through the entirety of Final Fantasy 6 to learn what it is to feel. She herself is trapped by the people who sought to use her, and she is fiercely independent when she finally embraces herself. She is kind, but also willing to fight and protect the people she considers close. She is thoughtful and grows so much. Terra is just really…really great.

It is amazing to see a girl suffer so much and still achieve happiness, and it’s the kind of story that young girls and women need to see. Terra is the kind of main character that female gamers need. Her story ends happily, unlike Serah’s, and it’s that reason that Terra will always trump any other female protagonist in the Final Fantasy series to me. She is the most refreshing character despite her game being so old. I want another character like her; maybe Final Fantasy will deliver one day.

That’s all for this list. What are your thoughts? Do you think there are other great FF protags that I forgot or did not mention? Let me know; I’d love to talk about it with you!


Thanks for supporting NWG. Until we meet again!

Top 5 Best: MMOs with Mod Knight!

Hey everybody, Mod Knight here with another Top 5 list! Now, one thing I was never a fan of in the past were MMOs; however, recently I’ve begun to change my tune as I’ve begun dabbling in them more and more. So, lets take a look at the 5 I’ve enjoyed the most!

#5- World of Warcraft

One of the most popular MMOs of all time, WOW (as it’s called) still has a massive following despite it’s age! It set the standards for most modern MMOs; however, this unfortunately means that to the modern eyes, it plays a lot like many, many other RPGs. However, there has always been a consistent stream of updates and changes to try and keep the game feeling fresh!

#4- Wakfu

A french run MMO by the studio Ankama, released in 2012. The game differs from regular MMO gameplay in that it takes a return to turn based tactical RPG combat in which players must move their characters along a grid before choosing the power they wish to activate for their turn. The game is strongly community driven and actually has very little in the way of plot. This can be a major turn on or turn off to the game, so players who truly wish to get invested must be willing to join the community and play off of it.

#3-Warframe

This is one I’ve only played a bit, but already love! Warframe feels almost more like a shooter than an MMO, considered a “lobby MMO” in which players are matched up with either random or pre-built teams to take on a mission together, then return to the map. The game is broken up into levels; between which players have a chance to update their gear and equipment. One very cool feature about the game is the fact that different “Characters” can be played on the same account. This is because the different unlockable Warframes (basically battle armors) can be alternated between levels.

#2- Wizard 101

Yeah, I know it’s a kids game; however, you have to give KingsIsle credit. They know how to make a strategic battle game that stays fun even after years and years. Wizard 101 is a fairly standard MMO in which you travel between a hub world and various different monster filled areas, taking quests from NPCs and buying gear to upgrade your character. One deviation from the norm that I enjoy is the turn-based battle system; which is simple enough for children to understand, and deep enough for adults to enjoy! Between the various schools of magic, tons of gear and mounts, there is lots of room for customization and playing in a way that suits you!

#1- Final Fantasy 14

Final Fantasy 14 is a great game, with tons of customization options and a massive open world to explore! With there being so much to do the game might seem a bit overwhelming. Will you have to make new characters to experience the full story? Well…maybe? I couldn’t say. However, what I can say is that you most definitely don’t have to to get the full experience as EVERY single class can be leveled up to maximum by one character; meaning that you’re able to choose a style that truly suits you best in each situation! Not only that, but with a massive player base, you’ll never need to look too hard to find someone to help you out. Especially when high level players volunteer to help low levels get started!

–Mod Knight

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!

Nasty Discussion: Anticipated July Releases with Mod Aria!

Hello All Nasties! Mod Aria is back again to discuss anticipated video game releases! We’re fully entrenched in the dry season, and every online video game outlet is marking down a lot of the games that already released this year. However, I still think that there are some new games coming out that are certainly worth your time. Let’s check them out!

Game Number 1: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age.

Starting out this list actually not a new game, but a remaster. That would be Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. This remaster is a complete graphical update for the version of FFXII that only released in Japan called that had the International Zodiac Job System. It has also been given a trophy system.

Personally, I did not enjoy Final Fantasy XII, but the reason why I am anticipating it is that it might actually help me change my tone about the game. I found the battle system tedious and did not enjoy the majority of the characters, but I am always willing to give it another shot. I have not even heard of the Zodiac Job System, so I’m interested to see how that will change the game. The job system that was in the western version of the game was something I already enjoyed, but again, I’m always willig to try something new.

Mostly, I’m doing this for Balthier. Take me away, sexy sky pirate.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age releases worldwide on July 11th, 2017

Game Number 2: Collar x Malice

Being the otome game fan that I am, I had to include the big release for the summer. Aksys Games is localizing the mystery otome game Collar x Malice for PS Vita this month. And I am incredibly excited for this game.

The game is centered around a girl named Ichika (who is namable). She is a police officer who finds herself attacked one day, and she has a strange collar placed around her neck that is filled with poison. She then meets a group of former cops that are part of a covert organisation set to investigate a slew of violent crimes that have been labeled “The X Day Incident”. Ichika teams up with them, and is able to pursue romantic relationships with five potential suitors.

I had heard about Collar x Malice before Aksys had announced the game’s localization, so I was incredibly thrilled to see it getting an official translation. It is a game that is heavy with plot and sleuthing, so this game has the potential to be fun for anyone who enjoys a good cop mystery. Aksys has stated that the game’s theme is much darker than previous released otome games, so I’m suspecting some poignant endings and gruesome cases to solve. The art is also done by Mai Hanamura, who some otome fans might know from her work on the Amnesia series.  

While there has been no official release announced, it is rumored that Collar x Malice will release on July 28th, 2017 in North America.

Game Number 3: Splatoon 2

The last game on this list is the next big title from Nintendo, their sequel to the popular paint shooter Splatoon. Splatoon is not only a fun game,  but I find it so satisfying to watch the spread of the different colors around buildings and walls as you play. It’s strangely relaxing despite being competitive.

Splatoon 2’s story will likely continue off of the prologue series that Nintendo released about the popular sister squids, Marie and Callie. Though nothing has been officially confirmed yet. As for new features, there as been new weapons for every category (standard, sub and special) added to the game. Jetpacks, too. As for modes to play, Turf War and Hero mode are returning, and there will be some new modes to play as well. Salmon Run is an example of one, which is a team mode that lets you kill massive groups of enemies.

The gameplay is still primarily online, which is both fun and disappointing. I personally think that Splatoon had the potential to be a really fun couch multiplayer game, but the game just does not have a split screen feature. The game does have many online options (like a tournament mode), amiibo support and free DLC, however. So I can’t stay too mad about it.

Splatoon 2 releases worldwide for Nintendo Switch July 21st, 2017.

That’s all the games on my list for July! Did I get your favorite game this month? Or did I miss yours? Let me know in the comments what games you’re excited for so we can hype together. Happy Gaming!


Thanks for reading this and supporting NWG. Until next time!

–Mod Aria/Sam