Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often without any locations, events, or people referencing the real world. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels and video games.

Fantasy is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the absence of scientific or macabre themes respectively, though these genres overlap. In popular culture, the fantasy genre is predominantly of the medievalist form. In its broadest sense, however, fantasy consists of works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians from ancient myths and legends to many recent and popular works.

Traits

Most fantasy uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting. Magic and magical creatures are common in many of these worlds.

An identifying trait of fantasy is the author's reliance on imagination to create narrative elements that do not have to rely on history or nature to be coherent.[1] This differs from realistic fiction in that realistic fiction has to attend to the history and natural laws of reality, where fantasy does not. An author applies his or her imagination to come up with characters, plots, and settings that are impossible in reality.

Many fantasy authors use real-world folklore and mythology as inspiration;[2] and although another defining characteristic of the fantasy genre is the inclusion of supernatural elements, such as magic,[3] this does not have to be the case. For instance, a narrative that takes place in an imagined town in the northeastern United States could be considered realistic fiction as long as the plot and characters are consistent with the history of a region and the natural characteristics that someone who has been to the northeastern United States expects; however, if the narrative takes place in an imagined town, on an imagined continent, with an imagined history and an imagined ecosystem, the work becomes fantasy with or without supernatural elements.

Fantasy has often been compared to science fiction and horror because they are the major categories of speculative fiction. Fantasy is distinguished from science fiction by the plausibility of the narrative elements. A science fiction narrative is unlikely, though seemingly possible through logical scientific or technological extrapolation, where fantasy narratives do not need to be scientifically possible.[1] Authors have to rely on the readers' suspension of disbelief, an acceptance of the unbelievable or impossible for the sake of enjoyment, in order to write effective fantasies. Despite both genres' heavy reliance on the supernatural, fantasy and horror are distinguishable. Horror primarily evokes fear through the protagonists' weaknesses or inability to deal with the antagonists.[4]

History

The violet fairy book (1906) (14730393436)
Another illustration from The Violet Fairy Book (1906).

Early history

Elements of the supernatural and the fantastic were a part of literature from its beginning. Fantasy elements occur throughout the ancient Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh.[5] The ancient Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Eliš, in which the god Marduk slays the goddess Tiamat,[6] contains the theme of a cosmic battle between good and evil, which is characteristic of the modern fantasy genre.[6] Genres of romantic and fantasy literature existed in ancient Egypt.[7] The Tales of the Court of King Khufu, which is preserved in the Westcar Papyrus and was probably written in the middle of the second half of the eighteenth century BC, preserves a mixture of stories with elements of historical fiction, fantasy, and satire.[8][9] Egyptian funerary texts preserve mythological tales,[7] the most significant of which are the myths of Osiris and his son Horus.[7]

Folk tales with fantastic elements intended for adults were a major genre of ancient Greek literature.[10] The comedies of Aristophanes are filled with fantastic elements,[11] particularly his play The Birds,[11] in which an Athenian man builds a city in the clouds with the birds and challenges Zeus's authority.[11] Ovid's Metamorphoses and Apuleius's The Golden Ass are both works that influenced the development of the fantasy genre[11] by taking mythic elements and weaving them into personal accounts.[11] Both works involve complex narratives in which humans beings are transformed into animals or inanimate objects.[11] Platonic teachings and early Christian theology are major influences on the modern fantasy genre.[11] Plato used allegories to convey many of his teachings,[11] and early Christian writers interpreted both the Old and New Testaments as employing parables to relay spiritual truths.[11] This ability to find meaning in a story that is not literally true became the foundation that allowed the modern fantasy genre to develop.[11]

The most well known fiction from the Islamic world was The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), which was a compilation of many ancient and medieval folk tales. Various characters from this epic have become cultural icons in Western culture, such as Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba.[12] Hindu mythology was an evolution of the earlier Vedic mythology and had many more fantastical stories and characters, particularly in the Indian epics. The Panchatantra (Fables of Bidpai), for example, used various animal fables and magical tales to illustrate the central Indian principles of political science. Chinese traditions have been particularly influential in the vein of fantasy known as Chinoiserie, including such writers as Ernest Bramah and Barry Hughart.[12]

