Final Fantasy XIV and Me Key Art

Final Fantasy XIV and Me – Elora Rhiki

Final Fantasy XIV and Me is an interview series where I highlight mental health and how MMORPGs can directly affect how you feel. This has been a passion project that I have wanted to do for a long time, and throughout it, I will be interviewing all kinds of people. From game veterans to beginners taking their first steps in the world of Hydaelyn.

So, I would like to introduce you to my first guest; I hope she is made to feel welcome. She is a close friend of mine, and we also met through Final Fantasy XIV. So, pack your chocobos, and please journey with me into the realm of Hydaelyn with Elora Rhiki.

Final Fantasy 14 Endwalker Key Art

Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer some of my questions. Please, can you introduce yourself?

Elora Rhiki: Hi! My name is Zoe. I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV for about four years and go by the name of Elora Rhiki in-game. I originally started on the Zodiark server but then moved to the Moogle server after a year. I never really stick to one race for too long, but I always go back to either Viera or Lalafell, and I predominately play as Black Mage.

So, when and how did you get into the Final Fantasy series?

Elora Rhiki: I got into playing Final Fantasy when I was pretty young. I think I was about eight or nine when my older brother and I discovered Final Fantasy X on Playstation 2 at Blockbuster. We rented it out so many times but never got around to completing it; even still, I loved the story and the characters. It will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first Final Fantasy game I played, and I loved playing it again when the remaster came out.

So tell me, how did you get into Final Fantasy XIV? Was it love at first sight? Or did it take you a while to warm up to the world of Hydaelyn?

Elora Rhiki: Honestly, I wasn’t too interested when I first tried it. I started playing on PlayStation 4 (I even went all out and bought the collectors edition). I thought it looked interesting and had heard about the character creator, but when I started I didn’t have a keyboard. So, using the chat in-game was extremely frustrating and time-consuming, so I didn’t interact with anyone and soon got bored of the long queue times as a DPS.

I remembered waiting for the Garuda trial to progress the main scenario, and I ended up waiting longer than an hour and still hadn’t gotten in, so that was it for me. I didn’t pick it up again until after the launch of Heavensward expansion, and this time, I made the conscious effort to be more social in the game (Final Fantasy XIV) to find a Free Company (Guild), and actually have/find people to play the game with. So that it would be more interesting. I’m so glad I gave it a second chance because I haven’t stopped playing since!

Sounds like you had a whirlwind romance with the game. But is there something in particular that pulled you back into the world of Hydaelyn?

Elora Rhiki: The friendships I’ve made really kept me coming back to the game. The very first friend I made in-game was when I was waiting around and outside the first dungeon (Sastasha). I was quietly minding my own business, and a cat boy (Miqo’te) bounced over and asked if I wanted to form a party since we were two DPS trying to queue. I’m generally quite a shy and nervous person and hadn’t had much experience talking to people online before, so initially, I was apprehensive. However, I really wanted to give this game a good chance, so I agreed.

What sort of emotions and feelings did you have?

Elora Rhiki: I’m so thankful I did because, thanks to this first interaction, I was able to open up more and get out of my comfort zone, meet new friends to play the game (FFXIV), and eventually, it helped me to feel more comfortable in myself. I did things I wouldn’t normally do. I even ended up falling in love and began a long-distance relationship for nearly four years. All thanks to Final Fantasy XIV. Even though the said relationship didn’t work out in the end, I’m thankful for the experiences that this game has given me. I’ve met some of the most amazing people through this game, and even though we may be in different parts of the world, it doesn’t stop us from having real and meaningful friendships while being supportive of whatever is happening in our lives.

It’s truly touching to see that one decision we make that seemed like nothing, for example, deciding to pick up a game, can actually change our whole future.

Elora Rhiki: Yeah, it definitely felt like a ‘right place, right time’ kind of moment. If I hadn’t started playing the game again, would I still be the same person I am today? If that cat boy (Miqo’te) hadn’t asked me to join him in that first dungeon (Sastasha), would I have ended up in a different group of friends? Would I have even kept playing? You could go on and on about how different things could have been. I’m just happy things worked out the way they did.

