Well, here we are. The final Gaming Inspirations Character Profile. Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far – I’m not known for finishing things I start. I guess that’s what happens when you really care about a project you’re undertaking, though; it’s a lot less work and a lot more fun when you actually give a hoot!
Naturally, I saved the best for last: my favorite character in media, the cheeky rogue, the monkey-tailed thief and protagonist of the greatest game of all time, Zidane Tribal.
The reason Zidane is the absolute goddamn best is simple: he’s the linchpin, without whom everything falls apart. This is common in terms of plot: having an event in the beginning of the story that unifies the main players isn’t exactly an innovation. Zidane unifies much more than that: the story, the party, the entire FFIX universe rides on the existence of this one character. He is the messiah of the game, the only piece of the puzzle that, if removed, utterly dooms the universe and, if included, ensures the triumph of existence over nothingness.
Hello, friends, and welcome to the SEVENTH (and penultimate!) Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series! “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life. Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters. Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.
Today we’re going to talk about the character with the most depressing damn story of them all: Freya Crescent.
Freya was a powerful Dragon Knight of the proud kingdom of Burmecia. She and her lover, Sir Irontail Fratley, hefted their mighty javelins to protect their kingdom and its people from all comers.
… That is, until Fratley disappears, leaving Freya to go on years-long quest to find him, not knowing whether he’s alive or dead, whether her journey is completely in vain.
The FFIX crew meet up with her in Lindblum, where she’s drowning her sorrows in a tavern. Soon after, she gets word that her kingdom has been attacked (which is what happens when your best soldiers disappear for years, who would’ve known), and she rushes back to find Burmecia in ruins and nearly everyone dead.
She and the rest of the party meet a group of Burmecians in the ruins, learning that the King of Burmecia and other refugees are escaping to the nearby kingdom of Cleyra, which is surrounded by a protective sandstorm. The Burmecians beg Freya to join them. Freya and the rest of the party say no, continue on, and get their asses kicked by Beatrix, presumably with Queen Brahne and Kuja laughing in the background.
Okay, Freya’s story hasn’t been great so far. After their drubbing, the party goes to Cleyra, and Freya participates in a ritual dance that keeps the sandstorm up and running. Naturally, as soon as Freya joins in on the dance, the strings on the ritual harp snap and the sandstorm subsides, allowing the Black Mage army that decimated Burmecia to roll right on in.
Well, finally, we get some good news: during the attack, when the party is surrounded, a dragon knight comes to save the day! GASP! HOLY DICKTITS, IT’S FRATLEY! Freya’s lover! The one she’s been searching for all this time! Hooray! Freya is so excited! She embraces her lover, gushing about everything she’s been through!…
… Aaaaaaand Fratley lost his memory. No idea who Freya is.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Oh, right, the attack. That’s still happening. Yeah, there’s a little minigame where you try to randomly direct people to escape (and if you get it wrong, black mages promptly kill these innocents), and when the party escapes (with Freya in Jim-Carrey-in-Eternal-Sunshine-level despair), they look back and see Queen Brahne, who summons Odin and promptly blows up the entire kingdom.
… And that’s Disc 1, and a bit of Disc 2. Out of 4.
Incredibly, it does get better – at the end of the game, it shows Freya and Fratley together again (though he still doesn’t remember the past), chillin’ in Burmecia and havin’ a grand old time.
There’s only one quality that truly defines Freya’s character, and it is her stubborn unwillingness to surrender when she puts her mind to something. Everyone in the game runs into trouble; everyone has their existential crises and moments of self-doubt (and even despair). Everyone has a rough go of it at some point, but I don’t think it’s hard to argue that Freya’s path to happiness was the longest and most riddled with opportunities to give up.
She never does.
Even when she’s getting the shit kicked out of her by Beatrix. Even when she embraces her long-lost love and he responds with “…uhh… who the fuck are you?”. Oh, and let’s not forget that she’s been looking for this dude for years before the events of the game take place.
Man, Freya is such a beast.
INCORPORATING THESE QUALITIES
As with most things, perseverance can be trained; the key is to start off small. If you’ve never lifted weights before, you wouldn’t walk into the gym, fill a bar with 5 45-pound plates, and try to lift it – that’d be a bit silly. There’s no way you’d succeed. You’d use lighter weights, get the form down, and slowly work your way up to bigger weights as you got stronger. The same concept applies to perseverance: set the task up in such a way that it’s easy for you to win, and encourages progression.
Take your time, and think to yourself: what is something I want to do that, if I worked at it for ten minutes every day, I could do in six months? This could be anything: shredding guitar, writing a novel, and literally drinking enough Jim Beam to kill a horse are all valid things that you might be able to do (good luck with that third one). It doesn’t necessarily have to be productive; just make it something that, six months from now, you would look back and say “yeah, I’m glad I did that”. For example, my goal is to be able to do a full side split six months from now. Why? Cuz fuck it, I wanna be able to do a split, that’s why. I’ve been spending ten minutes a day stretching, concentrating on the muscles required to do a split in particular (groinulars (very scientific, I know), hips, legs, blabla). Even if I don’t get there in six months, I’ll be much more flexible than I am now. That’s the beauty of perseverance: it sounds obvious, but every little bit that you do to get closer to your goal will… well, it’ll get you closer to your goal. Even if you fail to get the results in the timeframe that you set for yourself, the incremental gains you make are not lost. The only time you lose is when you give up, and we’re rigging the game so that our chances of giving up are minimal.
There will be forces that try to stop you: impatience, negativity (either from within or from others), uncontrollable events in life. There will be days that, even when the bar is set this low, you will fail.
This is where perseverance is trained. It’s not in the doing; it’s in the doing again, after you fuck up. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you, because you will inevitably fail. So fail with grace; when you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and keep on goin’. One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Sharon Salzburg, has a saying: “The healing is in the return”. Use your inevitable failure as a learning experience, another exercise that will help to hone your focus and lead you to a better life.
I’ll leave ya with one of my favorite Rocky clips, where he’s talking to his kid and… well, you’ll see the Freya-type philosophy in the speech pretty darn quick: