Question time: Love is in the air~

Portraying love in a meaningful way within a videogame while also giving the player agency in how a relationship plays out is something developers have struggled with for years now. Unless a game tells a linear narrative focused on love like Silent Hill 2 or Final Fantasy VIII, often games tend to trivialize it. There’s long since been a debate as to what developers and franchises “get it right” and of course Persona is in the heart of this discussion.

In the next episode, we plan to discuss the portrayal of love both in platonic & romantic ways  in Persona, and compare/contrast it with the likes of other franchises like Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, and whatever else may come to our minds. So if you have any questions or comments, now is the time to get them in!

(Header image by CJ)

19 thoughts on “Question time: Love is in the air~

  1. I often hear complaints about a character being railroaded into being the main character’s love interest. But are there any cases of you taking issue when a game’s writing forces the protagonist to be friends with a character? (I don’t mean as opposed to romantic, I mean a character you just don’t want the protagonist to be at all friendly with)

  2. I hear a lot of complaints on various sites that Persona 4 and Persona 3 are pretty much just harem games, as in the main character gets all the girls for no reason while the other males in the cast are treated as losers by the same girls. Do you think this accusation is true and if so do you consider it a bad thing? If you think it’s not true, then what separates P3/P4 from being the same as harem games.

  3. A few questions, what are your thoughts on being able to choose a love interest, a la persona/mass effect etc, as opposed to a specific one being written into the story, a la FFX/Uncharted etc?

    Secondly, One of the main reasons that I find love stories contrived is due to length. A movie or game telling the story usually doesn’t give it enough time or plot relevance to develop properly and so it usually feels tacked on as a side story. Other than Catherine, can you think of any other games where love/relationships are the CORE component of the story?

    Finally, when games tend to do ‘friendship’ they usually go Protag+Best Bud+Others, Persona 4 is a good example of this. I personally dont have a ‘best friend’ but a small group of equally close friends. Why do you think media tends to choose category A more often over the more natural (in my opinion) category B?

  4. Thoughts on the inclusion of gay relationships in Persona 5? If so, should they go the route of Dragon Age and make a designated gay character or have some characters essentially be bisexual?

    Also, what kind of importance should P5 have on relationships other than a social link ending with “I love you”? If Catherine is any hint at relationship ideas from the Team Persona, perhaps you’ll have to maintain your relationship otherwise you could risk losing your partner.

  5. The social links are an excellent part of Persona 5 that gives insight into characters and their relationship with the protagonist. In addition, it gives the player choice in terms of whom they interact. However, I think that social linking stumbles in execution when it comes to love. A linear road marches on to being either SUPER BFFs or Lovers only requiring simple answers to questions/situations that any normal person would answer correctly. The only exception I can think of is Ai Ebihara where she asks you be to be couple and if you accept she breaks up with you because of how superficial a relationship it is. In the majority though it is essentially, play your simple cards right and they will fall in love with you.

    So my question is really how do you think friendship and romance in social links can be improved in Persona 5?

    What I would like to see is a bit of interweaving in links, like if you spend time with X and become friends then when you and Y are faced with an issue, you can get assistance from X. In terms of platonic love, a close knit group should have more interactions together especially with different people to show that kind of bond forming, otherwise it makes the only connection to others their relationship with the protagonist.

    Or perhaps, as your character you could go around playing matchmaker, something like discovering that P and Q have a common interest and then organizing an event to bring them together. Or even R confiding in you that they are interested in S but is shy, you could go to S whom you know well and talk about what they like in people. I think really what I want to see is the linearity of romance and friendship to be much more hidden because people’s relationships are complex and a little bit unpredictable.

    Sorry about the long question/statement 😛

  6. Hello, hello!

    I’m interested in your thoughts on the *cut* Yosuke romance route from Persona 4. For those that are not aware, It was strongly implied that Yosuke was once a love interest in Persona 4 (things ranging from lovers flags, to cut dialogue where he basically confesses to you and cut dialogue from other party members that also implied as such)

    Why do you think it was removed? Did the publishers from higher up remove it?
    Do you regret the decision?

    Personally, i’m deeply saddened by it’s removal. For one, it would have played into Yosuke’s insecurity over homosexuality and it would been a solid portrayal of a gay character.

    What do you think? This is Yukiko’s mother, signing out!

  7. How come on the last podcast you said that Igor was voiced by JB Blanc because every website i have been to including Wikipedia and the SMT wiki says that he was voiced by Vic Mignogna who voices Junpei. I went back and watched the scene with Igor i could definitly hear a hint of Junpei’s voice when he started talking.

  8. Hey Slink FM crew hows it going. I have a 10 questions for you today if you dont mind.

    1. Did you know that the P3 Protagonist movie name Makoto Yuki is the same name as a real life japanese porn star.

    2. This question is not serious but i was wondering is there any members of the slink fm crew that actually likes P3 more than P4. I am one of those people that likes P3 more than P4 and i get kind of bored when you guys mostly talk about P4 and not P3 in most of the podcasts.

    3. Do you play the Persona games by naming the Protagonist his canon name because i do.

    4. Who is your favorite Persona Character. Mine is the P3 Protagonist Makoto Yuki.

    5. In P5 what way do you think the cast will be able to summon their Persona’s. For example the Evokers in P3 and the Tarot Cards in P4 or will it be like P1 and P2 where they summon there Persona’s at will.

    6. What special accessorie do you think the cast of P5 will add to their outfit when they enter the place where they fight Shadows. For example the SEES armbands in P3 and the glasses in P4.

