Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia

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Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner

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Hello, friends, and welcome to the second 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’s profile is about the fan-favorite Black Mage, Vivi.

CHARACTER SUMMARY

Vivi is a Black Mage: he harnesses the powers of the elements to lay waste to his enemies.  In the beginning of the game, this fact is taken at face value; as in, “okay, there are beings in this world that don’t have faces and have giant glowy eyes and wear funky hats.  Cool.”  Soon, though, the tone changes: a factory is found that is filled with Vivi-looking dolls on an assembly line.  A bunch of other fuckery goes down, and it’s eventually revealed that Vivi’s body is no more than a shell, filled with a manufactured “soul” made outta Mist, which is basically the broken-down dregs of souls of people who’ve died.  As you can imagine, this causes a bit of an existential-angsty stir in Vivi’s psyche.  But with the help of the friends that he gains throughout the game, he learns what it is to truly be.

Then, he dies.  But at least he learned some good shit along the way!  Let’s examine!

QUALITIES

Inquisitive

Vivi: I don’t think I really understand what it means to live or to die. Where do we come from…? Do we go back there when we die…? If that’s what it means to live… I wonder where I came from… Where will I end up when I die…? Why am I shaking? What is it I’m feeling…?

Vivi’s around 9 years old, and he grew up in a cave.  It shows: he doesn’t seem knowledgeable about… well, much of anything, really.  But he’s always willing to learn, and isn’t afraid to ask questions, especially to those he admires and respects, like Zidane.  This becomes less of an asset when he learns more about what he’s made of and where he comes from, and it gets REALLY intense when he hears about the other Black Mages “stopping,” which, for all intents and purposes, is exactly like dying.  When he learns about this, and learns that his kind don’t tend to live very long… yeah, he freaks out a bit.  But can ya blame him?  Imagine being 9 years old, and someone walking up to you and saying “You’re not a person like me; you’re a shell full of the fragments of other peoples’ souls.  Oh, and you’re gonna die soon.”  I’d say “freaking the fuck out” and “asking some pretty uncomfortable questions about mortality and what it means to be alive” would be a pretty natural reaction.  Regardless of what pushed Vivi to ask these questions, the point is that he asked them, and that’s the sort of existential inquisitiveness that makes Vivi such a dynamic character.

Sense of Wonder

Along with his inquisitive nature, growing up in a cave seems to have given Vivi a sense of awe and appreciation for the outside world.  In the very beginning of the game, he’s seen wandering around Alexandria, and appears to be amazed at the airship he notices flying overhead, while everyone else keeps bustlin’ down the street, paying no heed.  The fear of imminent death put a bit of a damper on this throughout much of the game, but it’s still evident throughout, and especially in his heartbreaking speech at the end of the game.

Trust

 Steiner: “Master Vivi, why would those mages be the same as you? And why would it matter if they were?”
   Zidane: “Rusty’s right! You’re an individual, no matter what happens, Vivi!”

Vivi’s certainly a reserved character, but he tends to trust others quickly, and take their words to heart.  This is a great quality when he’s listening to Zidane tell him that he’s not a mindless automaton, that he deserves life and lives as fully as a normal human; it’s, uh, less great when he listens to Kuja tell him… the opposite.  Once again, this propensity to trust to a fault probably has something to do with being raised by a Qu in a fucking cave (Does anyone else find that backstory, uh, a little strange?).

You might be a little odd if this crazy-lookin’ bastard raised you, too.

Questions.  Cool.  Wonder.  Got it.  Trust.  Sure.  But how do I incorporate those into my life with physical action?

BY READING THE NEXT SECTION OF THIS POST, OF COURSE!

Inquisitiveness: Read a book.  Yes, the ones made out of actual paper.  (An e-reader that isn’t connected to the internet is also acceptable.)

In case you forgot what they looked like. Easy to do in today’s world.