Beowulf is among the best known of the Nordic tales in the English speaking world, and has had deep influence on the fantasy genre; several fantasy works have retold the tale, such as John Gardner's Grendel.[13] Norse mythology, as found in the Elder Edda and the Younger Edda, includes such figures as Odin and his fellow Aesir, and dwarves, elves, dragons, and giants.[14] These elements have been directly imported into various fantasy works.The separate folklore of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland has sometimes been used indiscriminately for "Celtic" fantasy, sometimes with great effect; other writers have specified the use of a single source.[15] The Welsh tradition has been particularly influential, due to its connection to King Arthur and its collection in a single work, the epic Mabinogion.[15]

There are many works where the boundary between fantasy and other works is not clear; the question of whether the writers believed in the possibilities of the marvels in A Midsummer Night's Dream or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight makes it difficult to distinguish when fantasy, in its modern sense, first began.[16]

Modern fantasy

Curdie went on after her, flashing his torch about.
Illustration from 1920 edition of George MacDonald's novel The Princess and the Goblin, which is widely considered to be one of the first fantasy novels ever written for adults

Although pre-dated by John Ruskin's The King of the Golden River (1841), the history of modern fantasy literature is usually said to begin with George MacDonald, the Scottish author of such novels as The Princess and the Goblin and Phantastes (1858), the latter of which is widely considered to be the first fantasy novel ever written for adults. MacDonald was a major influence on both J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. The other major fantasy author of this era was William Morris, an English poet who wrote several novels in the latter part of the century, including The Well at the World's End.

Despite MacDonald's future influence with At the Back of the North Wind (1871), Morris's popularity with his contemporaries, and H. G. Wells's The Wonderful Visit (1895), it was not until the 20th century that fantasy fiction began to reach a large audience. Lord Dunsany established the genre's popularity in both the novel and the short story form. H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, and Edgar Rice Burroughs began to write fantasy at this time. These authors, along with Abraham Merritt, established what was known as the "lost world" subgenre, which was the most popular form of fantasy in the early decades of the 20th century, although several classic children's fantasies, such as Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, were also published around this time.

Juvenile fantasy was considered more acceptable than fantasy intended for adults, with the effect that writers who wished to write fantasy had to fit their work in a work for children.[17] Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote fantasy in A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, intended for children,[18] though works for adults only verged on fantasy. For many years, this and successes such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), created the circular effect that all fantasy works, even the later The Lord of the Rings, were therefore classified as children's literature.

Political and social trends can affect a society's reception towards fantasy. In the early 20th century, the New Culture Movement's enthusiasm for Westernization and science in China compelled them to condemn the fantastical shenmo genre of traditional Chinese literature. The spells and magical creatures of these novels were viewed as superstitious and backward, products of a feudal society hindering the modernization of China. Stories of the supernatural continued to be denounced once the Communists rose to power, and mainland China experienced a revival in fantasy only after the Cultural Revolution had ended.[19]

Fantasy became a genre of pulp magazines published in the West. In 1923, the first all-fantasy fiction magazine, Weird Tales, was published. Many other similar magazines eventually followed, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; when it was founded in 1949, the pulp magazine format was at the height of its popularity, and the magazine was instrumental in bringing fantasy fiction to a wide audience in both the U.S. and Britain. Such magazines were also instrumental in the rise of science fiction, and it was at this time the two genres began to be associated with each other.

By 1950, "sword and sorcery" fiction had begun to find a wide audience, with the success of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories.[20] However, it was the advent of high fantasy, and most of all J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which reached new heights of popularity in the late 1960s, that allowed fantasy to truly enter the mainstream.[21] Several other series, such as C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books, helped cement the genre's popularity.

The popularity of the fantasy genre has continued to increase in the 21st century, as evidenced by the best-selling status of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series.

