Fest (originally known as Final Fantasy Fest) is a mostly-annual event where a small group of friends gathers for several days to play through a role-playing video game, typically a single-player JRPG. Each person has their own TV and game system, and plays through the game in parallel. In this way, we enjoy and discuss the game together, while each making our own choices and controlling our own progress.
Fest began with the release of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation in 1997. Three friends decided to play through the game as quickly as possible, stopping only for short breaks, eating and sleeping. The event was successful, and the group decided to do it again two years later when Final Fantasy VIII was released.
The third and fourth fests (Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy X) saw an infusion of new players. However, the group then faced a crossroads. Final Fantasy X-2 was announced, but should we really Fest a sequel? To find out, we imported the Japanese version of the game, but were unimpressed, and decided it was not Fest-worthy. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XI was confirmed as an MMORPG rather than traditional single player, and Final Fantasy XII was still clearly many years away. How could we feed our addiction to Fest in the meantime?
We decided to fill the gaps with RPGs other than Final Fantasy, and chose to play Suikoden III. After that, the timing of Fest became more annual in nature, rather than being scheduled around new Final Fantasy game releases.
The following year, with the release of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, we again had to choose whether a “non-primary” Final Fantasy entry could serve as the Fest game. We were intrigued by FFCC’s promise of four-player simultaneous gameplay, and decided to give it a try, making it the first (and thus far, only) multiplayer Fest game we have done.
In 2005, we faced a new problem: there was no clear “A-grade” game title that rose above the others. For the first time, we held a vote amongst the group to decide which game to Fest. The winner was Dragon Quest VIII. From then on, the Fest game each year has been decided through a democratic process, which continues to evolve.
Today, Fest is a regularly scheduled, collectively driven event that always delivers a good time, regardless of the quality of the game.
|1||1997-Sep-07||1997-Sep-07||Final Fantasy VII||S. Gammon apt.||-||Move out!
|2||1999-Sep-??||1999-Sep-09||Final Fantasy VIII||Ponwood condo
|3||2000 Q4?||2000-Nov-14||Final Fantasy IX||Ponwood condo
||?||I do what I want! You have problem?
|4||2001 Q4?||2001-Dec-20||Final Fantasy X||Ponwood condo
||?||By all means, try!|
|5||2002 Q4?||2002-Oct-22||Suikoden III
||?||Five dog combo attack~
|6||2004 Q1?||2004-Feb-09||FF Crystal Chronicles||New Berlin condo
|7||2004 Q4?||2004-Aug-31||Star Ocean 3
||New Berlin condo
||Buca de Bepo||But what about the UP3?
|8||2005 Q1?||2005-Jan-11||Suikoden IV
||New Berlin condo
||?||AARGH SNOWE; ALSO BOATS
|9||2005-Dec-26||2005-Nov-15||Dragon Quest VIII||Churchill duplex||?||Damn you Akira Toriyama!
|10||2006-Dec-26||2006-Oct-31||Final Fantasy XII||Churchill duplex||?||I'm Basch fon Ronsenberg!
|11||2007-Dec-31||2007-Aug-14||Persona 3||Churchill duplex||Pedro's||Triple brown cow
|12||2009-Jan-16||2008-Dec-09||Persona 4||Churchill duplex||Samba||BEAR-SONA!|
|13||2009-Dec-26||2009-Aug-25||Mana Khemia 2||Monticello house||Oliva||Howdy y'all!|
|14||2010-Dec-26||2010-Mar-09||Final Fantasy XIII||Monticello house||Ginza||Since when have heroes ever needed plans?
|15||2012-Jan-07||2011-Sep-27||Atelier Totori||Monticello house||Benvenuto's||;_;|
|-||2012-May-19||2012-May-15||Diablo 3||Monticello house||N/A||(Not an actual fest)|
|16||2012-Dec-28||2010-Jun-29||Trinity Universe||Monticello house||Rocky's (before),
China One (after)
|You can't escape|
|17||2013-Dec-27||2013-Jan-22||Ni no Kuni||Monticello house||?||-|
|18||2015-Mar-27||2014-Nov-18||Dragon Age: Origins||Monticello house||?||-|
|19||2016-Mar-12||2015-Dec-04||Xenoblade Chronicles X||Ben's house||?||-|
|20||2016-Dec-02||2016-Sep-30||Final Fantasy XV||Monticello house||?||-|
|-||2016-Apr-04||2016-Jul-21||Persona 5||Monticello house||N/A||(Not an actual fest)|
|Star Ocean 3
|FF12||-||X||X||X||X||X||X||-||X||-||X||X||-||X||X||-||X||X||Emily, Justin, Lauren
|Mana Khemia 2||X||-||X||-||X||X||X||-||-||-||X||-||X||X||X||X||X||-||-|
|Ni no Kuni||-||-||X||-||X||X||X||-||-||X||X||-||X||-||X||X||X||-||-|
|Dragon Age: Inquisition||X||-||X||-||X||X||X||-||-||X||X||-||X||-||X||X||X||-||-|
|Xenoblade Chronicles X||-||-||X||-||-||X||-||-||-||X||-||-||X||-||X||X||-||-||-|
What to expect: Fest is a 5-day game-a-thon. People generally stay in one place, and we don’t “do other stuff” (although we will occasionally go out for a meal or a walk or what have you). We will all start at the same time on day one (so don’t play the game beforehand!), and finish whenever. If people haven’t finished by the last day, it is encouraged (but not required) to finish the game later, since discussing the game with others is part of the fun. Also, some people who finish early will sometimes play a secondary game if there is still time.
