Interrogations of Masculinity and Struggles of Performed Masculinity in Late Final Fantasy

HOWE QCon 2015 headshotSPEAKER: Austin Howe

I will be giving a talk about struggles with masculinity in the late Final Fantasy series (VII and after essentially), especially the most prevalent examples in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII, and how they relate to both my struggles with masculinity growing up, how they intersect with depictions of mental health (Cloud having PTSD, Squall being clinically depressed), and how all of these things complicate straightforward 101 feminist readings of these games (the concerns those readings raise being very valid, but also often failing to consider a certain amount of context.)

As well, I will be talking about the ways in which more recent Final Fantasy games validate certain aspects of toxic masculinity that the PS1-era titles investigated both more critically and with more empathy. (X validates Jecht’s abuse and neglect of Tidus, XIII sort of abjectly refuses to investigate Snow’s “Heroes always/never [x]!” thing which is clearly meant to show him as a masculine archetype.)

Hi, my name is Austin C. Howe. I’ve been writing game criticism for about 2 years now, my work has been published in Five Out of Ten magazine, Memory Insufficient,The Ontological Geek, Jed Pressgrove’s blog Game Bias and my work has been curated a number of times on Critical Distance. I only recently came out and am still exploring both my sexual and gender identity, but for right now I identify as queer and masculine non-binary.