Media

The term "Fantasy Art" is closely related, and is applied primarily to recent art (typically 20th century onwards) inspired by, or illustrating, fantasy literature. It can be characterised by subject matter—which portrays non-realistic, mystical, mythical or folkloric subjects or events—and style, which is representational and naturalistic, rather than abstract—or in the case of magazine illustrations and similar, in the style of graphic novel art such as manga.

Several fantasy film adaptations have achieved blockbuster status, most notably The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, and the Harry Potter films, two of the highest-grossing film series in cinematic history. Meanwhile, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss would go on to produce the television drama series Game of Thrones for HBO, based on the book series by George R. R. Martin, which has gone on to achieve unprecedented success for the fantasy genre on television.

Fantasy role-playing games cross several different media. Dungeons & Dragons was the first tabletop role-playing game and remains the most successful and influential. According to a 1999 survey in the United States, 6% of 12- to 35-year-olds have played role-playing games. Of those who play regularly, two thirds play D&D.[22] Products branded Dungeons & Dragons made up over fifty percent of the RPG products sold in 2005.[23]

The science fantasy role-playing game series Final Fantasy has been an icon of the role-playing video game genre (as of 2012 it was still among the top ten best-selling video game franchises). The first collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering, has a fantasy theme and is similarly dominant in the industry.[24]

Classification

By theme (subgenres)

Fantasy encompasses numerous subgenres characterized by particular themes or settings, or by an overlap with other literary genres or forms of speculative fiction. They include the following:

By the function of the fantastic in the narrative

In her 2008 book Rhetorics of Fantasy,[25] Farah Mendlesohn proposes the following taxonomy of fantasy, as "determined by the means by which the fantastic enters the narrated world",[26] while noting that there are fantasies that fit none of the patterns:

  • In "portal-quest fantasy" or "portal fantasy", a fantastical world is entered through a portal, behind which the fantastic elements remain contained. A portal-quest fantasy tends to be a quest-type narrative, whose main challenge is navigating a fantastical world.[27] Well-known examples include C. S. Lewis's novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) and L. Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).[28]
  • In "immersive fantasy", the fictional world is seen as complete, its fantastic elements are not questioned within the context of the story, and the reader perceives the world through the eyes and ears of the protagonist, without an explanatory narrative. This narrative mode "consciously negates the sense of wonder" often associated with speculative fiction, according to Mendlesohn, who adds that "a sufficiently effective immersive fantasy may be indistinguishable from science fiction" because the fantastic "acquires a scientific cohesion all of its own", which has led to disputes about how to classify novels such as Mary Gentle's Ash (2000) and China Miéville's Perdido Street Station (2000).[29]
  • In "intrusion fantasy", the fantastic intrudes on reality (unlike portal fantasies), and the protagonists' engagement with that intrusion drives the story. Normally realist in style, assuming the normal world as their base, intrusion fantasies rely heavily on explanation and description.[30] Immersive and portal fantasies may themselves host intrusions. Classic intrusion fantasies include Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) and the works of H. P. Lovecraft.[31]
  • In "liminal fantasy", the fantastic enters a world that appears to be our own, but this is perceived as normal by the protagonists, although it disconcerts and estranges the reader. It is a relatively rare mode, and such fantasies often adopt an ironic, blasé tone, as opposed to the straight-faced mimesis of most other fantasy.[32] Examples include Joan Aiken's stories about the Armitage family, who are amazed that unicorns appear on their lawn on a Tuesday, rather than on a Monday.[31]

Subculture

Professionals such as publishers, editors, authors, artists, and scholars within the fantasy genre get together yearly at the World Fantasy Convention. The World Fantasy Awards are presented at the convention. The first WFC was held in 1975 and it has occurred every year since. The convention is held at a different city each year.

