In Persona 5, the main characters are a group of high school students who discover that they possess the power to enter a parallel world called the “Metaverse,” where they can confront and overcome the distorted desires of adults. Through their experiences in the Metaverse, the characters undergo a process of individuation, which is the psychological process of becoming a unique and integrated individual.
Structuralism, a theoretical framework developed by Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, emphasizes the importance of language and social structures in shaping our understanding of reality. In the context of Persona 5, the game’s use of the Metaverse can be seen as a metaphor for the way that social structures shape our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
The Metaverse represents the internal world of the characters, where they confront the desires and fears that they have repressed in order to conform to societal norms. By facing and overcoming these desires, the characters are able to break free from the social structures that have constrained their sense of self and become more fully realized individuals.
Youth culture is also an important theme in Persona 5. The game explores the ways in which young people are often forced to conform to societal expectations and how this can lead to feelings of frustration and alienation. Through their experiences in the Metaverse, the characters are able to reject these expectations and forge their own paths, becoming true individuals in the process.
In conclusion, Persona 5 can be understood as a structuralist exploration of the process of individuation, youth culture, and the impact of societal norms on the development of the self. The game’s use of the Metaverse as a metaphor for the internal world allows the player to witness the characters breaking free from the constraints of society and becoming fully realized individuals.
Video game commentary, blogs, and reviews, as paratextural artifacts in Reader-Response Criticism.
Who am I… really?
Persona 5 can also be used as a tool for teaching about reader response theory, critical theory, and new media in a college curriculum.
Reader response theory, which emphasizes the role of the reader in shaping the meaning of a text, is relevant to Persona 5 in that the game allows players to engage with the characters and the story in a personal way. Players are able to form their own interpretations of the game’s themes and messages, based on their own experiences and perspectives. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the game and its characters, as well as the player’s own self-awareness.
Critical theory, which focuses on the ways in which power and inequality are perpetuated in society, can also be applied to Persona 5. The game’s depiction of the corrupt and oppressive nature of adult society can be seen as a commentary on the ways in which those in power use their position to maintain their own interests and repress the voices of the marginalized. By playing the game, students can become more aware of these issues and the ways in which they are reflected in the world around them.
Finally, Persona 5 can be used to teach about new media, specifically, video games as a medium. The game’s use of a parallel world and its integration of RPG elements, such as character development and decision-making, demonstrate the potential of video games to tell complex and nuanced stories, while also providing opportunities for player agency and interactivity. By analyzing Persona 5, students can gain a better understanding of the narrative and aesthetic possibilities of video games as a medium.
In summary, Persona 5 can be used as an effective teaching tool in a college curriculum as it allows students to engage in a personal way with the themes and messages of the game while learning about reader response theory, critical theory, and new media.
Possible questions for further research:
- How does Persona 5’s use of the Metaverse as a metaphor for the internal world relate to the concept of the “unconscious” in psychoanalysis?
- In what ways does Persona 5’s portrayal of youth culture reflect the experiences of young people in contemporary society?
- How does the game’s emphasis on player agency and decision-making relate to the concept of “ludonarrative dissonance” in video game studies?
- How does Persona 5’s depiction of the corrupt and oppressive nature of adult society relate to the theories of critical race, feminist, and queer theory.
Media philosophers and texts that may be useful:
- Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation” (1994) – Baudrillard’s concept of simulation as a replacement for reality can be applied to the game’s use of the Metaverse.
- Roland Barthes’ “Death of the Author” (1967) – Barthes’ emphasis on the reader’s role in shaping the meaning of a text is relevant to reader response theory as applied to Persona 5.
- Jacques Lacan’s “The Mirror Stage” (1949) – Lacan’s concept of the mirror stage as a formative moment in the development of the self can be applied to the game’s emphasis on individuation.
- Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936) – Benjamin’s analysis of the impact of new technologies on the nature of art can be applied to the game’s use of new media.
- Atlus. (2016). Persona 5. Sony PlayStation 4.
- Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and Simulation. (S. F. Glaser, Trans.). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Barthes, R. (1967). Death of the Author. Aspen, 5-6.
- Lacan, J. (1949). The mirror stage as formative of the I function as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. Écrits: A Selection.
- Benjamin, W. (1936). The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Illuminations. (H. Arendt, Ed.). New York: Schocken Books, pp. 217-251.
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