Wednesday Column

1999-1: Final Fantasy VIII (Unpopular Opinions and the Gaming Community)

InfernalMage “The following is a contributor column by the Infernal Accountant Mage.”

In my opinion, Final Fantasy VIII is one of the best games in the series.

Just saying that might have set some people off. That’s fine. The gaming community is not one that’s known for dealing with minority opinions (or minorities in general) all that well. You either fall in with the party line on a given subject or you’ll face all the pedantic wrath of self-identifying gamers. Am I casting the net a bit wide here? Maybe. Over time, though, I’ve become more and more convinced that the kind of people who don’t behave this way don’t really interact with the culture at large at all – they self-select out, which in turn makes the culture even worse for their absence.

Don’t get me wrong: unlike our somewhat twitchy head honcho Well-Red, I’m not really in the business of caring about this kind of thing. In my view, that’s just how “Gamer Culture” is. It’s a foundational thing. We’re not going to see a more accepting culture until the current one’s long gone. Where Well-Red agonizes over every Twitter conflict to excess, I’m a fan of the idea that if someone says something noticeably dumb or makes a particularly large rear end of themselves, there’s a good chance they’ll never have anything valuable to contribute. You’re losing nothing by blocking and moving on – are you really going to miss xXGame_Snipa_69Xx? The best move might be to just move on from “Gamer Culture” altogether and shift to finding some friends to play stuff with.

With all that said, here are some minority opinions that I don’t bother expressing to self-identifying gamers because they’d probably upset them:


  • As mentioned, Final Fantasy VIII is a solid game and one of the better entries in the series. It dared to do a lot of things differently. Not all of it worked, but this level of audacious innovation coming from an established series was fascinating. It also toyed with some interesting ideas with regards to the setting and plot, though the lax localization standards of the era meant that it’s somewhat difficult to fully grasp what’s really going on. Other fantastic Final Fantasy games: XIII and XV.


  • The Witcher 3 is a prime example of quantity-over-quality game design. It’s a huge amount of fairly bland content that’s not very well-served by some questionable combat. It does improve as you go on, but it’s entirely possible and completely understandable that the first few agonizing hours might lead players to give it up.


  • A good Metal Gear game can absolutely be made without the involvement of Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Survive is a great example of that.


  • Microtransactions aren’t the worst thing in the world. If they were regulated, the results would almost certainly be worse than anything they solved.


  • Think of the publisher you most love to hate. Consider this: a single high-profile crowdfunding project has done more to harm consumers than anything they’ve done. Crowdfunding was only a marginally good idea to begin with and it’s rapidly turned into a shambling mockery of its former self, transforming blind optimism directly into cash. Likewise, Early Access schemes are iffy at best. The only alternative pricing scheme for games that seems beneficial to the people who buy and play them is the subscription model we’re seeing with Xbox Game Pass, but it’s unlikely that’s going to remain at the same level of quality for long.


  • If you really want to tell if a game is going to be worth playing or not, find out if the Internet hates it before they’ve had a chance to play it. Solid examples of this include Mass Effect: Andromeda, Metal Gear Survive, pretty much the entire Call of Duty series, Sea of Thieves and so on. As the modern era of monetizing gamer outrage continues, there’s a persistent need for a new Two Minutes Hate, so at any given time some game or another has to be an awful anti-consumer slap in the face from those greedy publisher$ – those are the games you want to play.


Any one of those opinions, aired in the wrong forum, would send the gamer community into frothing rage; someone would then almost certainly make some high-profile YouTube videos with clickbait titles and ads enabled to make a few bucks off of that frothing rage. That’s where we are in 2018.

That’s not to say this sort of behavior is new or anything; there’s just more ways to express it in the age of social media. The game industry has always been more than eager to ferment division in the hobby – Sonic and Mario were considered rivals for a reason. Gaming media, meanwhile, is at best a patsy and at worst a form of payola; recent noise about this hasn’t really changed the status quo, simply allowing for the creation of a sort of sub-genre of pearl-clutching writing about the toxicity of gamers and games. Forums and communities are rife with astroturfing, making it impossible to know if you’re talking to a human or some alien marketer. The community is defined by infighting, nastiness and xenophobia.

In other words, if you want real, unclouded opinions on what to play, as well as the ability to be real about what you’ve played, your options are pretty much the same as they’ve always been: make friends and talk to them. Just watch out when you do – I hear modern astroturfing schemes can be pretty convincing…


The Infernal Accountant Mage believes the pen is mightier than the sword…well, depending on how sharp the pen and sword are. A child of the ’90s and a prolific writer, he strews his work about like Legos made of words, just waiting for your brain to step on them. He enjoys a devilish challenge, so when it comes to talking about some of the more difficult games out there, you might just run into the Infernal Accountant Mage. Some advice: hold on to your soul around this guy, and don’t sign anything. Read more at


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10 replies »

  1. I played FFVIII before I heard the negative reviews of it, and I’m really glad, because I still tend to be a bandwagon jumper if I’m not cognizant of it. It’s what happened with me and FFXIII and I’m annoyed with myself, because there’s been too many times I’ve listened to the crowd and then when I experience it myself, I have a markedly different opinion.

