Those who know me probably understand the level of obsession I have Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series. I have a North American collection of the original games (and more), including the recently obtained original Final Fantasy for the NES. Behold, a very nerdy, obsessive collection of games and other goodies:

Photo of Final Fantasy Games and Items
The top shelf of my collection.
A photo of the bottom half of the shelf of Final Fantasy titles
The bottom half of my collection.

…But if you want a full list of the physical copies of Final Fantasy titles just to see the extent:

The grand physical list of procured FF titles

  • I (NES Edition)
  • I and II: Dawn of Souls (GBA)
  • I and II (PSP)
  • Origins (PlayStation)
  • III (DS)
  • Mystic Quest
  • III (SNES)
  • II (SNES)
  • IV (DS)
  • IV: The Complete Collection (PSP)
  • Chronicles (PlayStation)
  • Anthology (PlayStation)
  • V (Game Boy Advance)
  • VI (Game Boy Advance)
  • VII (PlayStation)
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
  • Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation 2)
  • VIII (PlayStation)
  • IX (PlayStation)
  • X (PlayStation 2)
  • X-2 (PlayStation 2)
  • X/X-2 (Nintendo Switch)
  • XI (Xbox 360)
  • XI (PC)
  • XII (PlayStation 2)
  • XII: Revenant Wings (Nintendo DS)
  • XII: Zodiac Age (PlayStation 4)
  • XII: Zodiac Age (Nintendo Switch)
  • XIII (Xbox 360)
  • XIII-2 (Xbox 360 CE)
  • Lightning Returns (PlayStation 4 CE)
  • Type-0 (PlayStation 4 CE)
  • XIV 1.0 (PC, CE)
  • XIV A Realm Reborn (PlayStation 3, PC)
  • XIV: Heavensward (PC, CE)
  • XIV: Stormblood (PC)
  • XIV: Shadowbringers (PC, CE)
  • XV (PlayStation 4, CE)
  • Tactics (PlayStation)
  • Tactics Advance (Game Boy Advance)
  • Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (Game Boy Advance)
  • Fables: Chocobo Tales (Nintendo DS)
  • Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon (Nintendo Wii)
  • Crystal Chronicles
  • Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates
  • Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
  • Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP)
  • Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy (PSP)
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (PlayStation 4)
  • The 4 Heroes of Light (Nintendo DS)
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (Nintendo 3DS)
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (Nintendo 3DS)
  • Explorers (Nintendo 3DS)
  • World of Final Fantasy (PlayStation 4)

And pretty soon, Crystal Chronicles Remastered and Final Fantasy VII Remake (Seriously, have you seen the box art for it? March 3 2020 can’t come soon enough!).

By the way, we’re not delving into my digital collection or the memorabilia consisting of Final Fantasy goodies – the list would become incredibly lengthy. Either way, there’s a reason for this obsessive collecting.

Oh my, why would you collect all this like a fervent beast!?
This is what I ask myself occasionally.

The series essentially saved my life. While we hear all the time of the issues video games pose, hardly anyone talks enough about how they present the opposite effect. So today, I’m going to talk about the reasons why the Final Fantasy series have helped me throughout my life while sneaking in a few personal details (not too detailed, mind you).

Final Fantasy gave me heroes to look up to

Final Fantasy was the sharpest blade I could wish for whenever I was kicked down.

Nearly everyone has heroes to look up to when they were growing up. It might have been Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, Han Solo, Ironman, Jack Sparrow, Bruce Lee, or even Will Smith. It might have been video game characters like Sonic, Mario, Master Chief, or Lara Croft.

My icons were a few Final Fantasy characters. Initially, it was Celes from Final Fantasy VI. Then, Tifa from Final Fantasy VII.

A Wikia picture of Celes Chere FFVI

Growing up, I was incredibly attached to Tifa – she the heroine I looked up to and strived to become (alongside Kid from Chrono Cross). After all, she was not only strong, well-trained in martial arts, but also nurturing and deeply empathetic. Sure, I idolized several other characters – Freya from IX or Meliadoul from Tactics – but Tifa was the epitome of strength.

Not a single obstacle would stop her – she’d crush them, no matter the difficulty. And though she pined for Cloud Strife, the game’s protagonist, she allowed that love to strengthen her rather than weaken. For those reasons, she was my childhood hero. And I seriously believed I could be like her when I grew up.

I’ll admit it – like many who immerse themselves in the series, I do face internal struggles daily due to my past. I won’t go into specifics, but Final Fantasy gave me heroes to idolize and become more like them growing up.

Whenever I had a really bad day as a kid, I would think of being in the world banding together with Tifa and the rest of Avalanche. It 100 percent cheered me up. But long story short, I adopted the mindsets from those I idolized to get me through each day.

Screenshot of quake 3 being used and glitching out in Final Fantasy VII.
Glitch pic, just because it is interesting to see!

My reading comprehension and writing abilities improved thanks to the series

My reading comprehension and understanding of vocabulary improved substantially thanks to games like Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. I remember reading the instruction booklet for Final Fantasy VII and learning the words optimistic and decimate when reading Tifa’s profile back when I was 10. Of course, I had to show that off to my classmates for some embarrassing reason, but enough about that.

The point is I was able to gain a vast comprehension of storytelling thanks to not only school but also Final Fantasy.

I owe this career to Final Fantasy

I gained a substantial amount of experience reading and writing over the years, but my love for Final Fantasy bled onto assignments. There were numerous English and creative writing papers – I truly mean numerous that borrowed from the world of Final Fantasy.

At the risk of dying from embarrassment, here is proof: A short Final Fantasy VIII fanfic I wrote when I was 12 that revolved around Trick-or-Treating.

Of course, I also spent close to five years working on a Final Fantasy-inspired story that never came to fruition because my English understandably improved after age 12.

