Researcher/Fan Birth by Sleep Discussion



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SteffiAnna

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Hello!

I’m a huge KH fan and a PhD student currently interested in games/gender/avatars/identification etc.

What could be better than getting to research and fanboy at the same time?! So I’m wondering if my fellow fans could help me out…

Thanks to 2.5 I was able to play Birth By Sleep for the first time over Christmas break (love the battle system!) As a lady, I was super pumped that for the first time I got to play KH as a girl! I’m interested in what your experience was playing KH as a girl: did it feel different using a female avatar? What do you think of Aqua, her outfit, personality, etc.?

If you’re a female do you identify more easily with female characters? If you’re a male how does it feel playing as a girl?

If you could include your gender and age in the post that would really help me out!
Female/25

Thanks much!!!

-KairiAnna
PS: I’m open to e-mails/private messages. I need all the help I can get!
 

Ruran

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I decided to move your thread because while I understand the purpose of it, KH related threads like these still belong in the KH section. Also because there's more traffic here~ :D
 

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Well I'm not sure how long or helpful my post will be but I loved playing Aqua. From a gameplay standpoint I find her the easiest due to her barrier guard but for the first time in the series I felt like an actual mage playing her. I also found her character far more tolerable than Terra or Ven. I know the stupid stick passes around a bit in the story because prequel plot demands Xehanort come but somewhat on top but I felt Aqua held it less than the others.

I also like to see a girl/woman that actually does something in the series. Granted I know Namine isn't a fighter and for KH1 I can look past Kairi. My blind eye stops there though.
In a story sprawling with teens, ripped young adults and creepy old men it's nice to see a girl woman among them that has actual impact to what's happening. (no i don't count Kairi's magical girl princess of heart power moments or the puppet with a girls face Xion)

I do think it is fair to also note that nearly every character suffers from some fault. Of the entire cast the only one to see any true development of character has been Riku. I don't think that excuses lack of female presence but my issues with other characters probably plays part in why I like Aqua's inclusion.

I am male but I can't really say how it feels to play a female. To be honest a character is a character to me, I have played games for a long time and what matters is story and development and most of all fun of the game over what gender a character has. But I do think the series lacks proper use of main female characters not borrowed from disney or final fantasy.

Edit. I should probably add that when I do replay BBS it is usually always as Aqua. Terra can be fun for a change of pace sometimes but it's almost always Aqua.
 
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Absent

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Aqua is one of my favorite characters in the series. Story wise, while I may not relate, I can sympathize with her. Gameplay wise: Aqua is amazing; she's frail at the beginning but once you get your first Ra Spells, you're destroying crowds of Unversed. Me and I friends would fight in the Mirage Arena against each other and I would always win with Aqua. They almost got me once but that's because they started using their Aqua's against mine.

As for her inclusion; I'm thankful. Aqua is godsend, this series desperately needed a female character that was independent and strong both physically and emotionally. Her kindness and calm attitude is refreshing, very reflective of her Mark of Mastery. As for not relating to her, I couldn't invest myself in TAV's relationship. Their friendship feels forced to me when compared to the others in the series. Her struggles and journey I found interesting just not relatable.

When I play I don't pay much mind to my character's sex unless there's customization and/or character courtship. (Oh and Pokémon, my team consists solely of female Pokémon, only because that way I don't have to worry about Attract strategies.)
 
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Jgray123487

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I am a guy and to be honest it was a change of pace, but one i enjoyed. Aqua tale was kind of a sad one. She was trying to save a friend and in the end ,saved him ,but at the cost of being trapped inside the realm of darkness. Hopefully she gets freed in KH3.
 

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When I played Aqua for the first time 4 years ago when the game came out it didn't feel very different from playing the other characters. The fact that Aqua was female was totally on my mind as I played. I saw her more for her character than anything. Trying desperately to protect and save her friends, her brothers. Obviously Aqua is very attractive and even the characters in the game (Zack, Phil, Hades) make note of it, but I still think they made more than just the girl character. She was the only one to become a master and manages to be extremely important to the future of the plot. I personally don't care what gender my character is as long as they're interesting.
Male/20
 

SteffiAnna

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Wow, thanks so much everyone! I’m still not entirely sure where my project is going but you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’m going to go back and do an analysis of Aqua’s story and character development eventually (excited to play through her story again!).

So keeping the consideration of identification in mind, have you ever felt like you’ve identified with a video game character? Why? Are you more likely to identify with a customizable avatar (like in an MMO)?

