Speaking to people online can be fraught with miscommunication, but a recent interaction in Final Fantasy XIV made my week. A much more experienced player, out of nowhere, dropped a few thousand gil in my pockets to upgrade my wardrobe.
I started playing Final Fantasy XIV on the last day of my holiday break after a few friends mentioned they had been messing around with it. Picking up a massively multiplayer role-playing game the night before you go back to work is probably one of the worst ideas, but I’m nothing if not consistent in my poor decision-making. Soon, I had rolled a cute Au Ra (read: horned dragon person) conjurer, with the hopes of eventually becoming a white mage.
Final Fantasy XIV is neat, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve treated it as more than just a way to waste some time while my anxiety keeps me glued to social media. My friends and I all work vastly different hours, so I’ve spent the last week or so bumbling through the game’s early quests on my own. While the various cities are filled with other players, and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m matching up with other adventurers for dungeons, it still feels like a very personal, isolated experience.
That’s why, when a higher-leveled player tried to get my attention in the forested Black Shroud region, I was completely oblivious. It wasn’t until I absent-mindedly looked at my chat log that I realised someone was talking to me.
At first, the simple message asking if I was new made me scrunch up my face. My social anxiety unfortunately extends into online interactions, and I toyed with the idea of shutting Final Fantasy XIV down entirely rather than respond. But after struggling with the chat window a bit, I let them know that, yes, I was a new player. What follows is my best recollection of how the conversation went.
Player: “I noticed your gear is a little under-leveled for where you’re at, so I wanted to give you some money to buy stuff at the vendor.”
Me: “Oh ok!”
Player, trading me 25,000 gil: “Someone helped me out when I was first starting so I wanted to pay it forward.”
Me: “Thank you so much! That’s so nice!”
Player: “No worries. Anything else I can help with?”
Me: “No, I don’t think so!”
Player: “Alright, have fun.”
Me: “You too!”
And then the mysterious stranger flew off on their winged mount, never to be seen again. I’m still kicking myself for not taking down their name, because this was one of the most beautiful interactions I’ve had with another person in my entire life.
After finishing up my quests in the area, I headed back to the city-state of Gridania to sort through the marketplace, eventually settling on a variety of new items that have served me well thus far. I obviously had to go through the trouble of learning how to dye clothes to change the gear’s sickly yellow colour to a nice dark purple — which involved spiriting away to a completely different part of the world and fetching orange juice for a seafaring NPC — but such is life.
Final Fantasy XIV and other online games can be daunting at first, especially for someone like me with very little experience with MMORPGs outside of simple stuff like Maple Story and Runescape. It’s people like the player who helped me that truly realise the genre’s potential, and I’m happy to have learned that these sorts of experiences aren’t rare in the Final Fantasy XIV community.
Wherever you are, mysterious adventurer: thank you. I’ll be sure to do the same for someone else should I stick with the game long enough.