The actual fantasy in Final Fantasy XIV is proudly owning a rattling home

Every week, I put 3 million of my hard-earned cash into an enterprise that I do know will lead to disappointment: the Eorzean housing lottery, the place the percentages have, up to now, by no means been in my favor. Every week, I lose. I’m going acquire my computerized refund, after which I’ve just a little giggle at that well-known quote about the definition of insanity, which entails doing the identical factor repeatedly and anticipating totally different outcomes. Nothing exemplifies this insanity higher than the ordeal of making an attempt — and failing and making an attempt once more — to purchase a home in Final Fantasy XIV, a sport that leans into the comically opaque paperwork that surrounds fashionable dwelling possession whereas additionally serving as a tragic, determined scratch card.

Having a house base is a vital a part of the RPG expertise, and FFXIV isn’t any totally different. But getting housing in Eorzea is a vastly totally different creature to the type of ad-hoc settlements in Fallout or homesteads in Skyrim. Bureaucracy is an integral a part of the sport, and there’s a bleak sliver of humor in seeing it spring to life across the acquisition of a digital home in a fantasy world. But there’s an unhinged magnificence in the way in which FFXIV embraces the formal order of administrative course of and process, particularly after I dutifully log in week after week to find that I’ve, as soon as once more, misplaced a small plot to somebody named Zaddy Holemilk. 

The final time I went to take a look at a home that I misplaced, the proprietor had crammed the yard with twinkling lights, sleek bushes, and a cute patio set. I don’t care about constructing a restaurant, and I don’t wish to maintain home events. I’m a easy catgirl, and I simply need a dwelling

I’m a easy catgirl, and I simply need a dwelling

One may surprise why you even want a home because the consistently adventuring Warrior of Light — all people loves you, and there’s all the time a free inn room in each metropolis. The reply is: why not? Housing in FFXIV is the primary attraction for gamers thinking about social roleplay and design initiatives. There’s an enormous universe of furnishings and decor choices and finicky placement tips that take time and apply to grasp. Houses function blank canvases to remodel into something from fashionable mansions and themed cafes to nightclubs and bathhouses. Some gamers “hire” others to work at their restaurants and shops (sure, there are 18-plus roleplay venues and brothels); working a well-liked “business” is usually a viable means of creating in-game cash by way of participant suggestions. The residential neighborhoods in every essential metropolis have totally different vibes. For occasion, Gridania has the flowery, Disney-like Lavender Beds, and Limsa Lominsa has The Mist, a serene beachside enclave that continues to be the white whale of my actual property goals. 

Image: Square Enix

Houses, or fairly their plots, are available three sizes: small, medium, and enormous, every dearer than the final. There’s out of doors furnishings and landscaping decor. Having a home additionally permits you to put in a chocobo secure and facilities that imply you by no means have to go away should you don’t wish to. Pulling up the residential district listing at every metropolis’s aetheryte shard will listing which homes are open to guests. Until patch 6.1, housing was a first-come, first-served system, the place gamers needed to squat in entrance of a doubtlessly obtainable home and anticipate an invisible timer to expire. Needless to say, it was powerful, and it was nearly not possible for a median participant to get a home. The lottery system was launched to deal with this perceived housing crisis in Eorzea, and since that hasn’t precisely panned out — there’s nonetheless an enormous demand and scant provide of obtainable properties — sport director Naoki Yoshida introduced that they’ll be unrolling more housing wards in January. (Square Enix not too long ago introduced that it’s additionally reinstating automatic demolition, which suggests your home goes bye-bye should you don’t log in and enter your property sufficient.) 

For some, the evolution of housing tradition in FFXIV has grow to be intertwined with discussions concerning the potential form of the metaverse, an oversold idea that continues to wilfully ignore the myriad methods wherein individuals already reside and work and carry out on-line. Valve chief Gabe Newell, a reasonably latest FFXIV convert, went viral earlier within the 12 months for mentioning the game’s most popular aetheryte plaza in the identical breath as each tech bro’s favourite fever dream. It’s not sufficient that FFXIV is already a functioning alternate universe for a lot of gamers who inhabit its realms — it’s additionally grow to be a tedious touchstone for basic discussions about digital property, which theoretically shouldn’t endure from the identical shortage issues as real-world housing markets. 

