Two things in this world can make life meaningful: having the strength to forge your own destiny, to live by your own rules, and not be swayed by the whims and wishes of others; and really sticking it to some stranger on the internet. When Twitch streamer CirclMastr spent two years grinding through Final Fantasy VII to get Cloud and Barrett to level 99 before even facing the first boss, he achieved both.
As reported by Kotaku, this incredible, mind-numbingly boring feat was carried out in order to spite a single individual: an unknown user on a private forum named Dick Tree. Back in 2012, Dick Tree had claimed he would be able to hit level 99 in Final Fantasy VII without leaving the Sector 1 Reactor. But, at some point, Dick Tree stopped charting his progress, and CirclMastr decided to take up the task himself in 2015 — “to express,” he says, “my hatred, and more importantly my disdain, for Dick Tree.”
“I got fed up with waiting and, based on my track record of meaningless accomplishments, decided I could do the whole thing before he could bother to finish,” CirclMastr told Kotaku by email. Parts of this voyage were streamed on CirclMastr’s Twitch account, but you can see the final leveling take place at around 53 minutes below:
In order to hit the level cap, CirclMastr estimates that he spent around 500 hours walking around the same few screens in the reactor; grinding through random encounter after random encounter against low-level enemies. To make matters more challenging, the whole enterprise was carried out on a PS1; meaning CirclMastr could not frame-skip or save whenever he pleased.
Some people have pointed out what a tremendous, tremendous waste of time this is. Others have applauded it for being so quintessentially human, to pile hundreds of hours into a task simply to show you can. CirclMastr, though, has his own response, and explained why he kept on grinding in a post on a private forum:
Life does not have inherent meaning; to say that our lives are pointless and our achievements meaningless is to state the obvious. No matter how grand our achievements or how broad their scope, time turns all to dust and death destroys all memory. But that does not mean we cannot ascribe our own meaning to what we do. It is because nothing has meaning unto itself that we are free to create meaning, to make metaphor, and in doing so reflect on ourselves and our world.
Leveling to 99 in the first reactor is pointless and meaningless. So why do I do it? I do it to express my hatred, and more importantly my disdain, for Dick Tree. I do it to express the camaraderie I feel for those of us who have followed this topic for years only to be disappointed by [Dick Tree]. I do it to prove to myself that I can persevere. The act is meaningless; I give it meaning.