It’s often said that Final Fantasy XIV hosts one of the most welcoming communities in gaming, composed of players that bend over backwards to help newcomers. I’ve also found this to be true during my own time with the massively multiplayer game, which explains why I was so surprised to see someone go out of their way to ruin a wholesome experience for the folks around them.
A couple weeks ago, I was in New Gridania fulfilling my latest FFXIV obsession — trading unnecessary equipment at the Order of the Twin Adder for seals to spend on gacha-like treasure chests that reward random minions and mounts. I stopped to listen to some music in the city square. A group of Bards known as The Songbirds were set up near the main Aetheryte and performing for a growing crowd of onlookers.
Apart from providing DPS and support in battle, Bards are also capable of plinking out basic melodies with a variety of instruments whenever the mood strikes — the Job features an in-game music-maker tool. And while this doesn’t have much utility in dungeons or raids, it goes a long way towards making the world of FFXIV feel alive. It’s common to come across characters performing songs in crowded social hubs, and ensembles like The Songbirds have made names for themselves for their elaborate, multi-Bard concerts.
“The time and effort involved for arranging songs varies greatly depending on the difficulty of the score and availability of source material,” Songbirds organizer Mewsical Miqo told me via email. “At best, video game music with readily available scores or MIDIs could take me as little as 10-30 minutes to arrange. At worst, the songs need to be transcribed by ear prior to working on an arrangement, which could take up to several weeks.”
Just as The Songbirds were getting into full swing in New Gridania earlier this month, however, something strange happened. The familiar notes of the pop culture melodies that make up their setlist were interrupted by ear-piercing crashes. Confused, I messed around with my volume settings, at first assuming that whatever I was hearing was a side effect of the concert being held in a public space and thus subjected to a constant stream of visiting players.
But the interruption was more malicious than that. Someone had apparently got it into their heads to ruin the performance with their own Bard instruments. After scanning my surroundings, I found that the sounds were coming from a lone Lalafell situated just in front of the band, his small frame difficult to see among the growing audience. The text chat soon filled with protests from those who just wanted to hear The Songbirds perform, many of whom wondered if reporting him would do anything.
Annoyed, I turned to leave, but not before seeing the diminutive troll offer a pithy response to the angry adventurers all but calling for his head:
“This is not a private venue, this is a main city Aetheryte, and I’m playing my own music separately.”
Although I’ve tried my darndest to contact this player—whose character name I know but won’t share for fear of sending them undue harassment—to ask them what their deal is, I’ve yet to find them online since the incident in question.
Miqo, for her part, didn’t seem too bothered by the disruption during our chat.
“The spectators stated that the perpetrator is a known compulsive troll and have done the same to other Bards in the past,” Miqo explained. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised; people attempting to interrupt other Bards by making noise is a fairly common occurrence, though it is more common on some servers than others.”
My favorite thing about FFXIV is how the developers give players a ton of opportunities to socialize between white-knuckle Savage raid attempts. Eorzea feels like a living, breathing world, one with nooks and crannies in which to get lost if you so choose. The concert-ruining Lalafell sucked, for sure, but their trolling was also a good reminder that any concentration of human beings is destined to produce an asshole or two. And honestly, can you get any closer to reality than that?