On Magic, Love, and Moogles
So the day has finally come. The day when, as some more cynical individuals may say, we grant attractive people gifts in exchange for sexual favors. Most of us just call it Valentineís Day and some of us treat it as a special day when we celebrate that crazy little thing called love. But did you know February 14th is also the day Final Fantasy Tactics was released in Japan? Yes, this game turns 13 today. I feel old.
I played this game very many years ago, back when I was still a kid, and I was already quite appreciative of it. But it wasnít until recently when my wife played FFTA that I noticed may have much more to do with Valentineís Day than is initially apparent. I have this theory that every Final Fantasy at least, if not every JRPG (or we could even go even broader than that, but Iím not that bold), is in essence about love. Or at the very least, love is to some degree important to the experience, if not to the plot.
So starting at the text level, we have Marche being primarily motivated by a love of some kind. There is no romantic love in this game, as these are all little kids, but Marche is indeed driven by a strong feeling. Iíd digress a little bit here and turn to the original FFT, another Matsuno game, where the final chapter is titled ďIn the Name of LoveĒ even though the title may seem totally random at first, if not incredibly tragic, considering the fate of Ovelia. Iím talking about that game because, though of different ages and inhabiting different time periods, Ramza and Marche are effectively the same character. They showcase agape love, the love for the world. Both are trying to break through a web of lives so that the world can be free. In Marcheís case, this means he has to sacrifice his own enjoyment of this magical, fantastical world, as well as the favor of his friends, in order to restore the world to its rightful place. Itís a difficult, sacrificial love, but it is undeniably an act of love. If not for love for the world, the people, and reality, then for the love he has for his friends and his crippled brother.
Yes, Ritz and Mewt feel better in this new world, and Doned can actually walk here, but Ramza doesnít give up, even though they try to stop him. Because Marche loves his brother and his friends, he cannot just stand by and watch them succumb to a world that may grant them superficial happiness, but in the end is not real. A true friend doesnít simply pat their friends on their heads when they indulge in destructive behaviors. He has to make a tough decision to really save them from a predicament they may not even be aware of. Now if that isnít some form of true love, then I donít know what is.
The game is also about love in a very meta sense. My wife only first played this game a couple of months ago, as an adult. Obviously, her experience was different. While she also enjoyed the complexity of the story, she was much more engrossed with the job system (which she of course easily took apart within a week). She carefully tweaked all her little units, mixing and matching jobs and abilities, recognizing them by their randomly generated names. Maybe love is a strong word, but she definitely formed an attachment to her characters. Which is, in a way, heartwarming.
Still, in a way, as a bunch of nerds, we were brought together here because a love for games. And Iím serious Ė this is also a real, pure form of love. We enjoy something so much we think spending time just talking about it all the time is worthwhile. In a way, it complements our lives, and meeting other people with similar interests that will get just as excited about it as you is a way of spreading love. The couple that games together, stays together, as they say, and itís true, as my wife and I have both loved games for a very long time. Now itís one of many topics we keep talking about, which really helps you feel like youíre connected with someone.
So whether youíre single or married or seeing someone, you can be sure you are never alone. Video games help spread love too. Even if theyíre ultimately not real, like Marcheís Ivalice, the relationships you form through them, are. And I think thatís one of the most valuable lessons a game has ever taught me.