Monday, January 14, 2019

Fascination



Some enemy attacks in RPGs always cause status effects, others have variable degrees of likelihood depending on player stats.

One enemy skill that always works (as long as the player does not have an accessory to prevent it) is "Fascination" used by a number of enemies in Final Fantasy 7 and primarily Jemnezmy. 

"Fascination" is a move in which a scantily clad, attractive, young female fiend blows a kiss or something at your party, and all of a sudden all the male characters are inflicted with the status effect of "confusion".

I have never forgotten about this enemy attack! 

As a 7 year old boy the move is rather strange and you don't quite understand what the big deal is, but as you change into a man, and also as you read theology, you understand how correctly the makers of FFVII designed this enemy. She is somewhat like the Siren of Greek mythology, her beauty is a trap, it makes you lose your mind, you completely forget your goal, your telos and the Siren destroys you.

"Fascination", it is from the Latin which can actually mean confuse, but also charm or bewitch. Some might argue that fascination is a really dodgy translation or whatever the Japenese is- presumably something more like "charm" or "entice", something that evokes more clearly both that you lose your mind, and that losing your mind is as a result of the vice of lust.

All men have experienced "fascination" and what a killer it is.
St. Thomas Aquinas describes "fascination" as one of the effects of the vice of lust, we read:

"Now carnal vices, namely gluttony and lust, are concerned with pleasures of touch in matters of food and sex; and these are the most impetuous of all pleasures of the body. For this reason, these vices cause man’s attention to be very firmly fixed on corporeal things … [As a] consequence man’s operation in regard to intelligible (obvious) things is weakened,
[This is caused] more, however, by lust than by gluttony, forasmuch as sexual pleasures are more vehement than those of the table. Wherefore lust gives rise to blindness of mind, which excludes almost entirely the knowledge of spiritual things."

Lust makes you forget eternity, heaven, hell, salvation, the truths of the Faith, the Crucifixion of the Son of God, your own immortal soul, your vocation, your state in life- absolutely everything can so easily get forgotten about in the grip of "fascination".

What wakes you up from confusion? In FFVII it is actually being attacked! Physical pain, and the ascetic tradition says the same. Take your USB charger wire, remove your shirt, and apply a few strokes to your back, that will wake you up! Take a cold shower! Sleep with the heating off in winter! Deny yourself the pleasures of taste, and, above all, alcohol. 

In the game world there are accessories to prevent confusion from the spell of fascination, in life, for some men, there ain't any accessories that will help you, there's no tactics to defeat this enemy, and so, when you see that Jemnezmy appear on your screen, hold L1 and R1 and get out of there.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Is Gaming a sin? Response to an e-mail.




Hello xxxxx,

Thank you so much for your e-mail, and may God bless you in your studies and in the pursuit of your vocation.

I am pretty much the only writer on this blog now and I don't contribute to it enough either, I think I started helping on it when I was about 24 and now I'm 32. I was a seminarian when I started and now I have been a priest 3 years.

I take the view that video games are a medium, just like film, music and literature. There are books that Catholics should not read, there are music types Catholics should not listen to, there are films Catholics should not watch, but this does not mean a catholic should not read any books, not listen to any music, not watch any films.

I also take the view that games are a kind of sport/ leisure activity a way of re-creating, of "playing" which according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is a necessary element in being a flourishing human being.

So with those points put together we get-

1) everyone needs to play, to recreate themselves,
2) video games are a medium, a type of entertainment and like any medium in itself it is morally neutral. The particular message or content that comes from the game will define its morality. I am quite strict with myself on this- games with swearing, impurities, or games where you summon demons, I avoid those- sometimes I have bought them and stopped playing them- like 'the last of us' which i thought was too vulgar language. So you're right GTA is going to be something to avoid. But there are plenty of games that are perfectly fine, just as there are films and books and music.

Obviously, for play to fulfill its job as recreation it will, by definition, be in moderation, because pay is there is help us re-create, to de-stress, it should be to let off steam and not a central part of our life. I probably only play maybe 2-3 hours a week.

I think priests who oppose video games are weird and inconsistent. ... do they have a problem with someone playing a sport? of course not! Do they have a problem with someone reading a decent novel? no.

Video games therefore are fine so long as they are morally neutral games (like for example Pac Man, or Candy Crush, or Mario Kart or a spots game or a platform game), or even, on the rare occasion morally positive (where you have an RPG with an inspiring and christian themed message) and always only as a distraction, a small amount of play or diversion to provide recreation which we all need in order to flourish.
In Christ,

with the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Fr Higgins

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fou-Lu and the mystery of iniquity


I recently finished Breath of Fire 4 on the PS1 which had been my project for some time.

