[Final Fantasy XI] Being the new guy, I was eager this morning to sit down at my computer (the one I get paid to sit in front of and pretend that I am working at) and see if there were any comments. Lo and belhold, there were! I was prepared to soak up the love and adoration of my fan base, and embrace the kudo’s they were raining down upon me.
Then I woke up.
It appeared from the comments that the general problem with Final Fantasy XI is the grind. When one feels that the time input does not equal reward output in-game (there is probably some kind of scientific equation to be found here, if I understood equations or science). I hate to say this about my favorite game, but this is the state of nature in Vana’diel. FFXI is a grind. More grind than most MMO’s. The problem for me is that I love the grind, but this removes me from the perspective of other gamers (you know, like “normal people”) that don’t. We just can’t connect on the same level. So I engaged in some self-reflective thinking on the issue and even if I can’t justify the level of grind I was hoping to put some perspective for others as to why the grind exists.
The first thing to come to mind is that FFXI, unlike almost all other MMO’s currently available, has a truely international playerbase. More specifically, it is an MMO that was not designed with the American teenager in mind (can’t really think of a reason that is a bad thing). It was designed with the ravenously obsessed Japanese player in mind. I have heard that there may, in fact, be some cultural differences between Americans and the Japanese. There are somethings here that wouldn’t fly in Japan, and there are somethings there that, well, defy definition by American standards (although I have heard that Poki is yummy). The Japanese players enjoy a level of tedium in their games. Japanese games are generally longer, harder, and, by American standards, boring. That being said there are quite a few Americans that engage in, and thoroughly enjoy, these kinds of games. OCD has become a term of art in America, and these people would be the poster children. FFXI provides an opportunity to delve into a world of obsessive/compulsive behavior derived from a thousand years of neurotic and repressive Japanese social hierarchy.
FFXI definitely was not designed with the casual gamer in mind. The problem for me though is this: should an online game be designed for the casual gamer? At the current time, the game most designed with the casual gamer in mind is taking the world by storm. The latest I have heard is that Blizzard has enough people playing World of Warcraft to establish themselves as an independent nation-state and receive recognition by the United Nations. The problem with this is sustainability. The casual gamer not only plays less frequently than the normal MMO gamer, but is also more likely to permanently leave an MMO. I am not trying to doomcast WoW, more explaining the staying power of FFXI. FFXI continues to expand, but this is not observed by those that don’t cover the game or have left the game. FFXI can not capture all the gamers in the world, but for the ones they do catch, SquareEnix has sunk their hooks deep.
But I suppose this is all metacommentary at best, a useless waxing of my superior obsession. I mean, how can you not enjoy repetitively slaughtering the same innocent Couerls for hours on end? Wait, don’t answer that question.