Additionally, many science fiction conventions, such as Florida's FX Show and MegaCon, cater to fantasy and horror fans. Anime conventions, such as Ohayocon or Anime Expo frequently feature showings of fantasy, science fantasy, and dark fantasy series and films, such as Majutsushi Orphen (fantasy), Sailor Moon (urban fantasy), Berserk (dark fantasy), and Spirited Away (fantasy). Many science fiction/fantasy and anime conventions also strongly feature or cater to one or more of the several subcultures within the main subcultures, including the cosplay subculture (in which people make or wear costumes based on existing or self-created characters, sometimes also acting out skits or plays as well), the fan fiction subculture, and the fan video or AMV subculture, as well as the large internet subculture devoted to reading and writing prose fiction or doujinshi in or related to those genres.

According to 2013 statistics by the fantasy publisher Tor Books, men outnumber women by 67% to 33% among writers of historical, epic or high fantasy. But among writers of urban fantasy or paranormal romance, 57% are women and 43% are men.[33]

Analysis

Fantasy is studied in a number of disciplines including English and other language studies, cultural studies, comparative literature, history and medieval studies. For example, Tzvetan Todorov argues that the fantastic is a liminal space. Other work makes political, historical and literary connections between medievalism and popular culture.[34]

Related genres

See also

References

  1. ^ a b ed. Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, ISBN 0-521-72873-8
  2. ^ John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Fantasy", p 338 ISBN 0-312-19869-8
  3. ^ Diana Waggoner, The Hills of Faraway: A Guide to Fantasy, p 10, 0-689-10846-X
  4. ^ Charlie Jane Anders. "The Key Difference Between Urban Fantasy and Horror". io9. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  5. ^ Grant, John; Clute, John (1997). "Gilgamesh". The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. London, England: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 410. ISBN 0-312-19869-8.
  6. ^ a b Keefer, Kyle (24 October 2008). The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Very Short Introductions. 168. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 109–113. ISBN 978-0195300208.
  7. ^ a b c Moscati, Sabatino (9 August 2001). The Face of the Ancient Orient: Near Eastern Civilization in Pre-Classical Times. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. pp. 124–127. ISBN 978-0486419527.
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Toby (3 January 2017). Writings from Ancient Egypt. London, England: Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0141395951.
  9. ^ Hart, George (2003). "Tales of fantasy". In Warner, Marina. Egyptian Myths. World of Myths. 1. London, England and Austin, Texas: British Museum Press and University of Texas Press, Austin. pp. 301–309. ISBN 0-292-70204-3.
  10. ^ Hansen, William F. (1998). Anthology of Ancient Greek Popular Literature. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 260. ISBN 0-253-21157-3.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mathews, Richard (2002) [1997]. Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination. New York City, New York and London, England: Routledge. pp. 11–14. ISBN 0-415-93890-2.
  12. ^ a b John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Chinoiserie", p 189 ISBN 0-312-19869-8
  13. ^ John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Beowulf", p 107 ISBN 0-312-19869-8
  14. ^ John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Nordic fantasy", p 691 ISBN 0-312-19869-8
  15. ^ a b John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, "Celtic fantasy", p 275 ISBN 0-312-19869-8
  16. ^ Brian Attebery, The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature, p 14, ISBN 0-253-35665-2
  17. ^ C.S. Lewis, "On Juvenile Tastes", p 41, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, ISBN 0-15-667897-7
  18. ^ Brian Attebery, The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature, p 62, ISBN 0-253-35665-2
  19. ^ Wang, David Dewei (2004). The Monster that is History: History, Violence, and Fictional Writing in Twentieth-century China. University of California Press. pp. 264–266. ISBN 978-0-520-93724-6.
  20. ^ L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, p 135 ISBN 0-87054-076-9
  21. ^ Jane Yolen, "Introduction" p vii-viii After the King: Stories in Honor of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed, Martin H. Greenberg, ISBN 0-312-85175-8
  22. ^ Dancey, Ryan S. (February 7, 2000). "Adventure Game Industry Market Research Summary (RPGs)". V1.0. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  23. ^ Hite, Kenneth (March 30, 2006). "State of the Industry 2005: Another Such Victory Will Destroy Us". GamingReport.com. Archived from the original on April 20, 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
  24. ^ ICv2 (November 9, 2011). "'Magic' Doubled Since 2008". Retrieved November 10, 2011. For the more than 12 million players around the world [...] Note that the "twelve million" figure given here is used by Hasbro; while through their subsidiary Wizards of the Coast they would be in the best position to know through tournament registrations and card sales, they also have an interest in presenting an optimistic estimate to the public.
  25. ^ Mendlesohn, Farah (2008). Rhetorics of Fantasy. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0819568687.
  26. ^ Mendlesohn, "Introduction"
  27. ^ Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Portal-Quest Fantasy"
  28. ^ Mendlesohn, "Chapter 1"
  29. ^ Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Immersive Fantasy"
  30. ^ Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Intrusion Fantasy"
  31. ^ a b Mendlesohn, "Chapter 3"
  32. ^ Mendlesohn, "Introduction: The Liminal Fantasy"
  33. ^ Crisp, Julie (10 July 2013). "SEXISM IN GENRE PUBLISHING: A PUBLISHER'S PERSPECTIVE". Tor Books. Retrieved 29 April 2015. (See full statistics)
  34. ^ Jane Tolmie, "Medievalism and the Fantasy Heroine", Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2 (July 2006), pp. 145–158. ISSN 0958-9236