    Once I understood the GF system, I loved it. When I played the first time, I definitely had problems, but that’s because I didn’t take the time to learn. I assumed the game was similar to the other Final Fantasies, but once you get used to Junctioning, FFVIII is hella easy (and some might say too easy, but I’m story oriented so meh?). I love the card game and would actually play it outside of the game. As for story, even though FFVII is my favorite, the main character I most identify with is Squall. He just psychologically makes sense, and even though he’s moody broody (like so many FF heroes), it makes perfect sense why (honestly…they all have reasons for it).

    Long story short, I’m glad to see VIII getting some defense 🙂


  2. It always makes my heart happy to hear someone say something nice about FFXIII. I legitimately love that game. It’s an ethereal sci-fi dream trip filled with high concept ideas and snappy mechanics. I’ve been thinking about doing a runthrough of the trilogy lately.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For waht it’s worth, you’re not alone. I enjoyed FFVIII too, and have a rea; soft spot for FFXIII: Lightning Returns. I also didn’t get too far into Witcher 3. It just felt really slow.


  4. I think the problem you’ll find with the internet at large, is we have been so conditioned of having our own platform and voice, that if one person says they like something, then anybody who doesn’t like it feels the need to share their opinion.

    I struggle with this actually, in keeping my opinion to myself when someone expresses love/hate for something, unless it is specifically asked for. Sometimes it gets me into trouble. As a person who finds some of those statements baffling, especially FFXIII and FFVIII being good games, I cannot argue that as they are how you feel about them. Telling you why I don’t like them is pointless, because ultimately I’m not trying to change your mind on them, and why would I want to? You enjoy something, that is fantastic.

    I will have to say though that I feel your statement about Witcher 3 is patently false. In fact, that game has made a name for itself based on the fact that it has some of the best side quests in gaming, and honestly should be a template for any game that has side quests. Usually, even the most banal quest has a twist, turn, or some interesting story that makes it nearly as consequential as the main story. They go into great detail about how they fleshed out the world, and why they wanted to avoid just that type of gameplay in the book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.

    I didn’t finish the game, I played around 30 hours of it, and I played enough to know that your assertion is false. In this case, I don’t think it is even a taste based thing (like the combat is in this game), but a demonstrably false statement when compared to pretty much every game ever.

    Otherwise you are spot on: the only way to actually form an opinion is play something yourself, and then decide how you feel about it. Deciding something is awful because the masses feel that way is a terrible way to experience life, and conversely deciding something is wonderful just because everybody else does isn’t great either. That doesn’t mean we should seek to be contrarian about our views, but simply form our own.


    • I’d agree with your opinion of The Witcher 3. I’ve played my fair share of open-world games, RPGs or otherwise, and found Witcher 3 to have some of the best optional side-quests available. Typically, side-quests are dull and serve as ways to artificially inflate play time and make the world “feel” bigger. The Witcher 3 certainly had its stinkers, but I always wanted to undertake its side-quests — which says a lot about a game of that scale. It’s a time commitment, for sure, but definitely one I enjoyed.

      I’m also with the OP in that I loved FFVIII and found XIII and XV to be great. They gave me what *I* wanted, despite their flaws. Like you said, though, opinions are opinions and I try my best not to argue with someone in regards to how they feel about a game I feel differently about.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I tried so hard to like FFXIII. I hadn’t played FFXII, because I was still kind of mourning the loss of my turn based gameplay, not to mention the fact it felt like a single player MMO.

        Thus I was thrilled to play FFXIII, only to find yet another battle system where I couldn’t control my whole party, and I couldn’t stand that. The story was ok (if confusing), and most of the characters were fine (except Hope), so I don’t have the same problems a lot of people do with it. I just really disliked the combat system.

        FFXV was a fine game in my opinion, with a real problem with the plot not feeling finished and having way too many piddly sidequests, that simply weren’t interesting. The second the world got really interesting and I actually liked the main character it was over, but dang what an ending.


        • I was in the same boat with XII at launch but grew to enjoy it more with the ps4 remaster.

          I really enjoyed XIII’s take on turn-based combat, switching in and out of job class makeups. It was fast-paced and I’m sure I’d buckle under the pressure of controlling the other 2 party members. I know its linearity was a big concern for most, but I was fine with it (especially after XII’s larger, dull open world).


      • I was hoping you’d comment! I know VIII is arguably your favorite. I feel defensive towards both it and IX because some IRL people crap on them ALL the damn time, and while yeah, people can have their opinions, they seem to miss all the great things about them. Each Final Fantasy does something slightly different, and it’s like listening to a favorite radio station. You might not like that particular song, but you’re more than likely going to like the next. Plus them trying new mechanics means they can hone things. I didn’t like the EXP system in II, but they learned from it and made changes.

        Liked by 1 person

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