Over on Kotaku’s reader run community, Talk Amongst Yourselves, one gamer shares the story of how Persona 4 gave them perspective and inspired them to improve their lives twice over. Here’s an excerpt:
Amidst this depression, I have once again (like I did with Majora’s Mask during the last stages of my grad school experience) turned to my favorite hobby: video games. And the game of choice for me this time is Persona 4: Golden. I bought the Golden version of the game when it came out (ah, the joys of actually having money), but never got around to playing it. I don’t usually replay games, especially 80-hour long RPGs, and when I do it usually takes years before I’ll consider it. But something lately has called me to the game, and I’m heeding the call.
This time, the game is on a portable, so it’s a much more individual experience than the first time I played it. I don’t have friends sitting around me, helping me make dialogue choices or rooting for me in the game’s lengthy dungeons. Instead, it’s just me, tired from my barista job, and a cat, sitting on a couch in a living room. But, that’s okay, and it’s okay because the game is excellent. It’s everything I remember it being: exciting, dramatic, funny, and, best of all, engaging. More than anything though, I think the game is helpful. It’s helping me to put things into perspective. Things are rough right now in terms of my goals and my finances, but they could be worse. Interacting with the game’s many social link characters, I’m reminded how everyone has struggles, and I’m not alone in mine. I’m reminded about how important it is to try and connect to other people, even if you don’t have the energy to put forth much of an effort.
Persona 4 requires players to schedule their lives carefully, trying to fit enough time for school, jobs, extracurricular activities, friendships, and dungeon crawling. Activity scheduling is also a technique used in cognitive behavioural therapy. Tracking your activity and scheduling time for social interactions, pleasurable activities, productive activities and physical activities can help some people coping with depression regain motivation and rediscover the hobbies they enjoy.
Scheduling Yu Narukami’s days isn’t quite the same thing, but if that structure spills over into your real life, who knows? You could find it helpful.