The point is, I’ve been writing since I was really young – at least writing short stories as of the age of eight. I didn’t realize it at the time that writing was my passion. I thought art was, though I didn’t put remotely the amount of effort into art as I did into writing, now that I think on it…

Floundering around post-college

After college, I couldn’t successfully land a job related to my field of Arts Administration, no matter how hard I tried – I even received help on my resume, interviewed for several positions (we’re talking over a dozen). I stuck with my internship a little longer than originally anticipated, hoping it would grant me enough experience, and I couldn’t find a single job in my area.

In my spare time, I wrote a lot of fictional stories in various formats – long-form, short-form, poetry, etc. I also played a lot of Final Fantasy XIV, which debuted in 2010. Despite its negative reception, lag, etc., it not only helped me pass the time but also helped me cope with my unfortunate luck.

A screenshot from Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 involving an Apkallu
Old friends, unfortunately, come and go, but the memories will always be there.

One day it occurred to me while I was writing another story inspired by my dreams. Why don’t I try writing for a living? So, I went to grad school (which I won’t delve into here), got my Masters degree, all while deciding my future career path: a journalist. Particularly a game journalist working for a big name company.

Well, time passed and now I’m actually writing for a law firm and various other clients. Game journalism is just a part-time endeavor at this point. What happened?

I’m not sure, but I’m writing. And I’m writing thanks to Final Fantasy.

Budgeting in the games made me fairly financially savvy

I’m sure plenty of you RPG fans recall playing these games that you were trying to save up for that awesome weapon after realizing you’re short 5,000 gold pieces or gil. Fortunately for me, it somehow translated to the real world. Saving for a major purchase became commonplace; yet, I went a little overboard with the endeavor, becoming a little restrictive with savings.

At 11, I had my first experience with entrepreneurship. I remember being obsessed with Final Fantasy VIII at the time, as was my brother (though you wouldn’t guess seeing him today). I believed I struck a goldmine when I thought, “Hey, let’s bring Triple Triad to school!”

It didn’t pan out as well as I hoped…

I thus managed to convince my grandmother and my little brother to spend an afternoon helping out with the printing and cutting out of Triple Triad cards from some fan site before pasting them onto poster board.

My brother and I would then distribute these cards to peers at the price of anywhere between $0.10 to $1, depending on the rarity. Of course, the principal found out and told us to give back the money because that money just so happened to be lunch money that belonged to them. That was certainly a major “whoops” moment for myself, considering I also dragged my brother into the fiasco.

Final Fantasy XIV, in particular, led the path of my young adult years

Final Fantasy XIV may have just recently become my favorite of the series thanks to the Shadowbringers storyline (though Yotsuyu’s and the Garlean Empire’s storyline in Stormblood really impacted me in a personal way), but it stands in a corner of its own in my heart.

I’ve played this game for nigh 10 years, ever since the launch of 1.0 back in 2010. There are people playing that game now who are the same age I was back when I first played this. It’s amazing to see time fly just like that.

But throughout the decade of playtime, a multitude of events occurred:

  • Met my significant other
  • Met some fellow warriors of light who I would call family – one of whom is close
  • Dropped toxic people like a sack of potatoes
  • Moved eight times
  • Advanced my career
  • Started my own freelancing career

It’s been a tough road but it’s been worth it

To think, I was utterly lost like most young adults. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life after graduating from college. I just waded through the days, trying whatever path I could apply myself to.

But ultimately, Final Fantasy XIV changed my life. It’s been worth the $10 per month charged to my Square Enix account.

I wouldn’t be where I am now, nor who I am now, had it not been for that game. FFXIV provided me with friends and loved ones I desperately pined for – those who I could call family.

I gained insight into the world at an early age thanks to the themes

A lot of people say, “The world view is much more innocent when you’re a child.” It is vast, and you’re only exposed to the horrors in front of you. But Final Fantasy can expose one to more. Espionage, politics, war, betrayal, war, more war, even more war…

I just realized most Final Fantasy titles involve war for one reason or another.

Love, friendship, death, existentialism, defiance, identity, destiny, rebellion, purpose, time, loss, freedom, redemption… these are just common themes discovered in Final Fantasy titles, and for me personally, they helped me understand all that could happen in the world at a young age.

Video games can protect and save many lives

There were a lot of influences Final Fantasy, as a series, instilled in me as a child. I used those tools to deal with the stresses I faced. There are many people who say that video games just cause violence and death – despite the myriad of reports that prove otherwise – but as anecdotal evidence, video games – at least a particular JRPG (Japanese role playing game) series, saved my own life, allowing me to combat my PTSD, depression, etc.

On this day, my top five favorite Final Fantasy titles are Shadowbringers, VI, IX, VII, and Tactics.

And I’m 100 percent certain others feel the same with the video games they grew attached to.

Do you mind sharing your story? If you feel like sharing how video games – or even Final Fantasy in particular – have helped you in your life, feel free to use the comment section below.

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Leave a comment



Emily

2 months ago

Gosh, reading this hit so hard. Like, the emotion attached behind it all just hit really close to home.

Just like how you describe looking up to Tifa, I always had Aeris as my hero in much the same way. I always saw her as so compassionate, loving, and so cheerful despite all the bad happening around them. Every time something got hard in my life, I’d think to myself “I want to be that beacon of light. I want to be cheerful even when things are hard, and I want to make the world just a little bit brighter.”

It has helped me get out of so many dark moments in my life, helped me climb through some of my worst times with depression, and even to this day I still use her as an example of how I want to be, using that as fuel for me to strive to be better.

This whole article hits so close to home, but having Tifa as your hero really stuck out to be in particular because of the strength that Aeris has given me.

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