You might know that I have a small piece over at Nightmare Mode about Final Fantasy VIII. It is about a scene later in the game. It is about space. It is about the role of the player in the RPG as an active chronologizing entity.
My power as a player in a JRPG is to press buttons during cutscenes. Sometimes I press buttons to select from extensive menus during combat. If I don’t press X, the world is paused forever. Rinoa becomes trapped; a real death never comes. Matthew Weise, in his “R.I.P. J-RPG,” writes about the RPG genre in and of itself as “a group of shallow systems arranged in a way that reinforc[es] each other enough to sustain a narrative.” One of these shallow systems is, weirdly, my neurological system; serpentine muscles twitch in my arm, my wrist draws together so slightly, and I tap the X button.