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Final Fantasy is a Breath of Fresh Air for Gender Equality

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

If you don’t know what Final Fantasy is, it’s an MMORPG on a variety of platforms. I am focusing on the franchise as a whole as I discuss the game throughout this piece. The game itself is a subscription based game, published by Square Enix. Final Fantasy is currently one of the largest MMORPGs on the market. With the release of their “Endwalker” expansion their player base reached a peak of 95,150 players.

I was introduced to Final fantasy years ago when I played on my Xbox but I only played for a bit. A few weeks ago though, my obsession really started. My boyfriend has quite frankly a shit ton of hours on the game. He’s obsessed but in the best way. Watching him play the game and explain it was incredible and fun. When the preorder for the new expansion came out, he started telling me all about it and showing me clips of the playable characters as well as what was changing. It drew me in instantly. Seeing all the customizations and the world, I was instantly intrigued. He told me that there was a free trial for players up until a certain level and that we could play together and I was instantly sold. I was so enthralled by the world that I saw once I started the game and begun playing with him, and was isntantly hooked.

On one hand Final Fantasy is a game that I thoroughly enjoy playing with someone I love spending time with, and on the other hand it’s a breath of fresh air (which I will explain below). I was introduced to an entirely new world when I started playing. It is not easy to understand and start playing from scratch when there are players and levels above you that know way more. I learned it quickly but even now I am still learning. I have only been playing for about two weeks now and I still try to play every day and learn bit by bit, but there is so much to remember. Though playing is great and I love the game and learning that is not even the thing I learned was important about this franchise. I quickly learned how inclusive it is. It is the first MMORPG I have seen that doesn’t purposefully sexually exploit women.  Women get to choose what they wear; they are not forced into battle with lingerie and skimpy outfits as men are adorned in full plated pieces, and that is what really shocked me.

Final Fantasy is a breath of fresh air for me as someone who has looked at gender inequality in the gaming industry both casually and academically. Of course, every game will have certain things that may be seen as sexual and players will make things sexual given the option. I will not lie or make the game what it is not. There are clothes that can be put on like bikinis or undergarments and dances and more that can be sexual. The important part is that the men and women are more equal than in any game I have seen, especially in any MMORPG.

Below is an example comparison of the male vs female bathing suit. Typically one would assume the female suit would be skippy where as the males would be a little more fuller coverage with trunks, however in this case the males wears what can be called a “garter” that is leather and a chest one as well while the female wears a bikini, the male is also in a speedo looking piece. Image reference linked here

Another example is the new male bunny in the game. Female bunnies have been around, but with the new “Endwalker” expansion many things are new and changing, and they have introduced a male version of the bunny class. I have to admit I would have never expected them to look like this? Would you? The bunny outfits to me give a lot more feminine vibe than one may think would be in a game. I say this due to the layered belts with jewels and crop tops. I love it, but is it typical? I don’t think so, at least not typical with mainstream games we see. And not typical with the armour we typically see men adorning in games.

Here is an example of customizations for the bunny in Final Fantasy XIV. You see here how a female character can dress in long garments and how a male character can dress in shorter and more revealing garments and vice versa. With this I prove my point that Final Fantasy is inclusive when it comes to gender. you can be who you want no matter the gender you identify or present as in real life (irl). This is your avatar, your in-game character, and you can present this individual however you please. Along with this I also think this game is saying it is ok to be who you want and we fully support you. They promote the idea that there is no need to marginalize gender to become eye candy.

Final Fantasy XIV also pushes themselves ahead slightly with their new “Endwalker” expansion. They announced through their patchnotes and gameplay out now that gender restrictions on 5 popular outfits would be removed. The Spring Dress, Thavnairian Bustier and the Loyal Housemaid’s Attire, previously only wearable by female characters, will now be able to be worn by men. On top of that, the Loyal Butler’s Attire and the High House Justaucorps will be able to be worn by female characters, where previously only male characters could equip them. These restrictions are being removed for all of the individual items that make up the outfits, including gloves, hats, boots, and pants.

Though there are many options for choosing characters in Final Fantasy XIV you still have to choose a male or female character. There is no choice on gender neutral characters. Keep this in mind as I discuss my next points. Though that is one step of importance that is omitted from the game I do think that Final Fantasy has gone in the right direction with everything else they have done. You can choose a female character but dress them in stereotypical male clothing if you so choose. And choose to be masculine presenting. You can also customize your character to look more on the masculine side. The game also does a really good job at gender inclusive names throughout the game such as “warrior” or “my friend”. It is important to realize that gender inclusivity is present here, but is it fully represented? Not necessarily. 

There have been reddit forums, and Final Fantasy forums talking about this exact topic and solutions to the problem. I don’t think the game does it to deny people these things; I think the game is vast and large and they are doing their best to update and change things as the game grows. Keep putting your opinion out there and eventually, hopefully the change will come. There is, of course, work to be done but the creator is not shy to those changes and he is willing to work for change. I think that if someone is within the gender queer, and or gender neutral or nonconforming identifying space they may see this item differently. Also individuals who are white males who want those female characters to have skimpy clothing may see this differently. Though it is possible for female characters to put those clothes on in the games they do not have to and that may irritate some of the men. For the genderfluid individuals they may feel that they are underrepresented in character creation. I think that though this game is very ahead for what they are doing and better than a lot of other MMORPGs some people may be mad at that and others may not see it that way, it just depends on who you ask.

If we are talking facts, the director of the game is a man who goes by the name Naoki Yoshida. I think he was a man who wanted to create a world that people could escape to. A world where anyone could be what and who they wanted to be regardless of the gender they live and breathe as in the real world. Yoshida has talked about this exact thing. Talking about the values of people, the changes that Final Fantasy needs to make to push forward with the changes that people need and want. People need inclusivity and they want inclusivity. They want to feel represented and without a game that does that they would feel like they can be those characters or be able to immerse themselves in a storyline. The fact that there is a creator that is willing to change as he learns about people’s needs and wants is mind blowing and iconic, to put it simply. He is representing a vast amount of creators in the game space, and they need to follow in his footsteps.  This is the way that creators need to be. We need to step away from the typical male dominated space, that creates the damsel in distress, that creates females dressed in battle lingerie. Other companies and games need to do what he is doing. Represent the people, give people options, and take hold of the individuals that are actually playing the game but also be willing to work towards change. There is still work to be done of course, but Final Fantasy in my opinion is step ahead of the game.

Social Media Theory and Strategy Major with a dual minor in Studio Art focusing in photography, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. I heavily focus my writing on poems, as well as writing on topics realted to the study of video games.
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