The Start of a Brand New Series
While the Persona series started out as a spin-off of the popular Megami Tensei series, it has grown into an institution in its own right. Every year, it seems like we are seeing more and more titles related to the Persona series than we are in most other franchise, showing how popular it is truly becoming all around the world.
With all of this popularity, it begs the question: how should Christians view a series like this? On the surface, the subject matter that this franchise deals with seems pretty dark and nefarious: demon summoning, negotiations with seemingly evil forces, twisted theological viewpoints, flippant takes on God and angels, etc. It certainly seems like most things you read about Persona games are exactly what many of our parents warned us about in the 1990s with the Pokemon games.
And yet, below the surface, there is a lot to be said about the kinds of messages that this franchise gives off that certainly warrants another look. After all, one could certainly read the likes of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and come away with similar ideas about how they treat the supernatural and mystical; yet, their Christian veneer and commitment helps to put those concepts into context. While the Persona series is far from a Christian influence and is even diametrically opposed to our faith in many ways, this certainly opens up a lot in terms of conversations we can have about it as well as find how the worldviews behind the franchise compare and contrast with our Christian worldview.
Thus, the “Summer of Persona” is here to explore those ideas. During the month of July, I will be taking a look at the three main games in the series that are popular among gamers today and dissecting via the written word what we can take away from each of those games. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to play through the original Persona or the Persona 2 duology, so I cannot yet offer any firsthand analysis of any of those games on their own. Even still, I think looking at the most popular entries in the spin-off franchise will be beneficial to see how they became so well-loved.
For each game, I will be using some of the following questions as my framework in order to bring out the most important themes of the game:
- What is it about this game that appeals to players?
- How do the characters and story resonate with the one playing?
- In what ways do the music and visual presentation of the game communicate its message?
- What theological insights can we glean from this game, whether good or bad?
- Is is proper for Christians to play these games?
- What kind of content do we need to be aware of?
It is my hope that through this examination that we will all become a little more learned about how games can influence us for the good or the bad. Developing our analytical tools as Christians is a helpful practice so as to be more informed about what kind of entertainment we, as gamers, partake in and how it can affect us.
Have you played the Persona series? What are your thoughts and opinions on the games? Or do you perhaps believe it would be best to not play such games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!