I was 10 years old when I played Fire Emblem for the first time. Sometimes, when I play the game, especially at the very beginning when Lyn fights Batta, a fraction of the feeling I had when playing it the first time comes back into my heart and memory describes the rest. It was at Christmas time and I received Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance at the same time. I remember being so excited to receive two new Gameboy Advance games and adding them to my (small) collection. I was completely immersed in these new worlds full of drama and magic.
I remember signing up for Fire Emblem Planet and being a member of their forums in 2004, when Windows XP was still the norm. I joined the written roleplay, hosted right on the forums and started doing pixel art too. I remember being so excited to come home from school, jump on the desktop and see what posts people left behind for me to read through and then write a response. I wasn’t very good at either of these things, but it brought me immense joy.
As time went by, I grew older, but my love for Fire Emblem never stopped. Life kept coming at me and throwing punches, but that fantasy world was still there to distract me from the problems. I faced homelessness, but still went to the library to try and find a way to follow my dream of making my own tactical RPG. I had a breakdown and ran away to a foreign land, where I was captured. But even during my incarceration and eventual deportation, I still dreamt of making video games. And now, today, there are dozens of tools I can use to create one.
But that’s my story. Not the story of the franchise. While I enjoyed the GBA versions of the game, I played the Tellius series at a friend’s house, where I only got so far. Later, I tried playing the DS versions, which lacked the individualized palettes for each character, everyone was blue. When the 3DS versions came out, I remember getting the console, just to play them. I loved the romancing option, including the ability to flirt and engage with my favorite characters. But others criticized this feature. When Shadows of Valentia finally came out, I remember playing it non-stop.
And then the Switch came out and gave us Three Houses… which deeply disappointed me. I didn’t even recognize it anymore. It didn’t feel like Fire Emblem at all. It felt like someone else’s pet project with the Fire Emblem name slapped on top of it. Engage was no better, just more insult to injury. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the ‘wrong’ people had control over my beloved franchise and were turning it into some kind of selfish, self-hating, inside joke. I couldn’t stop seeing these imaginary people, who were young and arrogant, boasting the fact that they are the new visionaries for many Nintendo games, especially after the death of Satoru Iwata in 2015.
So, why do I still want to make games, even if I feel this way? Because I know I’d be making a video game for the right reason. In a world that scrutinizes itself based on notions of ‘collective merit and mutual benefit’, with people that base their values in ‘practicality’, I see the value in any medium that involves story-telling. In the face of emerging AI, advanced technology, quantum computers, digitized currency and global socialism, I remind myself that I have something much more valuable than any of these things: genuity.
It is the very thing that gives anything and everything else value. Our honest opinions about these things are what give them meaning. And I believe that we all have a deeper awareness of the things that try to remove us from what we feel is human. The best work is done with care and consideration for others… (other what)? Other human beings, fellow-kind… you.
And so I lament for Fire Emblem and other games that are now only being created for the purpose of generating currency. I lament for those days when people came together to use their imagination and creativity, being replaced by a computer that does everything for them instead. Making a game has become a means to an end, because computers are learning how to “create” and the people who employ them only care about making more money for themselves, by cutting other people out.
So, I would advise everyone in this community to take the time to realize how precious it is, for us to gather like this. I want to believe that we, as human beings, will always be able to tell when something is created by a fellow person or when something has been generated by a computer trying to mimic creation.