FFVII: Housed

Every subculture has an idiolect, those strange words and turns of phrase that are nearly unintelligible to the uninitiated. Gaming culture, of course, is no different. It may even be the worst offender since it’s no secret its people lust after arcana. You can even begin to quantify your level of nerdery by how many of these World of Warcraft words and phrases you understand: DPS, tank, Pug, INC, moon is sheep (anything else is a wrong), adds, AoE, and the list goes on.

The best, most robust words, however will often spill over into everyday world that may sound unusual to those outside the culture. The literal meanings extend to metaphorical ones. For Example:

  1. cheating/broken: This, in a gaming context, means something is “too good” and, depending on who it benefits (i.e, me or you) defines whether its use is pejorative. I.e., “This brownie is cheating.” Yes, I have actually said that unironically in real life.
  2. kicker: As in “here’s the kicker.” This term actually comes from poker: “A side card in your 5 card poker hand that determines which player wins a tie-break. The player with the higher kicker wins.”
  3. pawn: I don’t really need to explain this one, do I?

Now any competent speaker of language will know when he his particular cant is contextually intelligible (a teenager speaks differently to his friends than his parents), but every so often a word becomes so integral to his language that he can easily forget that most people don’t understand it.

For me, that word is “housed” and it all started here in Final Fantasy VII:*

From the last save point, you have had to climb a long stairswell, harrow a boss, and read about twenty-five minutes of dialogue, mostly Barret freaking out because a very large portion of the floating city, Midgar, has fallen on his area of the slums. Barret then runs off screen with Tifa chasing him, leaving you alone for the small stretch of screen you see above. I suspect the developers didn’t realize this, but there is (my best guess) a ten percent chance of a random encounter across that stretch with this:

The Hell House above** is, generally, easy enough to deal unless it uses its ability, the Lunattack:

When it is in its house form it only has access to two moves, Erupt and Hell Bomber. It has a 1/3 chance of using Erupt and a 2/3 chance of using Hell Bomber. However, once it reaches 336 HP it has a 1/2 chance of using Suicide Drop. If it uses Suicide Drop it will inflict heavy damage upon the party, and cracks its outer shell, changing forms. Erupt inflicts standard damage and Darkness, Hell Bomber inflicts 1.5 times the damage of Erupt and Suicide Drop inflicts Earth-elemental damage to all party members.

When it has changed forms Hell House’s stats are boosted and it attacks differently and with different attacks altogether. It has a 1/4 chance of using Suicide Drop, a 1/4 chance of using Hell Press, and a 1/2 chance of using Bodyblow. It also has access to a counter move, Lunattack, which it has a 1/4 chance of using when its health is below 25%. Bodyblow inflicts 2.5 times standard damage, Hell Press inflicts 1.5 times standard damage, Suicide Drop inflicts Earth-elemental damage to all party members and Lunattack inflicts 1.75 times standard damage.

Now the Hell House doesn’t change form until he takes damage, but at this point in the game you are incapable of one-shotting him, so post-transformation he will have dealt you damage. This, it so happens, is enough damage that its second attack, if it’s a Lunattack, means insta-death which, in turn, means a rinse, repeat of a long stairwell, harrowing boss, and twenty-five minutes of dialogue. Now imagine this happened to you without any knowledge of this possibility and you begin to get a sense of what it means to get “housed” or the schadenfreude of watching it happen to someone else.

*I learned a few years ago there is another more common etymological derivative from “schoohoused” which, roughly, means the same thing.

**You’ll notice, however, in the above screen shot that Cloud is not alone. THIS IS BECAUSE I AM LAZY. I would have had to run up the long set of stairs, harrow a boss, and run through twenty-five minutes of dialogue (again, for the umpteenth time) to get said screen shot. Thankfully, this laziness unintentionally underscores my point.

Read Gavin Craig’s week 2 post

Read Daniel J. Hogan’s week 2 post

Archive of all Gamers’ Club posts

10 Responses to “FFVII: Housed”
  1. Gavin Craig says:

    Happily, I seem to have escaped being housed. :-)

    I’m taking from the screen shoots that you’re playing on a PC. Any system compatibility issues with the game as time has passed? What sort of a controller do you use (or not)?

  2. Gavin Craig says:

    Also, not knowing much about your personal life, I’m left to my happy imagination as to who “Marian” is. ;-)

    • All those names, actually, are an homage to earlier days since this whole experience is fundamentally nostalgic. Nobody but people from high school call me, “Andy” and “Marian” was an old college girlfriend (I have no current crushes, now that I think about it). “Mr. T,” of course, is just name that because it’s the rule.

      • Gavin Craig says:

        Yeah, for better or worse, that’s why I didn’t rename. I love my wife (Hi, honey!), but naming Tifa after my wife doesn’t exactly have the adolescent thrill of naming her after a crush, and having already to schedule my playing time, um, delicately, that’s added stress I don’t need.

        I was also probably put off by my recent re-play of FFI, where I did name the white mage after my wife, but being limited to 4 characters meant that I played the game with a somewhat ambiguous “Dani.”

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] them here. My two pieces, so far, have been how to play FFVII properly and, my personal favorite, an historical, personal etymology of the verb “housed.” posted by Andrew Simone in games | * | […]

  2. […] Chastened, I leveled up, caught a chocobo, and made a run to the marshes, only to have the bad luck to run head-on into a Zolom, which meant that it was on me before I had time to change direction. This time, I died. Totally and utterly. And, like an idiot, I hadn’t saved! I lost an hour of gameplay. As Andrew would say, I was housed. […]

  3. […] so satisfying. Even though some of the bosses are terrifyingly hard and the opportunities to get housed are many (so sorry about the data loss, Gavin), the game keeps putting out. You feel a real sense […]

  4. […] the save point and have to do it all over again. The technical term for this, I believe is getting housed, and I would describe the final battle of any RPG as a structural housing—a housing built […]

  5. […] this is a relic of days before save points, quicksaves, and autosaves, days when getting housed was just part of playing an RPG, days when you would lose an entire term paper when your word […]

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