I wanted to play the game after noticing on a pretty large poll that the game's antagonist Fou-Lu, is considered one of the most "highly rated characters" across RPGS, in fact, he secures first place in that poll, with Vivi registering second.

What to make of Fou-Lu? Here is the summary for those who don't know about him. 7 facts about his character. Spoilers? Absolutely! But the game is about 20 years old now!

1) An incarnate dragon-god who comes to rule the world as its rightful emperor. Extremely powerful, great weapon, cool look, awesome magic.
2) His coming is foreknown by political powers who pursue him, jealous of their position, they attack him and attempt to kill him.
3) While his powers are still weak he is aided and supported and protected by a human women, to whom it seems he falls in love with.
4) A god who decides to just live out the human existence, who slots into the mundane, who loses the desire to rule and conquer the world, to put it under his subjection.
5) Eventually the political powers find him, they do their upmost again and again to kill him, they cannot, he is a dragon god! But in the end they turn him, they chase him from his village, I think they kill his girlfriend, and they cause him to grow hateful towards humans, for him to return to his first thought, that as god he ought to rule them, but now as one who is evil, destroying all humanity.
6) Fou-Lu is the 'other half' of the game's dull, non speaking, personality-less protagonist Ryu. The two must be fused into one (destiny, as always)
7) Eventually they meet up and fight it out, if you win the game, well Fou-Lu is destroyed, sucked into the dominant Ryu. If you get game-over presumably Ryu gets sucked into Fou-Lu but unfortunately we don't get to see the consequences from that one.

So, What to make of him?

Fou-Lou essentially grows to hate humanity because it's leaders have hated him, have rejected him as their god and rightful ruler. He allows this hatred to pervert him, to corrupt his goodness and the compassion for the greater part of humanity that he had developed.

He's interesting, and by far the most developed character of the otherwise mediocre game, but in terms of philosophy, profundity of thought- Fou-Lu is really nothing more than a typical revenge driven bad guy.

The highlight of his story is most definitely point (4), the period in which he strips himself of his greatness, of his power, and in humility sets about just living the mundane human existence and finding dignity in his humble farm work. There is something beautiful here, seeing a powerful dragon god choosing to put destructive powers to one side for the sake of helping a village and out of love for a woman who has saved his life.

But from then on, it goes down hill and we find nothing more than a revenge driven villain who has decided the best thing to do is to destroy absolutely everything. Nihilism. What will it gain? Nothing? Is it a reasonable choice? No, only a small group of humans has persecuted him. Is it a moral choice? Clearly no... to inflict great suffering indiscriminately, to destroy the world.....

Scratch and RPG villain and almost always you reach Kefka, deep down they are almost all Kefka with a different backstory.

In Kefka we find raw nihilism, someone who destroys simply for the sake of it, because he wills it. Kefka and all RPG villains are utterly incomprehensible, their actions never add up. And that is because of what theologians call "the mystery of iniquity".


The nature of evil is that it is dark, that the more you look and contemplate it the less "sense" it makes, they are dark, you don't get anything deep or rich out of contemplating them.

Often in our world, we hear evil or wicked people pathologised, or their evil rationalised in terms of some illness, as if they cannot help do this irrational and hurtful thing, typically we hear the guy is mentally ill or was abused as a child. This is the easy option, it makes you think you understand the criminal and what he has done. It is not the full truth though, the real truth is "the mystery of iniquity", the evil person has chosen to do evil, he has willed it, and that is the explanation, it is irrational, it is dark, it cannot be understood, that is what it means for something to be truly evil, for good to be tarnished, perverted, simply out of will. Try and get your head around it, you can't.

Divine truths, goodness, holiness, the dogmas of the faith, these on the contrary are mysteries of depth, the more you look at them, they more sense they make, the greater profundity they are shown to contain. They are light, you can gaze at them forever and always see more and rejoice more.

We shouldn't expect the 'greatest character' in RPG history to be aligned with evil, because ultimately evil is shallow, hollow, empty, ignoble, un-admirable, dis-edifying. There is no likeness of Christ, the true man, Who carries all perfections to their completion.

If there is greatness in any character it is due to his nearness to our Saviour and His virtues, this is even true of fictional characters. Christ must have the glory, all creatures must kneel before Him.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Without map or compass

In the original Legend of Zelda the Map and Compass are indispensable for surviving dungeons and reaching the boss. The map shows you the layout of the dungeon and the compass positions you in it.

