FFXIV changes design of the sage job icon in response to trypophobia concerns

Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-07-30 21:19(JST)
Translated by. Braden Noyes

On July 30, 2021, Square Enix announced they would be changing the design of the icon for the upcoming sage job in their MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. The new job is scheduled to be implemented along with the release of the game’s next expansion, Endwalker. The change came about in response to this thread (Japanese only) titled “Regarding the Sage’s Job Icon” started on the official FFXIV forums on July 12, 2021.

The thread was started by a player asking that the icon’s design be changed, explaining that seeing the icon was triggering their trypophobia. For those of you who don’t know, trypophobia is a severe repulsive response to the sight of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps, such as the holes of a honeycomb or the seed pod of a lotus plant. The design of the sage’s job icon, with its multiple open holes, seems to have provoked similar feelings of unease from others in the thread as well.

Original design on left; redesigned icon on right

Of course, icons aren’t the only thing which can provoke squeamish responses from players. There are undoubtedly a number of players who find the appearance of certain enemies hard to look at. However, such encounters are limited to battles, meaning players have the option of not seeing a particular type of enemy by avoiding them altogether.

The main concern in this case, however, is the fact that the job icon is always visible in a player’s party list. It also appears in a number of places across the game’s UI such as the party finder. There is only so much that can be done to avoid seeing something so integrated into everyday gameplay. Imagine having to look at something that repulses you displayed next to a friend’s name every time you form a party and you may be able to sympathize with those who requested this icon be changed.

The triggers for trypophobia can differ greatly from person to person, which has resulted in a number of opinions when it comes to the sage’s job icon. While some feel the same as the thread’s original author and find the icon repulsive, others with trypophobia have said the job icon doesn’t bother them at all. This has led to a somewhat intense discussion over whether or not the sage’s job icon elicits feelings of fear in the first place.

Some users have even offered harsh criticism, claiming these requests are nothing more than selfish players using trypophobia as an excuse to try and change something about the game they don’t like. The controversy quickly spread beyond the forums, eventually making its way to Twitter. In fact, the topic gained so much attention that it resulted in the icon receiving an official redesign a mere two weeks after going viral.

Naoki Yoshida, producer and director of FFXIV, made a statement in which he explained what trypophobia was and provided more reasoning behind the decision to change the sage’s job icon. “The severity of the reaction varies between people, and what triggers it in some may not do so in others. But regardless of such differences, you have given us your earnest feedback, and there’s still time to change things. Considering also the fact that job icons are prominently visible in the game, and that they also appear on merchandise, we’ve made the decision to redesign the sage icon.”

As for the icon’s new design, Yoshida explained they have reduced the number of holes present, the main element which triggers trypophobia, and also expanded upon their original concept of basing the icon’s design on the weapons used by sages. He goes on to ask for understanding from players who might have preferred the previous design over the new one.

In FFXIV, the design of a job’s icon could be considered one of the main elements that determines the overall image a job has. For this reason, it is a rare occasion indeed for such an icon to be changed. FFXIV has seen a recent surge in the number of players in Europe and the United States. Perhaps one of the reasons so many players continue to support the game is because of instances such as this which demonstrate how dedicated the team is to responding quickly to players’ concerns, even when opinions surrounding the topic are so divided.

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