Smooth Gaming: How Final Fantasy VIII Turned Me Into A Gamer

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Smooth Gaming‘ is a new column to ValueWalk which will discuss various aspects of the video game industry. From AAA titles, business aspects, and independent developers who often go under-reported. ‘Smooth Gaming’ will take a multi-pronged look at the world of gaming. This week we dive into my relationship with Final Fantasy VIII and some of my favorite games.

That’s right, one of the best selling PlayStation games of all-time turned me into a gamer. Beforehand, I was one of ‘those’ guys who would only play Madden and other sports console games. Luckily, I haven’t played that arcade style, unrealistic, and painfully watered down sports franchise in years. But, that’s another story for another time.

Early Days As A Gamer – Final Fantasy VIII Introduction

A friend of mine introduced me to Final Fantasy VIII, he even let me borrow his copy to give it a try. At this point, I had no idea what a Role Playing Game (RPG) and didn’t know what kind of fantasies they could tell. However, I was quickly sucked into Final Fantasy VIII’s detailed story-telling. Squall Leonhart, Rinoa Heartilly, and Quistis Trepe will forever stand out to me as characters which helped me develop a love for narrative stories in gaming. Also, how could anyone forget the epicness of the Lunar Cry (what a sight it would be to see that played out on next-gen consoles).

While we’re on Final Fantasy VIII, it is definitely one of my favorite franchises, and I have countless memories playing many of those games. Yet, Final Fantasy VIII isn’t the only video game franchise I have fond memories of, yet it is the one that opened the door opening my eyes to a non-sports gaming experience.

For return readers of Smooth Gaming, you will remember my column on Total War: Three Kingdoms.

The Total War franchise is a far different experience than Final Fantasy, but it fed my curiosity concerning history, warfare, and how the two overlap. From the days of Shogun: Total War and Rome: Total War, to the modern entries of the franchise — Creative Assembly continues to deliver a playable game. While there have been bugs in the past, they have often been corrected, keeping the franchise from developing a bad reputation.

New Gaming Habits beyond Final Fantasy VIII

BioWare is responsible for two of my other favorite gaming franchises, Mass Effect and Dragon Age have the ability to take players away into a unique world. While both franchises have made several major mistakes concerning their narratives (Dragon Age 2) and peculiar choices made by the developers (Mass Effect 3), both franchises remain a favorite of mine. When Garrus Vakarian is a supporting character, you can look past some mistakes.

Over the past several years I have begun playing a lot more games from independent developers. The amazing story told in Life is Strange instantly made it a favorite of mine and has developed a cult following of its own.

This Is the Police franchise is available on Steam and is the best police simulator (ish) style I have come across. It does a great job of showing how corruption can poison law enforcement, how officers make difficult choices while introducing real-life storylines gamers can relate to. The games are not perfect (I’m currently playing the second game in the series This Is the Police 2), but the Weappy Studio development team has it going in a great direction.

Sandbox games without a structured narrative aren’t usually my favorite, the in-development Kenshi (also on Steam) is a huge exception. Lo-Fi Games is putting together a game world which allows the player a slew of playstyle options across a fairly large map. I purchased the game while it was in early access several years back and it has changed a great deal during that time frame. Kenshi should be used as a template for how games of the type can evolve and become masterpieces.

There are a number of great games out there, next week I’ll talk about some popular games I would like to play.

What are your thoughts on Final Fantasy VIII? Tell us in the comments section!

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