A wizard ain’t shit without their spellbook.  Before this past July, I hadn’t read a book, cover-to-cover, in ages.  I read a lot on the internet and stuff, but that’s mostly, y’know, sports articles and stuff (not saying that that isn’t fulfilling; it’s just a different kind of reading).  But, on a whim, I decided to pick up the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book.  I read them when I was a kid, and thought, “hey, what the hell.”

Those books are incredible.  I read all thirteen of ’em within a month, and have been reading and writing more ever since.  You never know where or when inspiration will strike, which is why being like Vivi and always exploring the world around you, or the worlds in books, is very important.

Works of fiction, unlike car manuals or Buzzfeed articles about puppies, tend to delve deeper into the meaning of existence; they’re not beholden to the truth, so they don’t have to worry about being accurate in that sense.  The world is whatever the writer wants it to be, which allows them (and their readers) to examine deeper truths.  Vivi examines these existential questions throughout the game, and this is the inquisitiveness that reading can bring into your life.

Sense of Wonder: Try something you’ve never tried before.

If Vivi had lived in Quan’s Dwelling his entire life, he would’ve never gone on an epic adventure, sharing incredible experiences with new friends.  Just this morning, I went to a Zumba class.  First time ever.  I don’t dance.  I was the only dude in there.  I looked like an idiot, I’m sure.  But guess what?  It was a great workout, and I actually had a lot of fun.  I’ll definitely go again next week.

There’s always a transition period.  If you try something new, you’ll probably suck at it.  But guess what?  Sucking at stuff is valuable, too.  Which is better: loving what you do even though you suck, or being really good at something you hate?  Your new passion that tremendously improves your life could be five minutes away, waiting for you to discover it.

Trust: Ask questions.  Don’t be afraid to look stupid.

As I mentioned before, Vivi doesn’t seem to know much about the outside world – its social cues, its dynamics.  When he asks a question, it’s from a place of wanting to learn more, and that’s a noble place to be.

Personally, I’m terrified of asking questions – what if someone laughs at me for not knowing?  What if they think I’m stupid?

Vivi inspires me to answer these with another question:  Who cares?

Seriously, fuck it.  If you don’t know something, and you want to, ask!  If someone’s a dick about it, then fuck them!  It’s irrelevant!  Asking someone who knows is the quickest way to learn something new, and guess what?  When you ask, you learn.  Quest complete.  I had to do this when my new public-transport card didn’t work on the train in my new city (I’m from Vermont; public transport is barely a thing).  The person I asked on the train looked at me funny, but explained how the card worked, and guess what?  I’m not going to run into that mistake again.  I’m so glad I asked, and so glad I know.

One really, really cool thing about examining the qualities of these characters is realizing that they’re all connected: just like with the qualities detailed in my Steiner post, working on even one of these Vivi-like qualities will improve your chances of future success in all of them.  Maybe you’ll read a book and develop an interest in something you never would’ve expected, and you go to a meeting with like-minded people and meet the love of your life and BAM!  Your life changes in a completely unexpected way, and it’s all because you tried something new that one time.

Virtuous cycles are the shit.  Vivi’s the shit.  FFIX is the shit.  Hopefully I’ve been able to impart a bit of the inspiration that Vivi gives me to you.

Coming up on Thursday: another Character Profile!  I’m going to keep this one a surprise, though 😉

Stay classy, fair readers!

Tom’s Take on the Beginning of FFIX (Published 2/17/2013)

I really like our first guest blog post.  Tom’s a great friend of mine, and he’s the one who introduced me to FFIX all those years ago.  He’s got some great insight to the game.  He wrote this after listening to our audio (yes, we recorded ourselves playing FFIX;  if you want the audio, I can provide it), so if you’re confused by the few times he says “Like you guys said”, etc., that’s what he’s talking about.

Besides some minor grammatical editions, the following is straight from him.

