Sage is one of the new jobs coming to Final Fantasy 14 as part of the Endwalker expansion, a healer class that fights with four floating blades called nouliths. Its icon represents those four weapons, and the MMO’s designers probably weren’t expecting it to receive as strong a reaction as it did.
“When we released new details for sage and reaper on the special site, we also included their icons,” producer and director Naoki Yoshida wrote in an update, “not thinking that they were particularly big reveals. However, we soon received feedback from players all over the world, who told us that the sage icon made them uncomfortable or fearful.”
It’s due to trypophobia, an irrational aversion to clusters of small, irregular holes. As all articles on the internet are obliged to mention it’s not a condition recognized by medical science. But if you’ve ever seen a picture of lotus pods or surinam toads (the ones whose young hatch from a honeycomb of pockets embedded in their backs) and felt your skin crawl, you understand the sensation. The theory is that it’s related to our in-built fears of insect infestations and decaying flesh, and the photoshops transposing patterns of holes onto human skin sure make me wish I hadn’t googled them. But then I think the holes in crumpets make them look gross.
Anyway, the original design of the Sage’s icon inspired a thread on the Japanese FF14 forum that’s currently 24 pages long. Turns out that people have strong feelings about things that look like a cluster of holes (the design of the iPhone 11 Pro’s three camera lenses had a similar effect).
The redesigned icon retains the concept of four levitating blades, but no longer emphasizes the holes in them. “The design concept is unchanged,” Yoshida wrote, “with the icon being based on the four nouliths which form the sage’s armament. The holes in the original design were added for detail, but they ended up appearing as a cluster. To address the problem, the new icon reduces the holes while accentuating the design concept. Now, comparisons will inevitably be made, and some of you may prefer the original. But we believe that designs like this are things that grow on you as you play the job, and ask for your understanding as we head into Endwalker.”
Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker is scheduled to release on November 23.