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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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  • 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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