The addictive fantasy of Persona is not in magic, but in teenage independence

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For all of the surreal, power-tripping, ridiculous fantasy elements, it’s the mundane in Persona that sticks with me strongest.

Getting coffee with a friend, playing some darts, studying for school, getting a part-time job. It’s easy to scoff when you hear about video games including such low-stakes, meaningless activities. And yet: I don’t think I’m an outlier for feeling that these little touches add up to an experience of “real life” and “the passage of time” that are difficult for other video games to evoke.

Persona is a series of fantasy RPGs that involve teenagers making contracts with demons, harnessing their powers, and usually fighting unfathomable Gods for the fate of the world. It’s also a series that is perhaps best known for simulating the full school year, day-by-day, of a Japanese high schooler. …


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It’s 2020 and we’re all trying to find ways to spend the time.

Maybe you’re baking bread. Or learning to knit. Or catching up on an old TV show or film series.

Maybe, like me, you’ve found a sense of peace in things that are repetitive or mundane.

“Slice-of-life” is such an odd genre name, but it’s fitting. It’s certainly descriptive: these types of stories generally are just giving us little slices of the characters’ lives. The feel of the phrase, too, seems appropriate. …


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Everyone who plays video games has an opinion about ‘em.

This honestly feels like it’s even more the case for games than it is for movies. In my experience, there are a lot of folks (who aren’t writers or “content creators”) who will see a movie like Avengers: Endgame and have about 2 sentences of an opinion on it, and nothing else to add. It was alright, it was fun. Or maybe it sucked, and it was boring.

But if early message boards and modern social media networks are any indication, everyone who plays games has a lot to say on their experiences playing them. …


So you’re a fan of wizards, witches, and mages? Here are my top recommendations for you.

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Mages of Mystralia

Is there anything more magical in the world of fantasy media than wizards and witches?

I mean, in a literal sense, probably not.

If you’re like me, you’ve always gravitated towards mages, sorcerers, magicians, and such in the world of fantasy tropes. Maybe it’s the class you always pick in the games you play. Or maybe you can’t stop thinking of the concept of a “school for wizards.”

This list is a handy set of recommendations not just for you, but also for my future self. I’ll continuously update this over time when I come across something new that really scratches that magical itch. …


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The ecosytem of games is a pretty bizarre place right now, for both developers and players.

To illustrate the point, let’s do a quick compare-and-contrast with movies.

For better or for worse, the formula of the US’s Hollywood box office is pretty easy to follow at a glance.

Check your nearest theater’s available films and you usually see a similar breakdown: a large chunk of movies aiming for mainstream “blockbuster” success, a chunk of films aiming for a more critical or prestigious award-season type of success, and maybe a few smaller or more niche productions.

If you follow up on that by checking out the country’s film festivals, you’ll see another big chunk of the film ecosystem: independent films, heartfelt documentaries, experimental films, etc. …


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Are Sonic games “good”?

This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind whenever this long-lasting series is brought up in conversation. Defenders will make a case for it, listing off the ways that the games have meant a lot to them. Detractors will roll out a laundry list of critiques, arguing that the glaring flaws make the game an inappropriate entry to be ranked in the pantheon of great video games.

But what exactly does make something appropriate to be ranked like that?

What are we even talking about when we say something is a “great game”?

Why do some factors indicate greatness, and some factors hold little weight in our minds? …


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“What kind of games do you play?”

Well…

I’ve always loved video games. But if you ever asked me what my favorite games were, or if I had a favorite genre, I wouldn’t really know what to say. I’m not really particularly skilled at or well-versed in any particular genre. I play a little of this, a little of that. I’m a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” kind of situation.

I’m not a sharp-reflex adrenaline junkie that excels at action games and FPSes, but I’ve dabbled.

I’m not a dedicated RPG expert who has conquered 80-hour games with sprawling stories, but I’ve dabbled.


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I can’t stop thinking about Super Mario 64.

If you had asked me years ago what my favorite childhood games were, I don’t think Mario 64 would have even come to my mind. I certainly played it a lot when it released. I wasn’t great at completing games (I’m still not) but I had my torn-up little Player’s Guide and I pushed through to the end. I pored over every corner of the world. I did my best, and certainly enjoyed it.

Now, thanks to the popularity of Mario 64 in the speedrunning, glitch-exploiting, and VGM remix communities, the game feels like it’s been brought back onto the forefront of my mind. For the past year or so, it seems to pop back into my brain almost every day. …

About

Kyle Labriola

I’m an artist, writer, and indie game developer who work has worked on various games. You can find me on Twitter, @kylelabriola

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