Final Fantasy 14 Oceanian Servers
In-game Screenshot

So, with this interview, I want to pay particular attention to highlighting mental health in correlation with gaming. So, may I ask, has Final Fantasy XIV played any particular role in regard to your own mental health?

Elora Rhiki: I would have to say over the years, it’s helped me in a positive way rather than a negative. It’s helped me to come out of my shell, to have more confidence in myself, and that I’m not alone. By the time I joined Final Fantasy XIV, I was in a slightly better place mentally than I had been, but it was still unsteady ground for me. So, playing the game actually helped me to meet others who felt the same way and had been through similar experiences. I found friends who would reassure me that those thoughts weren’t true, and it helped me become the person I am today!

You speak highly of the friends you’ve made and the positive experience it’s had on your mental health, which is always so lovely to see. But also, not everything can be all sunshine and rainbows. Has there ever been a part of this game where you’ve had a negative impact on your mental health?

Elora Rhiki: I feel like I am lucky to say I haven’t experienced too much negativity with Final Fantasy XIV. There is always, of course, some level of negativity in a community as big as this. Thankfully, the most negativity I have personally experienced has been quite small, such as an overly cocky player who thinks they know better or along those lines. But my mental health in regard to negativity hasn’t really been affected. It’s been nothing but positive for me. I am lucky, I guess!

Has there ever been a moment where you’ve had a negative experience with other players in-game?

Elora Rhiki: Thankfully, I’ve not really had any negative experiences toward me specifically. However, I have had to help stand up for other players during a dungeon when someone was being unpleasant or when inpatient with new players.

So going back to your friends you’ve made. What is your fondest memory you’ve shared with them?

Elora Rhiki: I will always have a special place in my heart for Halloween in Final Fantasy XIV, or as it’s known in the game itself, ‘All Saints Wake,’ because we would always do a little event where we’d dress up as a character, not from Final Fantasy XIV. And last Halloween, we did a scavenger hunt. Either that or when I was actually able to meet up with them outside the game! Anytime we’re together, it is always fun!

Final Fantasy XIV

What would you say to someone who is interested in the game but isn’t sure if they should take the leap into the world of Eorzea?

Elora Rhiki: I think the best advice is to make sure you know what kind of game you want to get into! This is an MMORPG, and while it’s not completely necessary to talk to people while playing, it does help to give you the full experience. In order to progress in the story, you have to work together with others. Also, when in doubt, Google is definitely your best friend if you want to find out what others think of the game to get a feel for it.

Ever since they streamlined A Realm Reborn, it’s a lot more new and player-friendly than the slog it once was.

Elora Rhiki: Oh yeah, definitely! I remember it was such a drag getting through the hundreds of run-around quests, but I think that was part of the charm for me. The fact that you don’t start the story as this amazing hero that will save everyone. You start your journey just like every other adventurer in that world and build your reputation up by going through mediocre tasks such as trying to track down wine and cheese for a party! I haven’t played through the main scenario in a while and would definitely be interested to see the changed things, but I would like to someday, just out of curiosity.

One final question: In all the Final Fantasy games you’ve played, what is the one thing you’d love to see implemented into Final Fantasy XIV?

Elora Rhiki: Oh god, that’s such a difficult question! Probably Biltzball from Final Fantasy X. Either that or some implementation of the battle style of Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core, maybe a game at the Golden Saucer, that would be cool!

Thank you so much for your time; it’s nice to hear about your experiences in the world of Hydaelyn! Do you have any parting words?

Elora Rhiki: Thank you for letting me be a part of your article. I’m happy I was able to share my own thoughts and experiences, and hopefully, it shows that even though there are, of course, some negative aspects, there are so many positive things that can come from this game. It’s thanks to this (Final Fantasy XIV) and the friends that I’ve made. I’ll forever be thankful that I started playing when I did!