External links

A Song of Ice and Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire is a series of epic fantasy novels by the American novelist and screenwriter George R. R. Martin. He began the first volume of the series, A Game of Thrones, in 1991, and it was published in 1996. Martin, who initially envisioned the series as a trilogy, has published five out of a planned seven volumes. The fifth and most recent volume of the series published in 2011, A Dance with Dragons, took Martin six years to write. He is currently writing the sixth novel, The Winds of Winter.

A Song of Ice and Fire takes place on the fictional continents Westeros and Essos. The point of view of each chapter in the story is a limited perspective of a range of characters growing from nine, in the first novel, to 31 characters by the fifth novel. Three main stories interweave: a dynastic war among several families for control of Westeros, the rising threat of the supernatural Others in the northernmost reaches of Westeros, and the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the deposed king's exiled daughter, to assume the Iron Throne.

Martin's inspirations included the Wars of the Roses and the French historical novels The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon. A Song of Ice and Fire received praise for its diverse portrayal of women and religion, as well as its realism. An assortment of disparate and subjective points of view confronts the reader, and the success or survival of point of view characters is never assured. Within the often morally ambiguous world of A Song of Ice and Fire, questions concerning loyalty, pride, human sexuality, piety, and the morality of violence frequently arise.

As of August 2016, the books have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide and, as of January 2017, have been translated into 47 languages. The fourth and fifth volumes reached the top of The New York Times Best Seller lists upon their releases. Among the many derived works are several prequel novellas, a TV series, a comic book adaptation, and several card, board, and video games.

Characters of Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII, a 1999 best-selling role-playing video game by Squaresoft, features an elite group of mercenaries called "SeeD", as well as soldiers, rebels, and political leaders of various nations and cities. Thirteen weeks after its release, Final Fantasy VIII had earned more than US$50 million in sales, making it the fastest selling Final Fantasy title at the time. The game has shipped 8.15 million units worldwide as of March 2003. Additionally, Final Fantasy VIII was voted the 22nd-best game of all time by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu in 2006. The game's characters were created by Tetsuya Nomura, and are the first in the series to be realistically proportioned in all aspects of the game. This graphical shift, as well as the cast itself, has received generally positive reviews from gaming magazines and websites.The six main playable characters in Final Fantasy VIII are Squall Leonhart, a loner who avoids vulnerability by focusing on his duty; Rinoa Heartilly, an outspoken and passionate young woman who follows her heart; Quistis Trepe, an instructor with a serious yet patient attitude; Zell Dincht, an energetic martial artist with a fondness for hot dogs; Selphie Tilmitt, a cheerful girl who loves trains and flies the airship Ragnarok; and Irvine Kinneas, a marksman and womanizer who uses his charm to mask his insecurities. Temporarily playable characters include Laguna Loire, Kiros Seagill, and Ward Zabac, who appear in "flashback" sequences; SeeD cadet-turned-antagonist Seifer Almasy; and sorceress Edea Kramer. The main antagonist is Ultimecia, a sorceress from the future who wishes to compress time.