Also, what do you think adding a playable girl to the KH lineup does? I know KH has a large female fan base but do you think this decision makes the community more inviting to women?

Also, I need to find some ladies who love Aqua who are willing to talk to me.

Tell me all the things! ;]
 

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So keeping the consideration of identification in mind, have you ever felt like you’ve identified with a video game character? Why? Are you more likely to identify with a customizable avatar (like in an MMO)?

Also, what do you think adding a playable girl to the KH lineup does? I know KH has a large female fan base but do you think this decision makes the community more inviting to women?
Eh I don't know if I can truly say I have identified with a character since I find many characters I like better than my own self. *Ibasicallygivemyselflittlethought*
But there are characters I have felt were more enjoyable because they appealed to me in some aspect I like.
I have used truly customizable avatars incredibly sparingly so I can't really say for sure on that either.

Well if I recall right the majority fan base is women so if it does make it more inviting I think it would be hard to tell. lol
I do think her inclusion does something good for the lineup though. She was a girl in the story that wasn't there to just be some male protag's friend, an after thought or a damsel in distress. She had actual impact such as explaining how Xehanort ends up with Ansem or how Castle Oblivion got there.
To put it blunt, Aqua actually does something other than waiting to be helped or waiting for her friends to come home.
 

Divine Past

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As a male, it didn't feel all too different for me. it might be because in 358/2 it kind of felt like I was playing a Xion so it wasn't anything new to me. She's is pretty and her design was obviously meant to present her as such (like Terra for a man) and her personality was ok I guess. I mean she felt pretty straight forward in terms of her characteristics. She's nice, she's helpful, people like her, she wants to protect her friends and she hates darkness. Idk she's pretty inoffensive in terms of main character in the series. Aqua being a girl I guess let the writers get away with not giving her the deepest of storylines since she was going to pretty special either way unlike someone like Terra.

So yeah overall I just think she's ok. She's just a nice and generous person which isn't bad but it isn't very memorable qualities either. As a guy I probably am not the best for her perspective for her role in terms of gender equality and such but I do think out of the 3 heroes in BBS, she's the least interesting to me.

Male/20 years old.
 

DarkGrey Heroine

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Years ago, I started BBS as Terra, followed by Ven's story, and then Aqua's and I must say that, game-wise, I felt more flexible and even the smallest touch on the D-Pad would make the character move. Probably because of her little feet, covering a small area. It was totally new for me and a bit tricky in the beginning. The fact that she has Barrier and Cartwheel makes it so much easier to avoid enemy attacks. I didn't like the fact that she jumped when doing a ground combo, that jump-and-spin move makes her vulnerable until she reaches the ground and sometimes doesn't even hit enemies. Another thing I disliked was the sound she makes when hitting 0 HP. I know it's tolerable since it's not that much of a girly scream, but seriously, it sometimes scares me when she screams all of a sudden ಠ_ಠ

I'm a 18 years old girl and prefer playing male characters, because I like a more aggressive fighting style, even better with really quick moves. Aqua's fighting style matches her personality: elegant, calculated, no unnecessary moves, ... temperate? and calm. Very calm. I liked walking towards the enemy in her calm way, keeping that noble, straight stance, it made me feel like I had everything under control. My own fighting style is a combination of her, Ven's and Vanitas' fighting style: collected and strategic//very quick to react//aggressive to hit and fast to dodge to the point of being almost intangible ( my ideal fighting style, can't apply to all games sadly ;w; ) She's very elegant, very very elegant. I admire that, I myself like to keep a cool head in new situations, so I let myself be inspired by her very feminine, but strong, noble, straight stance. :D

I liked her outfit a lot, since it was feminine, but not too girly (like Kairi's pink dress...ugh... pink xD). It was beautiful to see her blue dress follow her movements, and also how the black parts of her clothing matched her delicate, tall silhouette~ I could see from a blink that she's a strong character.

So keeping the consideration of identification in mind, have you ever felt like you’ve identified with a video game character? Why? Are you more likely to identify with a customizable avatar (like in an MMO)?

Also, what do you think adding a playable girl to the KH lineup does? I know KH has a large female fan base but do you think this decision makes the community more inviting to women?

Also, I need to find some ladies who love Aqua who are willing to talk to me.

