timber maniac


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Video Games - How have they inspired you? How have they influenced your thinking? - I explain how Final Fantasy 7 has changed me.

One antagonist in Final Fantasy 7 is a corporation (Shin-Ra) that extracts 'Mako Energy' from the planet. This Mako Energy is converted into electricity using reactors, and that electricity is used to power a surrounding city (Midgar) and other projects. It is a lucrative business and is essential to maintaining Midgar and Shin-Ra's war technologies. You begin the game as the main character (Cloud) and are already directly involved with a vigilante terrorist group; a group whose goal is to destroy these Mako Energy Reactors.

Though Cloud cares little for his group, and is very moody, he continues to be involved in these vigilante missions. As time progresses in the game (meaning you complete more story-line) Cloud learns that Mako Energy is found in all of the living things that inhabit his planet. When a life ends, it's Mako Energy returns to the planet. The Mako Energy is then recycled by the planet and used to create new life. Cloud soon understands that the continued extraction of Mako Energy will result in disabling the planet's ability to support new life. Cloud is aware that Shin-Ra's president knows these dooming facts and that this president is yet still planning to progress with the extractions. This gives Cloud some motivation in supporting his group, and eventually he grows to be the inspiring leader that is key to saving the planet.

How did this influence me?

At the age of 12, with the help of this compelling story, I seriously contemplated my role in society. I began to feel passionately about 'doing the right thing' and began to open my eyes to the people who fight against indifference towards suffering. I realized that greed acts as a lens and distorts perspective. The story helped me to realize that those who act out of malicious greed are ostracized from a moral society. Most importantly I started the process of deciding what my life would be like. I wondered what kind of character I am and what kind I'd like to be.

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    Sep 6 2012: In terms of mental acuity concerning my vision and reflexes, I would say yes. However if one does not know how to manage their time appropriately then one might find themselves consumed in virtual realities. If anything, Paper Mario taught me about how to apply extra-spatial-dimensions to the physical world. Perceptions are mere illusions that either cannot show or veil what is indeed true in this universe. That is my experience with video games.
  • Oct 3 2012: Great conversation. I'm currently 23 years old and I've been playing games since as early as I can remember. I will admit that I have probably spent more time on video games than I should have. However, there are some key things that I have gained from immersing myself in an online culture. As a teenager, I was able to read and absorb all different kinds of opinions from people all over the world which allowed me to appreciate different perspectives and even different lifestyles.

    I was also able to further develop my own sense of identity through interacting with so many different personalities. I now have leadership skills I dare say I would not possess if the problem-solving present in the games I played did not evoke a need for them. I learned how to mediate arguments and facilitate compromise within a group. I learned that in order to keep a group together, a strong leader must ensure that all members feel that their concerns are being addressed and their inputs valued. It is during online games that I also got my first taste of teaching. It gives me great pleasure while playing games like World of Warcraft to explain the mechanics of boss fights and how and why to do things outlined in the strategy being used. I'm one of those RL's that talks a lot beforehand, as I love details. You may love or hate that kind of leading, but rest assured if you pay attention you'll go into the battle informed.

    I also learned about the many different facets of evil present in the real world as personified through villains in a myriad of different stories. FF7 and FFX are similar in a lot of ways, but the main enemies couldn't be more different. Certainly corruption is prevalent in both (Yu-Yevon & Shin-Ra), but Sin is shown as a necessary evil and balances "the calm" which comes after defeating it. Sephiroth on the other hand shows how dehumanization is capable of overwhelming one to the point of irrational actions.
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    Oct 1 2012: Hello Timber Maniac. Thanks for gracefully summarizing FF VII, and for highlighting the tremendous influence that video games can have in shaping people's world views.

    I am old enough to have played Final Fantasy since it came out in the late 80's. Out of the entire series, I still consider FF VII my number 1 favorite, followed by FF X.

    As Jane McGonigal has said brilliantly... video games can fill that human need of face increasing challenges, share common goals with peers, get recognized for the progress made, and maintain a clear ultimate purpose in sight.

    As such, they can be powerful metaphors to teach. I must confess that, not only am I a geek, but I brought up my kids "down" the same path. Final Fantasy is one of the tools that I used to share some of my world views with them. I have also used a few movies to that effect too.

    I remember that with FF VII they learned about the concept of the spirit going back to mother earth, they also grasped the concept of greed and how that can reflect directly in suffering for others. Watching the movie Avatar with them was interesting, they immediately started drawing parallels with FF VII. Something similar happened when they watched "Robots".

    Later, they started playing FF X, and first it made perfect sense to them that the ultimate enemy was called "Sin". But they learned another valuable lesson later in the game, when the good/evil black/white definition starts to blur and characters are forced to face that the human nature is always a delicate combination of both

    There is another side of the coin, though... Some of their classmates grew up playing games like Halo, and some developed some survival/opportunistic (and sometimes bullying) attitudes. I have never seen a study on this, but it is likely that the games they played also had a role in shaping their particular world view.

    I think that one could design a whole education track from infant to teenager based on a good selection of video games

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    Oct 1 2012: Yes, Video games have inspired me in numerous ways. To be honest, I am a Video Game maniac! It's my hobby, and video gams inspire me to do things in my life. I'm not sure if you've played Kingdom Hearts before Timber Maniac, but it's very similar to Final Fantasy, except with disney characters. Anyway, it inspires me the same way it inspires you. I learned how to become a leader, and learned leader characteristics and skills. Providentially, I actually have become a pretty epic leader myself. Well, at least when I'm playing online with a team against others, but also in reality as well. We just may have something in common Maniac!
  • Sep 7 2012: As much as I liked FF7, FFVI was probably the best game in that franchise. I mean come on. The entire story is about the importance of friendship and that with the right support structures, you can overcome anything. Seriously, the world being destroyed is only about the halfway point of the game. The second half of the game is at least trying to fix what the villain did to the world.
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      Sep 7 2012: Yeah that kinda happens in FF7. Meteor is coming.... and... it keeps coming... and it hits... then you are left to pick up the pieces. I think all Final Fantasy games have a common theme of friendship and responsibility.
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      Sep 7 2012: FFVI's Kefka is probably my favorite villian of any. Friendship and responsibility is a theme of almost any RPG. Final Fantasy isn't the most popular for nothing.
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    Sep 6 2012: I LOVED FF7! As far as changes in thinking go I'd have to say FFX was the one for me. Yu Yevon was thought of as a good guy until the end. FF7 made me a die hard RPGer for years afterwards. That is certain.
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    Sep 6 2012: I see you're from Balamb Garden... Canada...

    I feel like I've been to this place before too... ;)