Square-Enix: The Dream is Dead

Christ on a cracker.

Oh, Square. I don’t even know anymore.

You guys were given all the time in the world. All the development resources, all the A-list talent, all the designers, illustrators, artists and programmers you could ever want at your disposal, and what have you turned out in the last decade?

A game so bad it wrecked the reputation of the Final Fantasy brand – considered the unassailable bastion of Japanese RPGs. The pissing away of a pedigree so valuable that merchandise of any sort commanding the iconography from games they made decades ago still demands premium prices. Once respected industry leaders and the pride of Japan, Square-Enix have become a joke to their once-loyal fans worldwide. These same fans have long since moved onto other things, like jobs and families and lives of their own.

The last decade in video game development – the seventh generation of video game console hardware – will be remembered for a game industry grown bloated, arrogant, and fat, giving rise to the worst kind of business practices. But I will remember it for the death of Japanese video game development, and the snubbing of an established truth that I had long since proclaimed as gospel: that Japan made the best video games in the world. I will remember it for the loss of faith I had in Square to make games of any sort.

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Why I Feel Bad For, And Understand, Devin Faraci

This is written in response to Devin Faraci’s extremely patronizing but well-meaning article, which can be found here. Any comments about the Chinese copying shit are very much appreciated, because we are so very damn good at it and we’d like some kudos for that.

Double disclaimer: this was actually written last week when I discovered the original article, and as such some of the timings referred to are no longer valid (weeks, etc.). Any information that has been revealed over the last week is therefore not referred to in this piece. If Devin Faraci would be willing to start a rational and non-hostile dialogue with me, that would be wonderful. The offer for beer and videogames does actually still stand.

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Shown here is the fictional character Mort, from Gunshow’s Anime Club comics. It was, at one time, a far more accurate depiction of me than I would care to admit.

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Damned Audience Part 3: Gamers and the Argument for Change

I hate the word ‘gamer’.

I do this not because of the multitude of unsavoury associations the word brings, but it merely states that to participate in a medium is to give yourself a title, to set yourself apart. This nebulous group is near-impossible to define; by its broadest definition (people who play games), it proves to be more divisive than inclusive in a manner not unlike children picking teams on the local schoolyard – only people the group has through a rigorous hazing process or social groupthink deemed worthy are granted the label.

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Damned Audience Part 2: The Man and Demographics

I’ve recently taken up work as an editorial assistant in the marketing division of one of Hong Kong’s companies. They make premium kitchen appliances that are absolutely the bees’ knees, and I’m not saying that because I’m paid to lie.

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I figure this is as good a time as any to discuss what the industry – the non-pundit-side of the industry at least (i.e. not those wretched, pitiable beings we call games journalists) means when it uses the word audience.

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Damned Audience Part 1: Games Journalism

Audience is a tricky word. Where literature is concerned, “audience” means the reader. There are entire libraries of literary theory on the relationship between the reader and the writer, and how they engage with each other. Multiple readings of masterworks have been sustained as part of an ongoing discourse as to the nature of these relationships.

I consider it a great shame that the petabytes of critique penned by intelligent people about video games so often neglects these relationships. We’ve taken great strides when it comes to writing about videogames, to be sure. “New Games Journalism” is so old hat by now in internet years we can largely term all games journalism “New”. Soon we will move into the era of Neo-Games Journalism and Post-Games Journalism, or whatever these people decide to call whatever they write next. I’m hoping for Maximum Games Journalism instead, because it gives me the wonderful mental image of chipmunks strapped into the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles, hooked to typewriters and dosed with intravenous bottles of Lucozade.

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