Tell me all the things! ;]
I indeed identified with a lot of video game characters over the years xD The one I identified most is Vanitas, because various real-life incidents made me a suffering wreck and I decided to change all that negativity into strength of character (just like Vanitas did but ended up bad because of Xehanort) and just mind my own business... I'm still on the Light's side xD but... I have a strong sense of independence and don't let others get inside my head, as I neglected myself too much before, even if that means I'm just cold and insensitive most of the time... but I know how people are, they want a certain response from others, as long as I give them that, they don't follow me around too much. I don't like it when a friendship burdens me with ridiculous responsibilities, I want my space, I distance myself from people that don't bring me anything interesting to hear or fun time, my mind needs entertainment. Just those that really matter are close to me, the few people I'm actually interested in. The majority of fans see Vanitas for what he shows, not what he actually is or carries inside his heart, and that is the thing me and him have in common most..
Perhaps an interesting detail for you might be that I'm an artist, studied art, will go to art university, I'm artist at heart, an illustrator, drawer, printmaker, engraver, a traditionalist and it's taken over my whole personality. I will be an artist for life, so... I guess I'll forever be more or less of a lone wolf. But I like it like that.
The people close to me tell me I'm a sweet girl, a warm presence almost everywhere, feminine like Aqua with the exact same looks as Namine, but fearsomely strong and absolutely incorruptible. Haha xD I must add another detail that I don't like: I act impulsively. That's not good, so I try to keep my cool; better insensitive and cold than impulsively getting into trouble and misunderstandings all the time.


I don't really care if the series will add more female playable characters, I'm not that kind of woman that desperately wants female characters to get equal attention as male ones. What I do like is the variety is adds to a series, that's a positive thing and I welcomed it extremely well in BBS. :3
And from experience and general wisdom I tell ya: if there are more interesting MALE characters in a game, there will be more female players attracted to it! That's just the law of nature xD and male players will still want to play it because there would be epic characters after all.

Hmm... can I help you more, somehow? ^^
 

kuraudoVII

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Well, when I finally had a chance to play Birth by Sleep, I ended up playing as Aqua last due to everyone telling me that, from a gameplay narrative standpoint, it made more sense to play Terra, Ventus and then Aqua. I initially played on Proud Mode without really trying to use an ability guide (and let me tell you, defeating Terranort as Terra's Lingering Sentiment without Leaf Bracer, Second Chance and Once More is a nightmare). Once I got to Aqua, however, her gameplay style compelled me to go to an ability faq to help get some useful abilities and commands (and also because I knew that Braig was going to crop up eventually). Her frailty at the beginning compelled me to get stronger until she became an extremely powerful - if not the most powerful - force among the trio. I even deleted my previous files to play all the stories on Critical Mode because of this.

As for Aqua as a character, I like her a lot. It was a nice change of pace seeing a female character actually fight and hold her own in this series; I never had the chance to play 358/2 Days, so I'm not entirely sure how Xion handled, so I'm mostly basing this on Kairi and Namine. In terms of playing as her, however, I didn't really pay too much attention to the fact that she was female. When I play a game, I don't really play as a particular character because of that character's gender, I just like playing as characters that I can either identify with or that I can have fun listening to and watching. Characters like Aqua and Terra, I enjoy because I think that the characters are cool and inspiring (Aqua) and because they are cool, yet identifiable (Terra, both the man from Kingdom Hearts and the woman from Final Fantasy VI). Other characters I don't enjoy playing as because they are either annoying (Amy Rose from Sonic Adventure) or because they simply aren't fun to play as (Silver in Sonic '06).

As for customizable avatars, I rarely ever play games that allow the option, but on the rare instance that I do, I'll usually go with something that resembles me, but will sometimes just create a character just for fun, whether male or female.

Despite all of the above, I am glad that Aqua is a playable character. Diversity is always a good thing in my book and I think that it makes Kingdom Hearts more inviting to people in general, male or female. I'm not entirely sure how much I identify as her as a person; I try to be as kind and understanding as her, but I also have my own emotional baggage stemming from having an inferiority complex which is why I tend to identify with characters like Terra, Riku and Roxas more.

Male/23
 

SteffiAnna

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DarkGrey Heroine, your reply is particularly helpful to me. Thanks so much for being so willing to help! I love how self-reflexive you are about exactly why you relate to the characters you do, super super helpful! And glad to hear you're still on the side of the light, after all, "Kingdom Hearts is light" ;]

You've already answered most of the questions floating around my head but I'm sending along two more. You've touched on these but I need a direct response to them for my records if you can get around to them, again thank you so much!

