Tag: Shin Megami Tensei

The Games that Guide Us – Persona and Empathy

It can be said that the stories that we experience are one of the primary things that allow us to grow as humans, because they let us experience things that are outside of our direct base of knowledge. This is the reason I think that video games can be a very important narrative tool. When playing a narrative-driven video game, not only is the player reading about an experience, that player is directly involved in interacting with the experience. The best games, then, are the ones that can craft a narrative that is personally and directly relevant to a subject and can give a player insight into other experiences and points of view.

It is fitting, then, that one of the first articles that I write about this is on the subject of empathy. It is widely theorized that people achieve a greater sense of empathy with others when they have read stories told from other viewpoints. Empathy, as a trait, can be defined in this sense as the ability to care what is happening to another person to such an extent as to be able to emotionally connect to that person and relate to what they are going through oneself. Empathy for others is a large part of how humans have connected to each other throughout history; if one individual can know even a part of the pain of another, that individual becomes more invested in the removal or prevention of that pain, after all.

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Undertale and Player Choice

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So, I have this friend. We’ll call her ‘Lauren’, because, well, that’s what her name is. She plays a lot of video games, and plays a lot of music from a lot of video games, and is generally very enthusiastic about them to a degree that borders upon indescribable. She tends to criticize video game plots and characterization and themes because let’s face it, no matter how far video games have come in the past couple years, there have been just as many steps backwards. And besides, if one loves a thing, one should criticize it in the interests of making it better. I guess what I’m saying is, when Lauren recommends a game, I tend to listen to her because she puts a great deal of thought behind her recommendations. So, when she recommended that I play a little indie game by the name of Undertale, I paid attention.

I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to write about games that were popular and that everyone already knew about. And here I am, writing about a game that everyone has at least heard something about in the past couple of months. But here we are.

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Opening Turn: Pokemon X/Y

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Okay, time to come clean with you guys. I’ve never gotten into Pokemon before. I don’t exactly know why, either. Maybe it was because when it first came out, I was slightly older than the target audience they were intending it to be for. I’m not really sure. I even gave it a try once, when, at the insistence of a friend in college, I gave Pokemon Diamond a shot. And sure, it seemed like the kind of game that should have grabbed me immediately, because I really do enjoy games that have monster collection mechanics. Perhaps it was that during college, I didn’t have the time that those sorts of games would require of me, or maybe it was just because that game in particular just didn’t click with me.

Now, years later, that same friend insisted to me that it was because Pokemon Diamond was really one of the worse entries in the series, and that I should give it another shot with Pokemon Y. After hearing that quite a few things were getting updated in this entry, I grudgingly agreed that maybe it would be a good point in the series for me to jump in, and I gave it a shot.

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Life Lessons as Taught by Persona

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It always takes a second playthrough of a game to make one look at it through new eyes. It isn’t that Persona 4 wasn’t amazing the first time. It was. It is quite possibly one of the best games in the Shin Megami Tensei series, which is a lot like saying that dark chocolate is the best kind of chocolate. Unless you don’t like chocolate in which case it’s not like that at all and what is wrong with you. But I digress. I recently acquired Persona 4: Golden for the PS Vita, which basically takes everything from Persona 4 and makes it better. So much better that I really don’t mind dumping another hundred and twenty hours into a game I’ve already beaten once.

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