[ return : true ]

to find what we couldn't find. . .

square tv crews.

does that give you some idea of the scope of the event? square taping for release to national media. most of what they did was pick obsessive but normal-looking people out, ask them about how long they'd played final fantasy, what they thought of the series, their comment on the new game, filming them all the while.


the venue.

the most amazing i've ever seen. a veritable temple of sony-worship. playstation @ metreon, san francisco, ca.

they roped off a section of demo consoles, four on a side. eight people could play at once around a counter shaped like an ellipse cut in half. the entire place was a madness of lights, cameras, and people in ff9 shirts. black for staff, orange for gamers.

the first hundred people got a bag with a t-shirt, 3 gaming magazines, and the complete FF VIII soundtrack. i was maybe number 33, after nearly two hours of being in line. it was okay. at the end of our session, they had us put on our new bright-orange t-shirts and wave for the cameras.

not as large a crowd as there might have been. almost certainly not so many as square predicted. still huge.

a lot of them had played the game through already. most of those couldn't read japanese. otaku are scary. dedicated, though. some had played every final fantasy released in either the u.s. or japan, for every platform. i hadn't even known that they made final fantasy for the game boy, much less three of them!

nice people. informative people. scary, but only as regarded the object of their obsession.

i am not a gaming otaku. what they said. . . i thought i could understand it, but i knew i would never see clearly what they meant. i suffered from some deafness that kept me from perceiving the world they moved in with complete freedom.

5-minute game demo. they meant it. after 5 minutes they gave us our bags, filmed us waving, and motioned the next group in. i'm not very good at games. . . i'm afraid i wasted a lot of time walking around and figuring out the buttons. it looked pretty good, i confess.

i said it looked, graphically, like the culmination of rpgs for the playstation. i also said that i'd said that before, and that i had next to no idea what i was talking about. ask someone competent. it played well. square seems to be learning the ideal interface by experimenting with every final fantasy game. the learning curve for basic controls is next to nil, at least judging by my 5 minutes.

and so. . .

it was an event. a final fantasy event. i felt that i had been asleep while square evolved into something beyond belief, beyond traditional ideas of meaning. it just is, now. squaresoft is a conglomeration of so many different varieties of skill and so many distinct approaches to the rpg that their every action affects gamers just as microsoft affects windows users.

they are a rare company, what in the old days would have been called a category-killer. first they took the genre of rpgs and made it their own, and now they seem determined to change the genre beyond recognition. there's an element of nobility in it, a nobility that reflects the best in final fantasy characters. sometimes i wonder whether square, in making squall realise that he needed the help of his companions, was making a subtle joke.

and remember another joke, less subtle. . . ?

the world is square.