There are 6,970 ellipses in the main story of the epic Japanese role-playing game Xenogears, according to one intrepid player who decided to spend his free time counting them all. Todd, who goes by SpikeyHairedOrphan on Reddit, thinks that if you counted all of the optional dialogue, you’d probably find thousands more.
Ellipses—those three-dot punctuation marks often used to indicate a pause or someone trailing off—are common in Japanese role-playing games, largely because they’re common in Japanese. They pop up especially often in Xenogears, a dramatic game about giant robots and overwrought dialogue, and while Todd was replaying it recently, he started to wonder just how often.
“I had played through Xenogears several times when I was younger, and a few years ago decided to relieve the magic by playing it again,” Todd told me in an e-mail. “However due to the very little free time I had after getting a few hours into the game I decided to watch it on Twitch instead. My wife and I often watch streams together and look for opportunities to make little jokes about the games we watch. While we were watching Xenogears one of us (I can’t remember who) commented that you pretty much could not get through a text box without seeing a ‘...’ In that moment, mostly to be a smart ass I started to count them. I lost count just after 300, and that was only about 25 minutes of gameplay. In that moment I thought ‘I need to know how many ‘...’s are in this game because it must be ludicrous.’”
So Todd started playing again, he said. Then, about 25 hours in, he changed his mind. He’d been counting any ellipses he found anywhere—be it main story or optional dialogue—but what he really wanted to know was how many you’d have to see if you wanted to beat the game. What was the bare minimum number of ellipses you need to read to finish Xenogears?
“The best way for me to figure that out was by looking for a speed run,” he said. “I knew a runner would only do the bare minimum to get through the game, and therefore I would not see any unnecessary ‘...’s if I counted the ones seen in a speed run.”
So he used a speedrun.
Thanks to Todd, we now know that Xenogears has 6,970 sets of three dots each. Thank you, Todd. “I love everything about JRPGs, even their quirks,” he told me, “and I am glad that my ridiculous idea for a project had brought laughs to so many.”