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Final Fantasy Veeee

This week we have guest writer Scott Davis, Monetisation Designer at Wargaming.Net, here to give us an insight into his world of gaming!  

I work in video games. Have done for almost seven years now. As an analyst, a manager, a designer, and now (almost) a producer. How I got into gaming and how I knew I wanted to make video games are questions that come up quite a lot when working for a games company. I usually tell people how my dad bought me a second-hand SEGA Master System when I was very young, or how I used a local Jerry’s Video (a rental store) as a pseudo-extended games collection when I had my MegaDrive. What I don’t normally tell people is how, one Saturday afternoon when I was thirteen years old, how a single moment made me unequivocally state to myself “I want to make video games when I grow up”.

First up, how I ended up playing video games at thirteen starts with how I ended up playing video games at five years old. My memory is hazy, as you’d imagine, of what was really happening around me when I was five years old, but at the time my parents were going through a divorce. I didn’t care though, because my parents had picked up a cheap SEGA Master System II from a local car boot sale. The SEGA MegaDrive was well and truly flying off shelves at this time, so they probably picked up its older brother for quite cheap. I had one game for it, Sonic the Hedgehog. I didn’t know how a master system worked (nor did my parents) so I just turned it on without anything in the cartridge slot. What booted up was ‘Alexx the Kidd’ which was actually built into the body of the Master System II in the UK. That was technically the first video game I ever played. I sucked at it, as any five-year-old probably would.

Many years on, many handed-down systems and a parental divorce later, I had finally caught up to the current generation. Despite the strife, my parents had banded together to buy me a Playstation. As was tradition, it was second-hand, but more importantly it was ‘chipped’ which meant it could run copied games. I certainly didn’t know, and likely nor did my parents, the extent to which playing copied games on a chipped console was frowned upon – but a thirteen-year-old me didn’t really care. To me it just meant I had a whole stack of games. My dad had provided me with a printed list of games that he could get me for free from a “mate at work”. There were about 30 on the list, and I asked for all of them.

One such game was Final Fantasy VIII (which I pronounced as ‘veeee’ for many years). I had booted it up on a whim after making my way through half of the first level of Tomb Raider 2 deeming it too hard for me to care about it anymore. Final Fantasy VIII booted up to, what was for a thirteen-year-old, a “fucking amazing” 3D animated intro. I put more time into the beginning of that game than I warranted to the other 29 copied video games I had, and I couldn’t at the time tell you why. It didn’t really catch me right away. I wasn’t really a fan of RPG’s (I liked shooting and punching stuff). But I ploughed on, nonetheless.

Then I got to the early part of the game which was the SEED mission in Dollet – which if you have played Final Fantasy VIII, makes total sense, otherwise gibberish.

I’m thirteen. It’s a sunny afternoon in a Bristol suburb. I’m sat on the floor of my bedroom. I’m playing a copy of Final Fantasy VIII on a chipped Playstation plugged into a tiny Matsui TV VHS combo.

Squall, Selphie, and Zell are atop the Dollet communication tower battling a flying giant beast called Elnoyle. There was something about the stakes of that boss fight, the climax of a long mission, the emotional stakes of the characters, the sound effects, the frankly-phenomenal music, the fact that I hadn’t got up to pee in about six hours – that just made me take it all in and say “I want to make videogames when I grow up”.

I may be working in the video games industry now and in a short time I am lucky to have worked on some great games with some great people – but I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved my thirteen-year-old self’s goal. Because I never really grew up.

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