Comedy film

Comedy is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. These films are designed to make the audience laugh through amusement and most often work by exaggerating characteristics for humorous effect. Films in this style traditionally have a happy ending (black comedy being an exception). One of the oldest genres in film, some of the very first silent movies were comedies, as slapstick comedy often relies on visual depictions, without requiring sound. When sound films became more prevalent during the 1920s, comedy films took another swing, as laughter could result from burlesque situations but also dialogue.

Comedy, compared with other film genres, puts much more focus on individual stars, with many former stand-up comics transitioning to the film industry due to their popularity. While many comic films are lighthearted stories with no intent other than to amuse, others contain political or social commentary (such as The King of Comedy and Wag the Dog).

Drama (film and television)

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction (or semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

All forms of cinema or television that involve fictional stories are forms of drama in the broader sense if their storytelling is achieved by means of actors who represent (mimesis) characters. In this broader sense, drama is a mode distinct from novels, short stories, and narrative poetry or songs. In the modern era before the birth of cinema or television, "drama" within theatre was a type of play that was neither a comedy nor a tragedy. It is this narrower sense that the film and television industries, along with film studies, adopted. "Radio drama" has been used in both senses—originally transmitted in a live performance, it has also been used to describe the more high-brow and serious end of the dramatic output of radio.

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy is a Japanese science fantasy media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and developed and owned by Square Enix (formerly Square). The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games (RPGs/JRPGs). The first game in the series was released in 1987, with 14 other main-numbered entries being released since then. The franchise has since branched into other video game genres such as tactical role-playing, action role-playing, massively multiplayer online role-playing, racing, third-person shooter, fighting, and rhythm, as well as branching into other media, including CGI films, anime, manga, and novels.

Final Fantasy installments are generally stand-alone stories, each with different settings, plots and main characters, however, as a corpus they feature some identical elements that help to define the franchise. These recurring elements include plot themes, character names, and game mechanics. Each plot centers on a particular group of heroes who are battling a great evil, but also explores the characters' internal struggles and relationships. Character names are frequently derived from the history, languages, pop culture, and mythologies of cultures worldwide. The mechanics of each game involve similar battle systems and maps.

The Final Fantasy video game series has been both critically and commercially successful, selling more than 142 million games worldwide, making it one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. The series is well known for its innovation, visuals, and music, such as the inclusion of full-motion videos (FMVs), photorealistic character models, and music by Nobuo Uematsu. It has been a driving force in the video game industry, and the series has affected Square Enix's business practices and its relationships with other video game developers. It has popularized many features now common in role-playing games, also popularizing the genre as a whole in markets outside Japan.

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII is a 1997 role-playing video game developed by Square for the PlayStation console. It is the seventh main installment in the Final Fantasy series. Published in Japan by Square, it was released in other regions by Sony Computer Entertainment and became the first in the main series to see a PAL release. The game's story follows Cloud Strife, a mercenary who joins an eco-terrorist organization to stop a world-controlling megacorporation from using the planet's life essence as an energy source. Events send Cloud and his allies in pursuit of Sephiroth, a superhuman intent on destroying their planet. During the journey, Cloud builds close friendships with his party members, including Aerith Gainsborough, who holds the secret to saving their world.

Development began in 1994, originally for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. After delays and technical difficulties from experimenting on several platforms, Square moved production to the PlayStation, largely due to the advantages of the CD-ROM format. Veteran Final Fantasy staff returned, including series creator and producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, director Yoshinori Kitase, and composer Nobuo Uematsu. The title became the first in the series to use full motion video and 3D computer graphics, which featured 3D character models superimposed over 2D pre-rendered backgrounds. Although the gameplay systems remained mostly unchanged from previous entries, Final Fantasy VII introduced more widespread science fiction elements and a more realistic presentation. The game had a staff of over 100, with a combined development and marketing budget of around US$80 million.

