June 24, 2003


[Accused child killer Michael Briere's] former wife told reporters she thought he was "brilliantly funny." They met at a training workshop at Second City, the comedy group. On June 22, 1994, they married in Las Vegas at the Chapel of Love... the marriage fell apart after she discovered he was actually a couch potato addicted to action films and Final Fantasy, a violent computer game.

Jan Wong, in the Globe and Mail. There's no point in trying to deal with this kind of prejudice too much, but for the record:

If Mr. Briere was playing a Final Fantasy videogame (not computer game... there's a difference, and Globe copy editors of a certain age should know it) it would probably have been Final Fantasy VI in 1995-96. (Final Fantasy IV, the previous in the series as far as the North American audience is concerned, came out in 1991... the next volume, Final Fantasy VII, the first title after the series jumped ship from Nintendo consoles to Playstations, didn't come out here until late 1997. The progression is complicated by North American and Japanese numbers being somewhat different... what was originally released here as the third volume in the series was the sixth in Japan until the company, Squaresoft, finally concluded the whole thing was too confusing: I'm using the current "official" or Japanese titles throughout.) That's a typical screenshot on the left. Violent stuff, I admit. Of course, some of the CGI animated movies that broke up the action were, as was typical for the whole series, ahead of their time visually, but mostly the game looked like this when you played it... again, on a Super Nintendo console, not a computer. The ESRB, which age-rates games for retailers, gave it an "E" (for "Everyone," the equivalent of a Disney movie).

FF6 was famous at the time as one of the first console games to introduce "adult" themes as story elements -- no, not what you think: specifically the pain of losing someone you love (with a couple riffs on teen pregnancy and suicide thrown in). The game also showed significant improvements in in-game music, and non-linear game play. Composer Nobuo Uematsu's Italian-language Aria de Mezzo Carattere probably introduced more young people to the magic of opera than a year's worth of PBS specials. It was an important step in videogames growing up. To write it off with the one word "violent" is a hatchet job no reporter of my generation (or Briere's) could put their byline to.

(Note: Never played the game myself, btw. I was always a PC gamer.)

Posted by BruceR at 06:25 PM


Apparently the Iraqi smugglers have started using the Afghan trick of using American airpower to settle old scores by whispering "Saddam." And a one year-old died, and a few dozen more Iraqis vowed revenge on the U.S., no doubt. Oh, well. In other news, a 12 year-old girl opened fire on some Americans. Wonder who she was avenging?

UPDATE: Jim Henley pronounces: "This is... the callous policy of an evil government."

Posted by BruceR at 12:36 PM


Apparently American pilot Harry Schmidt doesn't just want a no-time walk on the charges of disobeying orders and killing 4 Canadians as a result. Now he wants to be declared entirely innocent, with no reprimand whatever. Well, if you've got your governor to collect you a massive legal defence fund, might as well use it for something, I suppose. The lawyer's already bought and paid for, after all.

Posted by BruceR at 12:18 PM