Do you typically play games with playable female characters? What games?

Do you think adding a playable female character to the franchise is beneficial, hurtful, neither, both?

 

SteffiAnna

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incognito_ thanks for being so helpful! If you have time I have some more questions. I'm new to forums (I know, bad fangirl) so forgive me if I don't get this quote thing right!

I felt like an actual mage playing her.
Do you typically gravitate toward mage characters? Do you typically think of mage characters as female? I tend to. FFX's Yuna is always the image that pops into my mind when I think 'mage'.

I also like to see a girl/woman that actually does something in the series. Granted I know Namine isn't a fighter and for KH1 I can look past Kairi. My blind eye stops there though.
In a story sprawling with teens, ripped young adults and creepy old men it's nice to see a girl woman among them that has actual impact to what's happening. (no i don't count Kairi's magical girl princess of heart power moments or the puppet with a girls face Xion)
I'm so glad to hear this! Do you feel like there's a lack of fleshed-out playable female characters in the games you play? If you do play with female characters often what games do you find them in? What kinds of things make a strong female character? (And no, as much as I love Kairi, I don't count her magical heart either ;] )

Just curious what's you're favorite Aqua attack? I've got to replay her for my project and am interested in branching out from my 'standbys'. Problem is, I exclusively go for attacks that hurt multiple enemies just because it makes me feel like a badass.
 

SteffiAnna

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Absent, thanks so much for your reply!

As for her inclusion; I'm thankful. Aqua is godsend, this series desperately needed a female character that was independent and strong both physically and emotionally.
I agree! Why do you say the series 'desperately needed a female character'? For believably? For the sake of female fans? For variety? Because the boys are so angsty? :p You also say Aqua is independent and strong as opposed to the other female characters in the series (which I agree) but what is it about the other female KH characters that make them not this way?

(Oh and Pokémon, my team consists solely of female Pokémon, only because that way I don't have to worry about Attract strategies.)
Other than Pokemon do you play a lot of games with playable female characters? If so, what games and how do you feel about those characters (in general or compared to Aqua)?
 

SteffiAnna

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Thanks Divine Past!

Aqua being a girl I guess let the writers get away with not giving her the deepest of storylines since she was going to pretty special either way unlike someone like Terra....out of the 3 heroes in BBS, she's the least interesting to me.
So you're saying since there aren't many playable girls in the series (I haven't played 358/2, does it have one?] then she serves as sort of a novelty which means she didn't have to be very complicated, interesting! I do think it's weird how she's like super 'good'. The whole 'women have completely pure hearts' thing is a very weird concept in the series as a whole that I never thought of, interesting! (aside from the disney villains of course).

So do you play other games with playable female characters? Which ones? Do you feel like those characters are 'deeper' than Aqua?
 

SteffiAnna

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Jgray123487, thanks for replying!

I am a guy and to be honest it was a change of pace, but one i enjoyed.
So do you play any other games with playable female characters? If so, which ones? How would you describe them (in general, or in relation to Aqua)?
 

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incognito_ thanks for being so helpful! If you have time I have some more questions. I'm new to forums (I know, bad fangirl) so forgive me if I don't get this quote thing right!

Do you typically gravitate toward mage characters? Do you typically think of mage characters as female? I tend to. FFX's Yuna is always the image that pops into my mind when I think 'mage'.
Your welcome. :redface:
No. Typically I gravitate to what I would call the "simple" characters. I like ones that are simple, not much to memorize or unlock. I also gravitate toward random characters if I feel the need for change of pace.
I don't see mage as gender specific but I do think you see mages more typically as older people. Such as Master Xehanort, Merlin (any form of media), Yen Sid, etc.
The mage is usually always portrayed as the aged and wise being be they good or evil.

I'm so glad to hear this! Do you feel like there's a lack of fleshed-out playable female characters in the games you play? If you do play with female characters often what games do you find them in? What kinds of things make a strong female character? (And no, as much as I love Kairi, I don't count her magical heart either ;] )

Just curious what's you're favorite Aqua attack? I've got to replay her for my project and am interested in branching out from my 'standbys'. Problem is, I exclusively go for attacks that hurt multiple enemies just because it makes me feel like a badass.
Well thats a bit of a difficult question really. I believe every character has a specific role and to me what matters is how well the writers portray that role. If they are someone meant to be secondary or support I don't care but if the female is put into the story and is supposed to be a main character with importance to that story then yes I think they should be fleshed out.
As for lack of them, well, I can't say there is. Most games I play are random indie buys or adventure like.