Assisted by a large promotional campaign, Final Fantasy VII received widespread commercial and critical success and remains widely regarded as a landmark title and one of the greatest games of all time. The title won numerous Game of the Year awards and was acknowledged for boosting the sales of the PlayStation and popularizing Japanese role-playing games worldwide. Critics praised its graphics, gameplay, music, and story, although some criticism was directed towards its English localization. Its success has led to enhanced ports on various platforms, a multimedia subseries called the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and an upcoming high-definition remake for the PlayStation 4.

Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the PlayStation console. Released in 1999, it is the eighth main installment in the Final Fantasy series. Set on an unnamed fantasy world with science fiction elements, the game follows a group of young mercenaries, led by Squall Leonhart, as they are drawn into a conflict sparked by Ultimecia, a sorceress from the future who wishes to compress time. During the quest to defeat Ultimecia, Squall struggles with his role as leader and develops a romance with one of his comrades, Rinoa Heartilly.

Development began in 1997, during the English localization of Final Fantasy VII. The game builds on the visual changes brought to the series by Final Fantasy VII, including the use of 3D graphics and pre-rendered backgrounds, while also departing from many Final Fantasy traditions. It is the first Final Fantasy to use realistically proportioned characters consistently, feature a vocal piece as its theme music, and forgo the use of magic points for spellcasting.

Final Fantasy VIII was mostly well received by critics, who praised its originality and visuals while criticizing some of its gameplay elements. It was voted the 22nd-best game of all time in 2006 by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu. The game was a commercial success; it earned more than US$50 million in sales during its first 13 weeks of release, making it the fastest-selling Final Fantasy title until Final Fantasy XIII, a multi-platform release. A Microsoft Windows port followed in 2000, with the addition of the Chocobo World minigame. Final Fantasy VIII was re-released worldwide as a PSOne Classic on the PlayStation Store in 2009, for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, with support for PlayStation Vita in 2012. It was re-released via Steam in 2013 and in Japan in 2014. As of December 2013, it has sold more than 8.5 million copies worldwide.

Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square as the tenth entry in the Final Fantasy series. Originally released in 2001 for Sony's PlayStation 2, the game was re-released as Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita in 2013, for PlayStation 4 in 2015, Microsoft Windows in 2016, and will be released for the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One in 2019. The game marks the Final Fantasy series transition from entirely pre-rendered backdrops to fully three-dimensional areas, and is also the first in the series to feature voice acting. Final Fantasy X replaces the Active Time Battle (ATB) system with the "Conditional Turn-Based Battle" (CTB) system, and uses a new leveling system called the "Sphere Grid".

Set in the fantasy world of Spira, a setting influenced by the South Pacific, Thailand and Japan, the game's story revolves around a group of adventurers and their quest to defeat a rampaging monster known as Sin. The player character is Tidus, a star athlete in the fictional sport of blitzball, who finds himself in the world Spira after his home city of Zanarkand is destroyed by Sin. Shortly after arriving to Spira, Tidus joins the summoner Yuna on her pilgrimage to destroy Sin.

Development of Final Fantasy X began in 1999, with a budget of more than US$32.3 million (US$48.6 million in 2018 dollars) and a team of more than 100 people. The game was the first in the main series not entirely scored by Nobuo Uematsu; Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano were signed as Uematsu's fellow composers. Final Fantasy X was both a critical and commercial success, selling over 8 million units worldwide on PlayStation 2. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time. On March 3, 2003, it was followed by Final Fantasy X-2, making it the first Final Fantasy game to have a direct game sequel.

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix as part of the long-running Final Fantasy series. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2016, and for Microsoft Windows in 2018. The game features an open world environment and action-based battle system, incorporating quick-switching weapons, elemental magic, and other features such as vehicle travel and camping. The base campaign was later expanded with downloadable content (DLC), adding further gameplay options such as additional playable characters and multiplayer.