In the pilgrimage of the Christian life, I think the map would be the teachings of Our Blessed Lord and saviour, preserved in the Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church that He founded- this constitutes the way to Eternal Life.

The compass I think would be the interior life, the daily life of prayer composed of mental prayer, examination of conscience and perhaps above all, the sacrament of confession. Through these powerful means we can discern where we are headed, how we stand with regards to that map, whether we are near the end of the dungeon, close to completing it, or perhaps down a dead end.

How tragic for the worldlings and for the followers of false religions, they have neither map nor compass- where will they end up? They can send Link a thousand times round the dungeon but without map or compass they have little chance of coming out alive.

Praise be Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ for providing us with the Map and Compass in His One True Church.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

In defense of Metal Gear for the NES

It's an old story, the MSX version of MG was fantastic but then apparently hopelessly ported to the NES in a short space of time and outside of the control and oversight of Kojima....

But you know what... I have played the MSX version, I've played through it, I've tried to complete it, but imho, for all the supposed inadequacies of the NES version, I actually prefer it.

I prefer the fact that you have to infiltrate the base at the beginning, that is fantastic! People love MGS3 for that reason and I think it is a great touch. In the MSX version.... meh.... you start out in the base already.... not very sneaky.

And as to the fact you don't fight Metal Gear? SO WHAT? Why should you? I actually thought it stupid in MGS that you actually fought Metal Gear, it is meant to be a mobile device that fires nukes.... not something designed for combat with a single man. It stands to reason that it makes more sense to destroy the computer that controls the thing and also the man who is operating it.... which is exactly what you do in MG Nes.... Imagine someone having a fight against an ICBM machine, that would be dumb, it wouldn't be an opponent... it would not be geared up to fight you, and you would be able to take it out easily.... so that's why it doesn't matter that you don't fight Metal Gear.

And above all.....

The MUSIC in the NES version is absolutely superior! The MSX music is painful, dull and something to mute as soon as you can. The NES music is fantastic! It is exciting, it is tense, it is an amazing score and whoever produced it should be proud of themselves.

I could write more on this, but I need to prepare to offer Holy Mass, which isn't in 5 mins, but in 30 mins by the way. Priests should prepare for Holy Mass properly.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What does it profit a man...?

I was in my local Second Hand games store today, I'm not a collector of games, but I enjoy keeping an eye on how much things go for these days, and I like to see in real life a few of the old games I used to play and enjoy.

Anyway, as often happens on these trips, I was thrown back by the price of a few of the old games I saw, especially some very mediocre PS1 games, games being sold with a price tag WAAAAY beyond their quality! It's incredible! Star Ocean 2, £79! Ehrgeiz, £49! Then looking over to the SNES- Secret of Evermore, £79! And for the NES, Popeye, £79!

It got me thinking a little bit later about the value we put on things,

These games are expensive more because they are rare than because they are good, they are sought after, they have a value from their limited availability.

And then what about my immortal soul?

The crazy thing is, in God's point of view, my soul has a value of an inestimable amount, it was ransomed neither by gold or silver, but the blood of the lamb without stain.

So we are talking like a Stadium Events or something, really rare, super valuable.

And what am I willing to trade my soul in for?

Thank Almighty God for instituting the sacrament of confession....He didn't need to, it could have been a no refunds policy- you trade your soul in once, you've lost it. Praise the Mercy of Almighty God for confession, we can get that Stadium Events back even if we traded it in for Fifa 2000, we can come before Almighty God in humility, through His minister the Catholic Priest, a be restored once again with that precious soul, that soul of incomparable worth- My friends, keep it mint in box, so that when its true owner inspects it He finds it worthy of His collection.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Corpus Christi


Not about video games but about reality.


This morning, I held between my thumb and finger a small piece of bread, and with sacred words uttered in almost silence, I held Jesus Christ, my saviour, my Lord, Who loves me, Who knows me, the lot marked out for me.

I, chosen among thousands, His beloved.

What a privilege! A greater act than the creation of the universe, an intimacy even the angels do not possess. When I am tempted to hold other things, other people, other life options,
I look at Him, Who is hiding between my thumb and forefinger.

HE is Mine and I am His. And I realize that to exchange this for anything else, even the whole world, would be madness, would be folly to the utmost, because I am holding Him, my true end, my lasting good, the summum bonum.

O priest, all this is yours!

To turn away from this, is to turn away from Him.




-Fr. Mark Higginsx
x