Jan. 16th, 2017

rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
I played my sixth 30-minute session of Final Fantasy XV last night, and it did not go well. I'm having a lot of trouble with this game, which I'm afraid is indicative of my failure to adapt to modern gaming. The biggest problem I'm having is that the map works in a way that is not intuitive for me, and the text and maps in the official strategy guide are not in the least bit useful in helping me navigate. I'm getting lost a lot, especially when the game decides it's going to be night and I can't see anything.

FFXV is an action RPG, and combat moves extremely quickly. With four people and swarms of enemies, even the first several battles are chaotic, and the fact that the player needs to control the camera as well as Noct does not help. The entire screen is filled with rapidly shifting information, none of which I know how to process. Although you can pause the game, there's no way to slow down the battles, and they are brutal. In other words, the player is expected to start the game at a fairly high point on the learning curve.

(By the way, if your response to my admission of difficulty is "I'm not having trouble" or "my friends aren't having trouble" or "the Let's Play Youtuber I watch isn't having trouble," check yourself.)

After every battle, the game grades you on your performance. I wish you could turn this feature off, because it makes me feel awful about myself. Even worse, every time you rest for the night (which you need to do in order to tally your experience points and gain levels), the game grades you on how well your exploration went that day. Because I want to explore the map and am constantly getting lost, this makes me feel awful as well.

You suck, FFXV keeps telling me. You're barely passing. You're bad at playing this game. You're bad at games. What are you even doing.

A lot of the work I do in real life is invisible, and I don't typically get a lot of feedback, positive or otherwise. I also don't get much feedback from my creative work in fandom, which (as much as I would love to say that "I create for myself!") is also tough to handle. One of the reasons I play games is because I need to feel like I'm capable of accomplishing something. Even if it's just gaining a level or being told that I found 100% of a dungeon's treasure, I like to feel that I'm making progress.

The constant stream of negative feedback in FFXV is so hurtful and alienating, and I don't know why it has to be this way. I play Final Fantasy games to experience interesting stories and explore beautiful worlds while falling in love with quirky characters as I gradually customize their growth. If I wanted to play a hyperdrive murder simulator, I would choose another game. There are a lot of them out there!

Because FFXV is so stressful, I wind down from play sessions by playing other games, mainly Pokémon Sun and Link's Awakening. Go at your own pace. Take your time, both games say to me. You're doing great! It's not that the games aren't challenging, but rather that they're broad enough to accommodate diverse playstyles.

I'd like to advocate for "slow gaming," which I see as a more individualized and sustainable type of gaming. I'm going to need to think about what this means before I write more about it, but basically, I want to say that the style of gaming represented by FFXV should not be understood as normal or standard or something that anyone can enjoy.


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