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Oh, *yeah*, Square Enix?

Oh, *yeah*, Square Enix? published on


I’m being serious. My reaction to that was to get even more inspired about MY BRILLIANT THING. I looked at the screenshots and thought, “you know, I should probably look around and see if people have posted example game files using Ruby, to get an idea how flexible that is,” and also had an idea about the sprite problem. I might be able to use Magus’s glide animation! I suffer from persistent self-destructive behavioral patterns!

See, the thing I don’t get is why they don’t care about normal fanfic. Okay, so there are two things I do not get, because I also don’t understand why they care at all – but given that they clearly do, I don’t see why it shouldn’t extend to all forms of derivative creative works.

Or, rather: maybe I do see why they care, in the abstract. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I’ve read that Square Enix rewrote the ending of the DS port of Chrono Trigger to make it more consistent with the sequel, Chrono Cross. This was not popular with a lot of the more old-school fans, who frequently prefer to think of the events of Chrono Cross as being non-Chrono Trigger-canonical. (Spoilers: Chrono Cross puts Lucca in a refrigerator.)

The impression this gives me is that someone on the Square Enix creative team is one of those people who identifies so strongly with the story they want to tell that they feel a literal sense of trespass when other people play around in it.* (See: Jo Walton**.) They feel that they have suffered an injury; and the present state of copyright law appears to validate them in this. So, they use it to attack the people whom they perceive as having hurt them.

The feeling is not invalid. When I first heard about that Chrono Cross spoiler, I thought I’d been punched in the stomach. I felt literally betrayed; I think I still do.*** A lot of people say that, after seeing the Lord of the Rings movies, when they reread the books, they could no longer locate some of the things they’d found there before. The experience of watching the movies had obscured or destroyed things they needed to find in the books, and this is a kind of loss. Adaptation gets personal. In fandom we sometimes talk about striking things from our personal canon. But the fact is that emotionally, when a story takes on personal meaning for you (and in the fiction that I prefer, that is defined as when a story succeeds) that sort of compartmentalization isn’t always possible.**** It can hurt.

It can hurt. But you don’t have the right to $150,000 in damages because someone hurt your feelings. You idiot.

Yeah, this is where my sympathy runs out.

You also don’t have the right to stop people from talking to each other because they might say something that upsets you. But whatever. (Yes, I’m aware that legally that depends where you live, but morally I think I’m on pretty firm ground with that assertion.)

Anyway, I would speculate that the video game adaptations matter more to the Square Enix creative team than do fanfiction and doujinshi because video games are the medium they work in – it has a greater immediacy, and thus a greater sense of violation. Probably the same thing applies to writers like Anne McCaffrey and Anne Rice, who are disgusted by fanfic, but don’t have a problem with video game or movie adaptations of their work.

* Which is a FASCINATING position to take when the canon in question is 1) a video game, with 2) a plot predicated on the existence of alternate realities. Okay, guys. I’ll be over here ON THE INTERNET

(my Squeenix love is so very conflicted)

** I can’t link to the original comment because I’ve kind of, uh, blocked Making Light in my HOSTS file. So I’m sometimes capable of fighting off the self-destructive impulses, when artificial aids are available.

*** I suspect that I might even be more sympathetic to all this if I didn’t have some deep-rooted, stubborn conviction of Square Enix’s own creative dishonesty, because they did something with their story that seemed wrong to me.

**** I wonder to what extent the evolution of fanfic in its current form coincided with the evolution of franchise television and comics. (Were radio dramas usually written by a bunch of different people, or was there usually just one writer?) The way people relate to fanfiction seems to me something that couldn’t have developed in a time when you weren’t exposed to narratives that both 1) had a clear and inaccessible source and provenance (aka, the TV station or publisher), and 2) changed hands.

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