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Die-hard Final Fantasy fans will have already heard about an unusual spin-off titled Mevius Final Fantasy, announced not long ago.
Since the announcement, this bizarre-looking spin-off has undergone a few changes.
Firstly, the name has been changed to the slightly less obscure Mobius Final Fantasy.
There is a change, however, that has me slightly concerned …
It’s rare I’ll ever defend something I don’t like, yet I find myself defending a character design I didn’t really love until it was snatched away from me …
Let’s go into a little more detail. When the game was first shown, the gaming community was in uproar.
Was it because yet another Final Fantasy title was going mobile?
Well, yes, there were a few complaints, but the main criticism was targeted at the leading character’s design: a male character with armour that showed off a lot of skin, particularly around his back and sides.
Sound familiar? Of course it does! Ashe’s belt, an excuse for a skirt, from Final Fantasy XII; Yuna’s sudden decision to strip off and bare all between Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2; many of Lightning’s more exploitative garbs from Lightning Returns; and more!
These are just a few examples from the Final Fantasy series of female characters that have donned outfits that are more flesh than fabric …
Yet the moment that is flipped on its head and a male character shows off some skin, the fans lose it …
Now I’m not saying two wrongs make a right here, and I’m definitely not saying that showing off flesh is wrong (say not to slut-shaming!).
Yet when it becomes exploitative, it becomes problematic, and there are so many exploitative female character designs created by male designers.
There was something so refreshing about finally seeing a skimpy male design, though! It was almost like an apology for the abundance of exploitative female designs and the lack of similar male designs.
It also seemed a celebration of the male form and, weirdly, gender equality. And then they changed it …
The character has been redesigned, covering up most of what was on show. Gone is my opportunity to get into the head of the people that ogle up scantily clad female characters (assuming the game even makes it overseas and my poor tablet can handle it).
I’m supposed to be okay with watching Fran’s behind wiggle sexily away in Final Fantasy XII, but a bit of back and side from a male character to satisfy me, not to mention the women who are so often the subject of hetero male desire? That’s a no-no.
Yet my real frustrations stem from the reactions I have seen in comments sections and forums.
‘He looks so gay,’ seems to be the main ‘critique’ of the design.
A minority of commenters argue the possibility that the character could be gay, and so what? That’s a great example of open-mindedness, but it is a minority.
The original design was apparently too feminine and sexy. Feminine because of all the exposed flesh …
Yes, we now associate an exposed back and sides with femininity because it’s been hammered home for so long: men cover up, women show it all off.
And of course, a feminine male lead MUST be gay, because homosexuality and femininity go hand in hand … Right? Insert eye roll.
The sexuality of this leading character has never been commented on by the developers, so what gives these ‘fans’ the right to assume?
What’s worse is the extremely negative reaction. For some reason, a gay character is a negative character.
Apparently, according to some comments I’ve seen in reaction to this character, there are now too many LGBT characters in gaming …
LGBT characters are finally making their way into gaming with characters like Ellie from The Last of Us and Dorian from Dragon Age: Inquisition, with a few more here and there.
It’s a fantastic start, with characters that are believable, non-stereotypical or offensive and non-token, but it is just a start. With this extreme negative attitude we risk going all the way back to square one when it comes to the LGBT community’s place within the gaming community.
Particularly with a series like Final Fantasy, a series that is notorious for its romantic sub-plots, I believe it is important to be more inclusive.
Personally, I don’t see it happening. Final Fantasy XV is on the way with an all-male playable cast. Despite my hopes I imagine each character will be straight … Perhaps it won’t even be brought up.
And this brings me back to my rant … The sexuality of Mobius Final Fantasy’s leading character wasn’t even brought up!
Only in negative comments was this ‘issue’ brought to light and in response to that negativity Square-Enix has changed the design.
To me this sends out a message, loud and clear: ‘You’re right, gay characters ARE negative, and if you perceive our characters as such we will change them.’
It’s a crippling blow to me. As a long-standing fan of Final Fantasy I feel let down – not just by Square-Enix but the fans as well.
I once defended Square-Enix for sticking to their guns, continuing to develop the Final Fantasy XIII series against the will of the many, their artistic integrity intact and reminding fans that felt it was their right to decide the future of the series who the developer is.
Now, with this particular design issue, Square-Enix has bent over backwards in response to bigoted comments. This sends out a message to the gaming community that it’s okay to discriminate. It really is the last thing we need right now …
So prove me wrong Square-Enix. The change in design hasn’t been a unanimous decision: project leader Naoki Hamaguchi and managing producer Hiroki Okayama were fans of the original design, and director Yoshinori Kitase has said with enough demand the original design could come back.
Either bring back the design and prove that there’s no hidden agenda or consider applying this new-found nobility in designing characters that aren’t exploitative to your female characters. Maybe give Rikku a jumper in the upcoming second re-release of Final Fantasy X-2.