Hey ya’ll, while I was thinking of blog topics for this week I was a bit stumped. I have a bunch of half ideas that I don’t feel exceptionally strongly about so I got to thinking of a possible topic, and one game and one idea kept coming back to me. The game is Final Fantasy V and the topic is party construction and customization. You see, FFV was the first game in the series that I played that featured FF’s iconic job system. The job system lent that game a level of gameplay freedom and personal choice that was staggering for me to grasp at the time. Not only could you pick which character archetype you wished a character to be, you could also mix and match abilities across jobs: allowing each party member to be truly unique. I always attempted to create teams that were a mix of effective and interesting, often erring to the side of interesting when the two were at odds. I largely used eclectic mixes of character types such as beast masters, geomancers, and time mages (not exactly the standouts of the Final Fantasy franchise). Those were my preferred teams and if you asked me I would say that those are the best classes to use in the game. However, I think that my choices less reflect the inherent shape of the game’s power structure, and more my own values and priorities. For example, I valued that the geomancer and beast master classes had abilities that did not cost mp, but did comparable damage to more straight forward characters like summoner and black mage. Now my choices were also less reliable than the more conventional character classes; however, I realized that I personally love exploiting free resources and strategies that I think are novel or obscure.
I noticed that my party choices in just about every game I have ever played follow a similar pattern. I used an infiltrator specializing in AI hacking (gaining temporary party members? Yes please!) in Mass Effect and prioritized biotics in my team mates, largely forgoing guns beyond the occasional sniper shot. I thought that stealing characters and using “tricky” spells would be better than just shooting guns. My party of choice in FF9 was Zidane, Freya, Amarant, and Garnet. In this case I chose a dragoon/red mage, ninja/samurai/monk, theif, and summoner/white mage and left out the two most obviously powerful characters in the game: Vivi and Steiner (each of them can deal max damage every turn without much trouble). In this case I appreciated the versatility of Garnet, Freya, and Amarant over the clear damage potential of Vivi and Steiner. In Street Fighter 4 I play Hakan because I love his oil mechanic and I love the surprise on my opponent’s face when a red, oily man is flying at them. I know he isn’t the best character in the game, but I love to think that I know something about him that my opponent doesn’t. I always pick characters or abilities that I perceive to be undervalued, clever, or efficient in some way. Therefore, I think that I am at least subconsciously stating my own beliefs and values through how I select and build characters in games. I value exploiting untapped resources, looking at things in a slightly different way than others, and sometimes I just value being unique over being effective. While I thought I was just creating characters and playing games, I have also been painting a picture of how I see myself and see the world around me.
Now with all of that said, I wonder if those of you in the GB community have noticed similar patterns in your playstyles. How do you define yourself through your playstyle?