Final Fantasy 9 Blog

1:  Intro – Dark Forest

The game itself is kind of like an enlightenment game, both figuratively and literally.    It brings up many themes from older games. I mean the originals; it’s coming off of the two most industrial and modern Final Fantasies, but FFIX is instead bringing us back to those ones we love so much.  X and XII follow this theme as well to some extent.  And I agree with most of what you guys said though those two games I mentioned aren’t that bad and even though they change some aspects they still follow the heart of the series.

Commonalities: Vivi’s look is a bring back to what is probably the most common look of a black mage, not knowing who the main character is in the beginning, like the originals, Vivi starts out with ???? Just like the original FF, then we also are introduced to the cinematic with Garnet and Zidane, so we really have no idea who we are going to play as.  Which is great because it allows the fluidity that comes up later where we play through others as they go through their own choices?  Though unlike what you said Zidane is clearly 100% the hero, the story lives and dies with his choices, the others have their own hero moments, even taken Zidane out of that role, but overall it’s him.

This game in my eyes is a two act play.  With discs 1 and 2 being act 1, and discs 3 and 4 being act 2.  It just flows more like a play than it does a movie.

The world is very elaborate and strange, where just about every person is something new; even the main characters have a wide variety to them, which again makes this game something special. It’s not building off of an existing world; it’s making something completely strange and unique.

Music, another just so much win, though to echo your point about it being actually around in the game rather than it just being on top of it.  Again this is an echo to earlier games, with FF3/6’s Overture and Wedding, where the songs actually change pace to reflect different voices that were singing or talking.  But again, I love the music so much, but that’s the whole series.  On the Cinematics, I agree with you again, for the time period they are very well done even now, you can see the emotions of every character, they are fluid, smooth, just great, and we have only seen a couple of them at this point in time…. Ugh they get so good.

Where are we now, love the play, which in turn is a play within a play and also mirrors the first act of the game, and it’s even used later on in the game, another reason I say the game is a play because it’s cyclical, not linear.  Love the swordfight scene, and I have gotten 100/100 as well I think I got it first too but we don’t need to get in to that.  Now on to Steiner, we know he is important, because we get to name him, though we could see him as goofy and bumbling, he is the picture of zeal and virtue, innocent even, blindly following orders because they must be right.  And you say he is so over exaggerated and yes he is but in Alexandria it seems that men are second class, so he kind of has to be to even stand a chance at being on the same level of Beatrix, which no one is since she is amazing.  So we go through boss fights which are really jokes and you know it, just stealing battles.  Blah blah, Garnet joins which I a bit of a twist since you don’t name her, and she is a princess that kidnaps herself.

Oh and about Brahne. Well, FF games are notorious for having characters parents being dead or going to die, with that we know that the Queen and Princess aren’t really related, at least it’s implied with the opening cinematic.  So anyway she is a very evil character, no not nearly as bad as Kuja but moving on, she fires on a ship that has her daughter, it’s clear she doesn’t really care about Garnet at this point, and really is more worried about the pendant being taken.  And with Zorn and Thorn and even how she talks to Beatrix, it’s clear that she isn’t right in the head, and with Garnet suddenly wanting to leave I agree that before the game we would see Brahne and the king being well normal.  Saving spoilers and what not for later where we can discuss other reasons, but you guys have spoiled enough already.

Then we have the cinematic with the unusually coincidental, harpoon and bomb firing cannons that are all facing where the theatre ship is, guess that’s to defend against Lindblum or whatever but anyway, this finally brings us into the darkness, literally as the ship crashes into the Dark Forest, another common theme of FF games, evil forests, it’s a nice play at something that is normally good, being nature and like the first real boss flowers, and turning it over to show you just how bad this “Mist” you have been hearing about really is, you are safe nowhere, and who knows what is going to happen next. Such a great start to this amazing game.

Questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear them!

Wanna write your own guest post?  Feel free to hit me up at the email address to the left and we can make that happen 🙂