Such as Legend of Zelda. I find it annoying the repetition is the same with Ganon and Zelda but how Zelda is handled varies lately so whether I have issue or not varies.
For games like megaman Zero I find its female lead Ciel handled fine. Her role is supportive to the main hero but also important to story.
In Devil May Cry 3 I find Lady's portrayal amazing. She has true impact on Dante making him more human but shes no love interest.

I guess I don't really play games were there is a lack of female character other than KH. In KH Kairi's character is handled horrendously. In KH1 it's fine but post that her role is supposed to be important but all she does is get kidnapped. 4 or 5 scenes and shes just gone till the end of the game. That isn't storytelling SE that's laziness.

No I don't typical play female characters often. Given the choice I usually pick male. But usually that has more to do with how the characters play than gender. If its a game like pokemon I always pick male to match my gender since picking boy or girl has little impact.

That's a complicated thing to answer. What makes a female strong usually depends on the story they're in. In KH Aqua is strong because she actually does something. She doesn't wait like Namine or Kairi. She stands up to even Xehanort and wins. She also holds the "stupid stick" in BBS far less than the others. She spends most of the story trying to understand and keep hope in her friends and Terra's falling nature.
I guess a strong character to me depends on resolve, impact on story and personality.

Magnega. It is THE bossest spell for crowd control. Combine that with one of Aqua's top tier spells like Glacier or Flame Burst and your piratically the god of death to enemies. Time Slicer is a hax too.
Blade Charge is also the way to go with command styles and for arena bosses her Triple Firage or Thunder Shot is life saving.
 

SteffiAnna

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Obviously Aqua is very attractive and even the characters in the game (Zack, Phil, Hades) make note of it, but I still think they made more than just the girl character.
I found it interesting that Aqua's looks were consistently brought up when she's not an overtly sexualized character. (short shorts of course but tamer than Final Fantasy costumes). What do you think of the way she reacted to these advances? She denied their advances but in a polite, albeit sort of sarcastic way. Does this give her power? Do you feel she should be more aggressive when dealing with creepy flirtation (Phil/Hades)? You gave me a lot to think about, thanks!
 

SteffiAnna

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Thanks so much, kuraudoVII!

onic '06).
I'm not entirely sure how much I identify as her as a person; I try to be as kind and understanding as her, but I also have my own emotional baggage stemming from having an inferiority complex which is why I tend to identify with characters like Terra, Riku and Roxas more.
You bring up a great point here. Why do you think the female characters in Kingdom Hearts (aside from the disney villains) are so infallible? They don't seem much like real people because they have no flaws. They all seem to have 'pure' and 'incorruptible' hearts. Just wondered if you have any thoughts about this.
 

DarkGrey Heroine

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DarkGrey Heroine, your reply is particularly helpful to me. Thanks so much for being so willing to help! I love how self-reflexive you are about exactly why you relate to the characters you do, super super helpful! And glad to hear you're still on the side of the light, after all, "Kingdom Hearts is light" ;]

You've already answered most of the questions floating around my head but I'm sending along two more. You've touched on these but I need a direct response to them for my records if you can get around to them, again thank you so much!

Do you typically play games with playable female characters? What games?

Do you think adding a playable female character to the franchise is beneficial, hurtful, neither, both?

I'm so so glad I could help you :'D and yes, without a doubt, Kingdom Hearts is light (there's no end to this game's influence in my life xD)
Now, your two other questions...

As I am female myself, I tend to play games as female characters when available, in games such as Pokemon, when you have to choose your gender, or in games with customizable characters. But, when I started BBS, I wanted to begin with Ventus since I loved his design and I think he's adorable xD Yup, that's called attraction, I guess ^^; my second choice would have been Aqua. It's a matter of "coolness" sometimes ^^;;

Adding female player characters to a game is beneficial, since it adds variety/diversity and it's nice for a gamer to try something different once they finished the game with one character and not the other. As long as it goes well with the story, it's perfect. I say this because, for example, I can't imagine playing Final Fantasy VII as a female character. It would be just wrong. Thus, if it fits the story, it's a 'yes', or if it doesn't affect the gameplay that much, as in the Pokemon series.
 
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