Tor.com content by

K.W. Colyard

Saving Aerith: Life and Death in Final Fantasy VII

Narrative video games provide the perfect platform to examine narrative framing and the viewing experience. The player moves the hero character, their in-game avatar, through the game world via a series of maps, each of which is shown from a different camera angle that the player may or may not be able to change or control. These camera angles, particularly those which the player is not allowed to control, help to shape how players feel about the heroes they embody. Camera angles used in in-game cinematics play much the same role in narrative video games as they do in films, provoking emotion and awe in the audience member. When players can no longer control the game’s camera, at the moment of the cutscene, they lose the authority and autonomy they held as the player/hero and becomes merely a player/viewer.

Released in 1997, Square’s Final Fantasy VII puts players in control of Cloud Strife, a mercenary hired as a bodyguard for flower seller Aerith Gainsborough, who is wanted by the corporatocratic government entity known as Shinra, and is murdered in the final scene of the game’s first act.

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I Love David Lynch’s Dune in Spite of Its Faults

I turned seven the year Star Wars celebrated its 20th anniversary. The space opera film trilogy’s re-release on VHS turned into a three-night movie event in my house, which in turn spawned my lifelong love affair with the franchise. I read the Star Wars Encyclopedia for fun, absorbing stories about Cindel Towani, Guri, and Nomi Sunrider, and I practiced using my Force powers, Silent Bob-style.

And so, when my father came home from the video store a year later with a new cassette, pointed to the foregrounded man in black, and said, “This boy is a prince, and he’s sort of like a Jedi,” well, you can imagine just how sold I was.

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Karin Tidbeck’s Amatka and the Use of Language in Dystopian Science Fiction

I have a complicated relationship with Nineteen Eighty-Four. To this day, it remains the only book that has ever bored so deeply into my head that I could not bring myself to finish it. This, after multiple attempts, spread across nearly 20 years of a life lived happily in the stacks of libraries and bookstores.

I think about George Orwell’s novel more days than not. Sometimes I think that Nineteen Eighty-Four is the book that truly made me fall in love with language. Newspeak, the propagandic language created by the Party to limit expression and thought, permeates my own thoughts, which mentally—and hyperbolically—declare inconvenient situations as “doubleplusungood.”

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