I’ve, as soon as once more, misplaced a small plot to somebody named Zaddy Holemilk

While the US housing market is an countless geyser of nightmares, the FFXIV housing state of affairs truly has just a little extra in widespread with Singapore, which has a extremely centralized and managed public housing market. Last 12 months, I purchased a public housing flat with assist from my late grandparents, each single authorities grant I used to be eligible for, and a painfully lengthy mortgage. We don’t use a lottery system, however the present public housing mannequin can typically create a “lottery effect” the place some first-time consumers resell their flats (after a hard and fast period of time) for a a lot larger worth; this implies a bit extra long-term planning for sure consumers with an eye fixed towards funding. There’s additionally a protracted waitlist for brand spanking new estates — buddies who’ve signed up for brand spanking new, built-to-order flats received’t have the ability to transfer in for at the very least 5 years due to pandemic-related building and labor points. The system is completely hostile to queer folks and non-traditional families. Ultimately, shopping for a public housing flat isn’t true possession — it’s a 99-year lease from the federal government, which might stretch throughout just a few generations till it goes again to the state. 

Of course, FFXIV’s housing lottery isn’t topic to those restrictions — gil is gil, and the one factor that issues is touchdown the profitable quantity. What it shares with Singapore’s public housing system is twofold. First, it wears the comforting veneer of a good and open paperwork prepared to assist the keen home-owner — all you want is a pile of cash. Second, it perpetuates the same type of want achievement at a curious time when so many discussions about know-how mission real-world hang-ups onto an intangible fantasy area the place we shouldn’t have shortage issues. I didn’t know I wished a home in Eorzea till I discovered that I may have a home in Eorzea, and now I can’t relaxation till I get a home in Eorzea. Will I get one? Probably not, however in all my years of MMOs and RPGs, I’ve by no means been fairly so hooked on the concept of a digital home till now. 

A screenshot of the video game Final Fantasy XIV.

Image: Square Enix

The concept of a home was one of many first ways in which early laptop customers tried to translate their digital presence into one thing acquainted and “real.” One of the primary on-line “houses” was the early Nineteen Eighties social gaming community known as GameMaster, a shared digital mansion that ran on a subscription membership. It was decidedly primitive by right now’s requirements — guests relied on written descriptions to get a really feel of the place, which had 39 rooms unfold throughout six flooring. Members may play video games in themed areas, together with backgammon, warfare video games, and even a truck supply sport known as Twelve Wheeler. They may flick thru shared recipes within the kitchen or focus on images within the darkroom; there have been additionally convention rooms that members may reserve forward of time and mailrooms with particular person mailboxes. It was greater than a home — it was a neighborhood. 

“The mansion isn’t a house; it’s a philosophy. It’s intended to appeal to — and it does — people who understand where the world is going and are helping it get there,” stated Paul Martin, certainly one of GameMaster’s co-creators, in a 1981 interview with Softalk. Martin’s phrases right now really feel readily relevant to fashionable life and our hybrid existence each on- and offline, besides with out the singular, obsessive deal with possession. Looking again at it right now, GameMaster appears like an impossibly pure, idealized dream. Eventually, through the years, our collective fascination with exploring the concept of “home” on the pc grew right into a whole subcategory of interior design programs that, in flip, influenced a slew of life sim video games. 

Maybe it’s the concept of a hard and fast dwelling that appeals to me as somebody who’s spent most of their life shifting round. But a great chunk of my era’s concept of “home” — at the very least these of us who grew up in an age of Geocities neighborhoods — is tied to the concept of building an internet presence. If housing in FFXIV is a philosophy, it’s a philosophy that runs alongside the traces of personal dwelling possession as want achievement whereas inexplicably retaining mundane issues that we shouldn’t have to fret about after actually surviving the apocalypse in Endwalker. Looking again on the Doman reconstruction content material within the Stormblood enlargement, the Warrior of Light nearly singlehandedly financed the reconstruction of a complete enclave for a war-torn neighborhood. It wouldn’t be not possible — particularly now that my WoL is even stronger and richer and extra well-connected than she was in Stormblood — to construct a modest mansion for myself (no, the Island Sanctuary doesn’t depend as a home). 

But shortage breeds want, and housing merely wouldn’t be as engaging if each participant mechanically obtained a home after they hit the extent cap (in the event that they ever implement this, which they received’t — but when they do, I’ll lose my thoughts). And so, FFXIV’s housing philosophy bends towards recreating the executive buildings and procedures that stand between us and the thing of our want whereas additionally enshrining all the course of in a curious mixture of probability and order. As for what this philosophy helps us towards, it’s not some glorified imaginative and prescient of the metaverse. It’s the nice and cozy, comforting bosom of personal possession that already defines most of recent life. In quick, it’s not driving us towards something new — it’s simply sort of humorous that Square Enix would select to create a housing scarcity in a fantasy world and even funnier that it’s grow to be an ongoing participant gripe as a “crisis.” 

The truth stays that in contrast to GameMaster’s area of interest philosophy, which made sense in 1981 when precise homes have been still affordable, FFXIV understands the common attraction of getting a spot of 1’s personal to maintain the lottery scorching — in any case, I may win the following one, and if not, the one after that or the one after that. We know the world goes to hell, and, god assist me, I simply need my online game home earlier than we get there. 

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