First time through: Fest demands that you have not played the game beforehand. It is more fun if we are all discovering it together.
Stay till the end: People generally commit to staying for the entire time. There will be sleeping space, although there are a limited number of couches and beds, so you may want to bring a sleeping bag, etc. See “Stuff to bring” below for details.
Stuff to bring: It’s important to come prepared. Here are some things you’ll want to bring:
- A television!
- A game system. If you have access to any spare systems, that’s good too, since not everyone may have one. If you have extras, please let us know.
- Headphones, and the equipment necessary to attach these to your system. This may be an adapter, or a jack on your TV.
- If you need help with your setup, ask for help early. We can often lend equipment, but plenty of advance notice is best.
- A copy of the game (don’t count on being able to rent it, or buying a copy on setup day).
- A few changes of clothes (you’re staying for several days!).
- Whatever is required for you to look/feel/SMELL human: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, towels, etc. We will not accept otaku rot—thou shalt shower daily.
- Sleeping items: sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, etc. There are a few beds, couches, lovesacs, comfy chairs, etc. for such things, but probably not enough for everyone.
- Chargers for whatever other electronic equipment you’re bringing (e.g., mobile phones).
- Food is generally NOT necessary. See “The Grocery Run” below. However:
- Money: Bring enough money for a few dinners, your share of the grocery run, and whatever other expenses you will have. Generally, $150 is sufficient, assuming you are not needing to buy the game, system, TV, etc. The grocery run generally clocks in between $50-$100/person.
- Anything else you’re going to need to be comfortable in one place for 5 days. iPods? Small sets of weights? Laptops?
- Voting: The Core Festers choose each Fest game through a democratic voting process. A Core Fester is anyone who has attended Fest in three out of four consecutive years (unless they later miss three out of four consecutive Fests).
- Scheduling: The Core Festers decide the Fest date by consensus. Fest typically takes place around or shortly after the December holidays; see “History” above for prior dates.
- Setup: You are responsible for your own game setup. Make sure it is working on setup day; do not wait until the morning of day one. It is encouraged to come early on setup day to get ready, and then hang out with others. With so many games and systems in one place, there is generally not a lack of ways to amuse oneself if you are there early and you’re done setting up.
- Seating: To reduce the time spent on seating during setup day, the seating arrangement is the same as the previous Fest, except: 1) players who did not attend the previous Fest take a vacant seat, or have one created by the host, as needed; and 2) voluntary position swaps are allowed. In the case of a change of venue, the host creates a seating chart as comparable as possible to the previous one.
- Cooking: Some participants opt to cook 1-2 dishes for the group during Fest or on setup day, to improve the quality and variety of meals. Please let us know if you are interested in cooking.
- The Dinner: We will go to dinner on the evening of setup day. Locale is generally not determined in advance.
- The Grocery Run: A subset of the participants will go on a grocery trip for food for Fest, so that we are not required to leave during Fest. People may make (reasonable) requests of what is to be added to the grocery lists. Grocery costs are split evenly among the participants; expect around $50-$100.
- The Start: At the designated time on day one, everyone will start the game at the same time. Don’t worry too much about details, we’ve done it many times. Everyone is required to be present for the start; after that, people sleep/play/etc at their own (usually somewhat “hardcore”) pace.
- The Pizza Bitch: One of the staple foods of Fest is the frozen pizza. Whoever is “farthest” in the game is responsible for the creation of high-quality pizzas for the rest of the gamers. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly! =)
There are a few things to be aware of while playing the same game with a bunch of other people:
- Beware of spoilers. People will be talking a lot during Fest, and some spoiling is inevitable. However, don’t be yelling out, “OMG I can’t believe Duke Throckmorton is a villain!” because we’ll all be pissed. ;-)
- Along these lines, helping people who are stuck is great, but it may be more appropriate to walk over and point at something on the screen than yell across the room: “You have to put the blue shield in the yellow door n00b! roflcopter”
- Use headphones. Multiple games in cacophony is not fun. Many people will wear headphones half on, however, so they can talk.
- SHOWER DAILY. Lots of people together in the same room can stink.
- Clean up after yourself. If you drink a soda, when you get another, recycle the first. If you get a plate of food, when you get the next, throw the first away. Rinse the pizza cutter immediately after using it. Empty trash and recycle bins when they get full. We reserve the right to call cleanup breaks if things get out of hand.
- Be considerate of other people. If tempers flare, go take a walk, come back, and be respectful. Drama is not the point of Fest. People are coming from all kinds of different backgrounds and places; we will not tolerate disrespect. We are all friends, coming together for the common purpose of video gaming.
- That said, trash talking the game is a Fest tradition, whether or not the game is any good.