Final Fantasy VI has a lot of brilliant moments where the gameplay complements the story. The developers knew how to play on our emotions and predict what we might do while playing in the game. But then there are some moments that make us understand the developers knew how to play with human psychology. And sometimes, they did it just to bait and test us.
First, we all know what we should do at the Floating Continent in Final Fantasy VI: wait. Wait! Wait for Shadow! We can’t leave him behind. But quite a few people did. Why? Why wouldn’t they? The Floating Continent is crumbling. We’re under a time constraint to get out. Our last save was at least fifteen minutes ago. We don’t want to do this all over again, do we?
But if we want Shadow, we gotta wait for him. We gotta show him that friends matter and people help each other out.
The “trolling” comes from the chance given to us. It isn’t obvious we have to wait. Our characters don’t have to tell each other why they need to wait, they just know – in game. So when the text box says wait, they know why. But we, the players, might have forgotten Shadow was even with we to begin. We may have forgotten their promise:
Shadow: Just leave me here.
Sorry, that’s not happening!
But we’re under a lot of stress. We have to do switch-hitting puzzles, fight enemies, fight a boss, and watch a cutscene. Here Shadow leaves our party, again. Then we have to escape the Floating Continent, doing more puzzle, try to get shiny balls along the way. Sometimes frustratingly losing them forever aarrgghhh!!! All while time is running out. This pressure is causing us to forget our long-term memory involving that one ninja dude. So when we finally get to the end faced with the option to “wait”, we think “…wut, why?” and we pull a Kefka:
Kefka: “Wait,” he says… Do I look like a waiter?
Yes, that’s right. The game is testing us to see if we’d run off in the face of danger, much like Kefka would. And some of us, like me, took the bait. The game “trolled” us into making us act like the low-level cowardly villain of Final Fantasy VI. It’s not like we know Shadow may die. We jump before it’s time and we lose Shadow forever…
And the game gives us an option to save shortly afterward.
Not too long later in the World of Ruin, we meet Siegfried in the Figaro Caves. We approach him, and he says:
Siegfried: It’s dangerous beyond here. I’ll go ahead and clear out all the nasty, vile monsters. You just wait here, okay?
Ah, the waiting game.
We’ve been through this before. Maybe he’ll join our party? Maybe he’ll run out, and give us an item. Maybe he’ll run out in fear, and we’d have to fight the monster chasing him?
We can wait there all we want, Siegfred will not come out. I know from experience. Instead, we go into the caves to see him taking the treasure for himself!, completely contradicting what we’ve learned previously about waiting for someone.
Or maybe that’s just me?
Video games can give us a wide range of emotions. Final Fantasy VI excelled in this. The developers knew how to mess with our minds by baiting us, hence “trolling”. This kept us on our toes. But as responsible trolls, they’ve taught us something about life. Sometimes when we wait, good things come to us. Other times when we wait, we get nothing. Maybe we should wait for friends, not strangers? But maybe it’s better to wait, as the promise of benefits outweighs the cons.
Maybe it just doesn’t even matter in the long run?