Damir Kolar wrote 800 pages, give or take, on the topic of Final Fantasy XII. I find that moving. The guy sits down at his keyboard and pours out his passion for console RPGs in miles of text. How can you not love him for that?
"Yes, bully for him," you say. "Who would want to read it, though?" Well, this will sound crazy, but: millions of people.
That's because Kolar isn't some half-cocked savant cranking out a magnum opus of neo-gothic RPG fan fiction. He writes FAQs - those painstakingly crafted game guides that rescue your sorry ass when you're up against a brutal boss fight and you just can't figure out how to win and this game is so unfair and seriously you are about to LOSE IT.
"FAQ" used to mean "frequently asked questions" but in online gaming communities like GameFAQs.com it has come to mean walkthroughs, guides, item lists - anything that keeps you from hurling your controller at the wall in disgust. FAQ means salvation. And a mostly anonymous guild of dedicated authors specialise in providing it.
They don't ask for anything in return. That must piss off the people who print the glossy strategy guides your local game store props up by the register. The publisher types are just trying to turn an honest profit. Meanwhile, the FAQ authors are writing more detailed, more flavourful guides, and giving them away for free.
My question is: why? Don't get me wrong, I think it's normal and commendable for people to be generous with their time. I like to think that we all have that charitable side to us.
But then again, 800 pages. I haven't even written 800 words here, and already I've taken two naps and what I like to call a "sleep break." There's something extraordinary about the selfless dedication you find in the game-guide ecosystem. So I chatted up a few of the FAQ world's luminaries to see what drives them.
"I've done everything the game has to offer."
You may know Damir Kolar from the first three paragraphs of this article. Unless you're reading this like a FAQ, skimming only the bits you want and ignoring the rest. That's how most people use the things, after all. You wouldn't dip into Chapter 7 of The Brothers Karamazov and declare yourself good to go, but hey, nobody said FAQs were great literature, either.
The 32-year-old Kolar posts to GameFAQs under the name Split Infinity. He specialises in sprawling Japanese RPGs. He documents their animals, vegetables, and minerals with the enthusiasm of a 19th-century naturalist in the sub-Saharan jungle. If you need to know how a Kfuga Lily responds to Beam attacks in Xenosaga Episode II, Split has you covered.