Final Fantasy XV takes place on the fictional world of Eos; aside from the capital of Lucis, all the world is dominated by the empire of Niflheim, who seek control of the magical Crystal protected by Lucis's royal family. On the eve of peace negotiations, Niflheim attacks the capital and steals the Crystal. Noctis Lucis Caelum, heir to the Lucian throne, goes on a quest to rescue the Crystal and defeat Niflheim. He later learns his full role as the "True King", destined to use the Crystal's powers to save Eos from eternal darkness. The game shares a thematic connection with Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a subseries of games linked by a common mythos which includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0.

The game's development began in 2006 as a PlayStation 3 spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Tetsuya Nomura served as the original director and character designer. After a development period of six years, it was changed to the next mainline title in the series in 2012; Nomura was replaced as director by Hajime Tabata, and the game shifted to eighth generation platforms. Due to the changes, the story needed to be rewritten and some scenes and characters were repurposed or removed. The setting of Final Fantasy XV was "a fantasy based on reality", with locations and creatures based on elements from the real world.

To supplement the game, Square Enix created a multimedia project called the "Final Fantasy XV Universe", which includes a few spin-off games, as well as an anime series and feature film. Gameplay and story-based DLC is also set for release up until early 2019. Upon release, Final Fantasy XV was well received by journalists. Praise was given for its gameplay, visuals, and emotional weight, while reception towards its story and presentation was mixed. By November 2018, the game had sold over 8.4 million copies worldwide.

George R. R. Martin

George Raymond Richard Martin (born George Raymond Martin; September 20, 1948), also known as GRRM, is an American novelist and short story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, screenwriter, and television producer. He is best known for his series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted into the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011–present).

In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called Martin "the American Tolkien", and in 2011, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts (Japanese: キングダム ハーツ, Hepburn: Kingudamu Hātsu) is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (originally by Square). It is a collaboration between Disney Interactive and Square Enix, and is under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, a longtime Square Enix character designer.

Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney properties based in a fictional universe. The series centers on the main character, Sora, and his journey and experiences with various Disney, Final Fantasy, The World Ends with You and Pixar characters. The heroes of the series clash against the multiple incarnations of the primary antagonist, Xehanort, throughout the series. The Walt Disney Company owns almost all characters and worlds of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

The series consists of thirteen games available for multiple platforms, and future titles are planned. Most of the games in the series have been positively received and commercially successful. As of February 2019, the Kingdom Hearts series has shipped more than 30 million copies worldwide. A wide variety of related merchandise has been released along with the games, including soundtracks, figurines, companion books, light novels, cards, and comic series.

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries is an American supernatural drama television series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, based on the popular book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. The series premiered on The CW on September 10, 2009, and concluded on March 10, 2017, airing 171 episodes over eight seasons.

The pilot episode attracted the largest audience for The CW of any series premiere since the network began in 2006; the first season averaged 3.60 million viewers. It was the most-watched series on the network before being supplanted by Arrow. The show has received numerous award nominations, winning four People's Choice Award and many Teen Choice Awards.

On April 26, 2013, The CW officially announced that the spin-off The Originals, which focuses on the Original family of vampires, had been ordered to series, and the show began airing during the 2013–14 American television season.On April 6, 2015, lead actress Nina Dobrev confirmed via Instagram that she and co-star Michael Trevino (who plays Tyler Lockwood) would be leaving the show after its sixth season. Dobrev returned to record a voiceover for the seventh-season finale. Trevino appeared as a guest star in season seven and returned for season 8. On March 11, 2016, The CW renewed the series for an eighth season, but on July 23, 2016, announced that the eighth season, which would have 16 episodes, would be the show's last. The final season began airing on October 21, 2016, and ended March 10, 2017. The show was a major hit and continues to be, many grew sad after the show came to an end but all the fans became very excited about the spin off show "The Originals".

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