Do you see JRPGs as the next great form of literature? Are you unwilling to invest in any JRPG because of your sense of a steep time commitment and learning curve? Have you been passionately playing, replaying, and thinking about the Xenoblade Chronicles series for years—or, have your friends been unsuccessfully badgering you to play these games, to no avail?
Whether you’re a Xenoblade Chronicles superfan or a JRPG skeptic, I want to see you at With a Terrible Fate‘s PAX East 2023 panel celebrating and interrogating the storytelling of the series—available in person, as well as on PAX’s official stream! Find the full description and logistics of the panel below, and then read on for a preview of what to expect and why to attend.
We Need to Talk about Xenoblade Chronicles
When: Thursday, March 23, 2022, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM ET
Where: Albatross Theatre
Xenoblade Chronicles is one of those JRPG franchises that has been quietly beloved for over a decade: without yet reaching the proportions of something like Final Fantasy, the series has grown from a motion-control-free Wii release into a flagship Switch title, telling hundreds of hours of philosophically rich, interconnected stories in between (and giving us some new Smash Bros. characters, too!). With Xenoblade Chronicles 3 out and DLC on the way, we want to celebrate the richness of this series with those who love it—and give those who haven’t played it a window into why a 300- to 500-hour JRPG adventure just might be worth their time. Whether you’re a superfan or a JRPG skeptic, join the game analysts who have collectively published over 100,000 words of study on Xenoblade Chronicles to explore what makes this series remarkable.
Analyst: Aaron Suduiko, Founder & Chief Video Game Analyst, With a Terrible Fate
I’m honored for the opportunity to offer this panel to like-minded gamers who view video games as the vanguard of modern storytelling. Xenoblade Chronicles has a rich history for With a Terrible Fate, and for me personally. My experience with the first Xenoblade Chronicles was a cornerstone in developing With a Terrible Fate‘s perspective on what it means to read a video game, and to read the player as a unique part of that story; my time with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 shaped my conviction in how completely a video game can represent a philosophical worldview; playing Xenoblade Chronicles 3 opened my mind to new, empowering dimensions of playing, relating to, and discussing video-game stories.
While there are countless ways to value the Xenoblade Chronicles series, I’ve personally returned to these games again and again because, to me, they set the standard for philosophical storytelling: telling a compelling story through philosophically engaging content, rather than using a story as a mouthpiece for advancing a particular philosophical view, or vice versa. In giving this lecture, I hope to offer longtime Xenoblade fans a new lens through which to enjoy the series, while also giving curious non-Xenoblade gamers a framework for understanding some of the many storytelling elements that make this series special—maybe even worth a multi-hundred-hour playthrough!
In the spirit of accessibility, this PAX panel will aim to address the Xenoblade series’ thematic content rather than more granular details of plot that would only be intelligible to Xenoblade veterans. With that said, I think it’s impossible to say much about a series of this kind without discussing spoilers, so viewers should be aware that spoiler-warnings for the entire Xenoblade Chronicles series, besides Xenoblade Chronicles X, will be in effect. I’m going to do my best to modulate these spoilers so that fans of the series will have enough content to revisit their playthroughs in a new context, while gamers who are new to Xenoblade will still have plenty of reason and desire to play the games for the first time even after they know key information about its story. The panel is also loosely modeled after the form of our PAX West 2022 panel, “We Need to Talk about Final Fantasy VII,” so I encourage you to check out PAX’s recording of that panel if you’d like to get a sense of the general format.
If you’d like to explore my analyses of Xenoblade Chronicles before the panel, they’re all available right here on With a Terrible Fate and linked for your convenience below.
- “Critical Review: Xenoblade and Leibniz”
- Video Games versus Cinema: Comparing Xenoblade Chronicles to Stranger than Fiction“
- “Teaser Metaphysics: Storytelling in Xenoblade X“
- “The Real Architect of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is Plato”
- “Forms of Life: Reading Xenoblade Chronicles 3 through Wittgenstein”
The panel will consist of a one-hour lecture, but the most meaningful part of PAX to me is the opportunity to hang out and share gaming experiences with like-minded PAX-goers who all recognize how special and powerful this medium is. With that in mind, I’ll be happily lingering outside Albatross Theatre to keep the conversation going with anyone who’d like to further discuss the panel, my studies of Xenoblade, or their own perspectives on the series—and I’ll be joining the online conversation later on to chat with anyone who’d like to virtually engage after watching the stream.
Thank you to the excellent team at PAX East for providing a unique venue to deeply explore a rich, literary game series that’s still far from as widely played as it ought to be. I’ll see you all in Boston in a month and a half; let’s show Beantown what this masterpiece of JRPG storytelling is all about!