Sometimes my alarm still goes off for work.
Not with any regularity. No, I wouldn't be able to count on it if I was actually still working.
Just often enough to remind me what was left behind.
It's 3:30 am. I am drawing a childhood hero of mine, Cloud Strife.
Late January of 1997 Final Fantasy 7 was released in the United States. It was one of many soldiers in a cultural revolution.
I was eight years old. I still didn't play it for another year or so. A friend of mine at the time played while I stayed the night and later let me borrow it.
"This is stupid." I thought as pressed a "Attack" on a command bar across the bottom of the screen that looked a lot like a windows pop up.
"I press the button my character does one thing and returns to the position they were in, why can't I hit, hit, hit, block, block, hit?"
It was all I played when I was 9 and 10.
I would read so much dialogue, in hindsight it was that game, and the countless other's I played in pursuit of the same feeling that Final Fantasy 7 gave me, that kept me nimble in Literature.
Those were the novels of my time. I didn't escape into the page, I escaped in video games. The narratives were complex, especially for my age.
I listened to a lecture course about screenwriting a year or so ago. The professor talked about the overarching them and cognitive effect of different movies. He brought Pulp Fiction and summed up the cognitive them as "friendships in college". Just a wild ride, full of uncertainty and then everyone goes there separate ways.
Final Fantasy 7 follows a rag tag group of eco terrorists on a steampunk sword and sorcery quest to stop the emissary of an dormant alien from destroying their planet, but if you remember it like I do, you remember the comaraderie of the cast of playable character. They become a family.
When I was in forth grade my parents got a divorce. I know we're not supposed to talk about how much that sucks because it happens to sooo many people, but man it really sucks. I have two brothers. They have both always been pretty socially gifted with groups of friends. I wasn't.
For the next few years it was me and FF7. I had a family vicariously through the banned misfits of that awkwardly written video game script.
The influence of things like Final Fantasy, Anime, Dragon Ball Z, and comic books, did more to me and more to so many others than just provide an escape though. It gave us Midwestern dreamers aesthetics that we wouldn't have been exposed to, maybe, ever. It made literary themes and character development digestible to our young minds, eager for any diversions, by giving us battles with dragons giant monsters and machines. We could wield lightning and summon deities like Shiva and Ifrit to attack our foes. Sometimes I think life was simpler back then, but then I realize I just had such great diversions.
Even in an area where basketball, chasing women, and working on cars were the most acceptable and common pass times.
In junior high I would forsake my inner nerd to fit in. I never fit in, and the hunger grew and grew until I found myself right back in the sword and sorcery fold playing "The Elder Scrolls Oblivion" right after I dropped out of college.
The need for something wild to look at never fades in some people, and most of the time, I thank the Universe that I am one of them. Stay creative. Let's be nerdy together.
Below is a Fan art picture by GrosDino on deviantart. The picture is of Ruby weapon a super boss from FF7. Looking at this beautiful, stylistic rendition of the polygon boss, I am reminded of how much things like Japanese video games shaped and fueled my love for design and artistry.