I’m sure the answer is “no”.
People have been taking self-portraits for as long as we’ve had cameras. But the word ‘Selfie’ didn’t originate until 2002, when an Australian man posted an alcohol-related image to the internet.
Yet, Final Fantasy VIII’s official release was in 1999. And of course, the game features a character named Selphie. Selphie‘s just like any normal teenager, “childish, upbeat, and hyperactive”. She does teenager things, like join clubs, maintain her website, and troll others with outlandish comments:
Selphie: “Well, we could skin this little guy and wear him as a disguise…”
Selphie: “I’m kidding! I’m kidding!”
Zell: (Doesn’t sound like you are…)
She also films footage of herself. Most notably is the ending FMV:
Balamb Garden celebrates Ultimecia’s defeat and Selphie videotapes the festivities and saves Zell from choking on hot dogs. Irvine seizes the camera from her, Selphie wears his cowboy hat and gets jealous when he flirts with other girls. She directs Irvine to film the balcony where Squall and Rinoa are about to share a kiss, but the battery dies before it is caught on tape.
In the video, she constantly smiles at the camera. I’m sure people did this occasionally, before the 90’s. Yet, Selphie is doing a lot by the way of internet culture. She trolls. She updates a website. This website acts as a LiveJournal of sorts. But LiveJournal launched on April 15th, 1999. Development for Final Fantasy VIII began in 1997. She’ll later post the video to that website (presumably). The video will contain several selfies of her reacting to an event as if she were a human emoji. She’s taking selfies. This teenage girl took selfies in 1999. Selphie was first.
Of course, I don’t think there’s any connection between the Final Fantasy character or the meme. Selphie’s name could be a play on the word Sylph. However, the Japanese names don’t support this. Selphie is:
セルフィ・ティルミット, Serufi Tirumitto
The words are significantly different, despite how they sound in English.
Plus, she never refers to any of the pictures she takes as a “selfie”. Simply looking into the character is just something Selphie did. She’s so energetic as a character, it’s as if she’s interacting with the viewer.
But there’s just so much to consider. What if Selphie inspired the originator of the word ‘Selfie’? Does anyone know if he played Final Fantasy VIII? He could have, in his drunken stupor, subconsciously took on the personality of Selphie when posting his selfie. This is definitely a Selphie-type of selfie she would take. In this sense, Selphie originated – not the word – the idea of the selfie.
How true is any of this? I don’t know. What do you think?