Oh, Final Fantasy.
As a loyal fan who honestly is a little too used to being treated like this when it comes to most of the media I enjoy, I tried my hardest to close my eyes and plug my ears and go “lalalalala” when it came to the pervy focus on breast jiggle physics in Lightning Returns. I side-eyed the fact that the first incarnation of Cid that’s female must therefore fix all cars in booty shorts and a bikini top and have lingering shots on her boobs and ass in every scene she’s in (and doesn’t charge the boys for repairing the car? What’s up with that? Cidney needs to eat and pay her rent too, c’mon) but comforted myself with this mantra: “female Cid, boss ass mechanic, that’s actually a cute jacket, female Cid, boss ass mechanic…”
In a recent GameSpot interview, game director Hajime Tabata explained why the upcoming game’s party consists solely of men:
“Speaking honestly, an all-male party feels almost more approachable for players. Even the presence of one female in the group will change their behaviour, so that they’ll act differently. So to give the most natural feeling, to make them feel sincere and honest, having them all the same gender made sense in that way.
“The world might be ready to see the curtain lifted on what boys do when girls aren’t around, when they come out of the tent all prim and proper. That’s kind of the idea behind it… we think, male or female player, that everyone will feel a certain connection and bond with the four characters.”
Right. Because all men are completely incapable of true honesty or being themselves while around women. Platonic relationships between men and women don’t exist. God forbid there be a woman in the party, otherwise the boys will have to hold back on the potty humor and fall all over themselves trying to open tent flaps and pull out chairs and protect her when a big scary monster starts trying to kill them all. Oh, wait, that’s bullshit.
Tabata goes on to describe the game’s “boys will be boys” vibe. And in that moment, I swear, we were all accosted by memories of that “Guys being dudes!” vine.
I still do want to play Final Fantasy XV, because it looks gorgeous and the early reviews are decent enough and I really really want to make Ignis cook me ramen all the time, but this whole debacle has colored my thoughts on it and dulled my excitement by a lot. I actually was okay with there being an all-male cast for the game, at least before this interview came out. My reasoning was thus: it certainly would have been better if there were more visible and playable female characters, but this is one game out of many, many Final Fantasy games, and the franchise as a whole has brought a ton of awesome women to our screens. I’d thought that the crew just happened to be all men, was interested in seeing their friendships and stories play out, and had hopes that the few women we got glimpses of were handled well (Cidney’s iffy character design aside).
But if this is the mindset in which Tabata and co. are creating Final Fantasy XV, I don’t know how “natural” it’s going to feel. If anything, Tabata has gone and made this game less approachable for me. What a shame.