Things Final Fantasy VII taught me about life

The cast of Final Fantasy VII remake standing in the city outskirts with a motorcycle.
The cast of Final Fantasy VII remake standing in the city outskirts with a motorcycle.
The main cast of Final Fantasy VII Remake (Artwork by Square Enix)

Environmental Consciousness

Way before the whole conversation about protecting the environment and saving the planet became a mainstream topic of discussion, Final Fantasy VII’s plot opens with an underground group of environmental activists plotting to bring a greedy, dictatorial, resource-sucking power company down.

Cloud, Tifa and Barret stand in front of the Avalanche graffiti wall in the Midgar slums.
Cloud, Tifa and Barret stand in front of the Avalanche graffiti wall in the Midgar slums.
Avalanche gave me my first exposure to environmental activism.

Capitalism & Social Injustice

I grew up in a country, where the 90s were more or less seen as a decade of constant progress and non-ceasing miracles. The Western lifestyle had reached its peak, unemployment was a non-existent concept and there was a generalized feeling of well-being and pride in our achievements as nations. Under these circumstances, it was extremely difficult for many mid or upper-class children and teenagers back then to even spend one minute questioning life around them. Life felt good so it was all good, period.

The entrance sequence to Midgar’s Sector 5 Slums.
The entrance sequence to Midgar’s Sector 5 Slums.
In Midgar, more than half of the population lives in slums like this.

Facing Past Trauma

Literally all of Final Fantasy VII’s characters have some big skeletons hidden in their closets. Cloud and Tifa are both still haunted by memories of losing their parents and homes to one man’s acts of revenge. Barret for many years holds on to the secret of how he lost lost his wife, his best friend, and his arm. Aerith always felt different and struggled to live a free life because of her ancestry.

Tifa’s life-changing moment, witnessing her father’s murder.

Addressing Mental Disorders

I don’t remember much meaningful talk around mental disorders in my social circle, well until my 25 years of age. There was always chatter about that “crazy neighbor” or that “depressed girl who should go out more” but that was pretty much it. There was always a veil of mystery around the topic of mental health and, believe it or not, as a child I learned more about it through TV series and video games than I did from real humans around me.

Cloud suffering from one of his many memory-triggering headaches.
Cloud suffering from one of his many memory-triggering headaches.
Cloud’s post-traumatic stress disorder is a recurring theme in the game.

Seeing Beyond Gender Stereotypes

Video games are a perfect study on masculinity and societal constructs around it. Although I love gaming, I have to admit the vast majority of titles play a quite detrimental role in solidifying gender stereotypes, portraying boys as “buff” and “badass” and girls as “pretty” or “pure”. On a first glance, Final Fantasy VII seems to be doing the same — but there’s a few too many twists thrown in the mix to actually make it stand out as a solid example of breaking gender stereotypes, without making any grand statements on the topic.

Cloud and Tifa have a deeper conversation under the Highwind airship.
Cloud and Tifa have a deeper conversation under the Highwind airship.
Cloud finally opens his heart to Tifa (1997 version)

Takeaways

Final Fantasy VII has been widely acclaimed for its strong script and character development, this is no news to anyone. However, what many fans fail to see (especially if they only played the original once) is that behind the game’s innovative design and gameplay lies a storyline full of obvious and not-so-obvious commentary about modern society.

Aerith gives Cloud a flower upon their first meeting.
Aerith gives Cloud a flower upon their first meeting.
Aerith giving Cloud a flower is admittedly the game’s most iconic scene.

Digital marketer @overflowapp 💻, language nerd, and RPG fanatic 🎮 Into Tech, Politics, Pop Culture & Trivia.

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