    7. What did you think of the Theodore PQ trailer and hearing Bryce Papenbrook voicing him. To me he sounded like a very polite Makoto Naegi/Kirito/Eren Yaeger. So he basically sounds like a 15 year old boy coming from a man who looks like he is in his mid 20’s to early 30’s.

    8. Do you think in the recently announced PQ manga regarding the P3 Protagonist since he quote on quote has no official name in a official Persona game do you think he will be called Minato Arisato or Makoto Yuki or will they come up with a new name for him just for this manga. While the P4 protagonist will probably still be called Yu Narukami.

    9. Do you think we will ever get a english dub of the P3 movies. The first and second movie have already come out in japan and the third movie is coming out Spring of next year and we still have not heard any news of a english dub of any of the movies. Do you think their waiting for all the movies to come out and be released so they can get them all at once and dub them one by one.

    10. Regarding my previous question do you think AniplexUSA will release a collectors edition blu-ray box set of the second P3 movie and the rest of the movies. The did it with the first movie so i really dont see why they would not do it with the rest of them. I currently own the collecters edition blu-ray box set of the first movie and if AniplexUSA did release them i would definitly buy them.

    Sorry if i asked to many questions but i really wanted to ask them on the podcast. You guys keep up the good work and have a awesome day.

    • Sorry but to add to my last question i just found out that they are releasing a collecters edition blu ray box set of the second P3 movie and it comes out in Japan March 11th of next year. So do you think AniplexUSA will bring it over here like they did the first movie.

    • They’re certainly free to prove me wrong in this case, but in general, when the S.Link crew requests questions, they’re looking for ones directly pertinent to the specific topic at hand.

      However, if you haven’t done so, I’d recommend registering at NeoGAF so that you can join the PersonaGAF community. They’ll be more receptive to multiple topics at once and are just a bunch of nice people in general.

  9. I think one of the key components of any relationship, whether in life or in media, is good chemistry between the two people or characters involved. This chemistry is usually based around similarities in the characters’ world view, or compatible reactions in response to events the couple faces. In games with nameless player avatars like Persona 3 and 4, the player controls a character in the game world, and can start a relationship with established characters. However, the player character’s personality is both shaped by the players experiences in real life and only expressed through limited player choices. Do you then think it’s possible to have chemistry between an established character and a player insert, whose personality is shaped by a foreign world view and only expressed in select conversation options?

  10. I do have a question actually. Well, it may be pointless, but…
    In Persona 5, do you think social link system should affect the main story?
    Or make you be a man whore like in Persona 3 and 4?
    Because personally, I think there’s should be way of only dating one girl and not all girls. Like when you complete this one girls social link, should you choose to be her lover, that’s it. When you decide to complete some another girls social link, it won’t allow you to date her since you’re in a relationship with that other girl.
    Persona 4’s Valentine’s Day “breaking girls’ hearts” edition, wasn’t pleasant, to say the least and I wound’t want to go through that disaster again.
    Which actually brings me to ask you guys another question.
    Do you think Persona games is suited, in terms of dating and stuff like that, to be a one girl relationship or a harem?

  11. Romances take up maybe 12 minutes in game, the waifu debate online is never ending. Assuming you played a ps2 era Persona before getting into the community: did you care about the dating initially? You always pick your gf for dungeons or something? Any impact?

  12. Two questions:
    1. Do you think that Persona’s relationships could benefit from virtual reality? If so, in what ways?
    2. Have you found that your choices in romantic social links reflect your own preferences in real life? The dating pool’s been one-sided this far, but excepting in cases where completionists might choose to be polyamorous, have you generally acted as you might in real life, or have you pursued characters who would otherwise be outside your “type”?

  13. Hello

    How do you feel about same sex options in Persona? Considering Bioware has latched onto it, I believe Persona should do the same. And not in a half-assed way either.

  14. Dear S. Link,
    One of the many important facets in a love relationship between two individuals is sex, however videogames tend to have a poor portrayal of a sexual relationship, often leading to awkward moments.
    One example that I can think of is Dragon Age: Origins, that game has a pretty good relationship system between your party members that can, in some cases, lead to a relationship and finally into sex. The problem is that the sex scenes feel out of place and looking at two 3D models rubbing each other feels weird, ruinning the moment.
    Then there is games like Ride To Hell or Metro: Last Light that include sex in their games as a way to attract teenagers, or that have a really poor depiction of a sexual relationship like the David Cage games.
    The questions that I’m trying to lead in are: How do you think is the best way of portraying sex in a videogame? Is it better to avoid it all together? And can you think of some examples of games that have a good potrayal of a sexual relationship? Personally, I believe that the “fade to black” in persona 3 and 4 was a good way of handling the issue, leaving the result to the player’s imagination.
    Hope you have a good recording session.

  15. While I do really like the romance elements in P3 & P4, I think that the S.Link system is kind of ill suited to portray a good relationship. You end up as lovers in the last rank, and that’s it, making it essentially just about getting the girl. P4 took a step to better direction with extra events with your girlfriend, like in Christmas, New Year and such. So should there be more events as lovers? Maybe a pseudo S.Link with the girl you are dating. Or maybe Lovers S.Link for a character could be unlocked after you have finished their S.Link as lovers.

    Also how do you feel about romance between the other main characters? I feel like this could add some interesting elements and tension to the story. For example in P3, the romance between Junpei and Chidori was something I really liked. Not only was it really sweet and interesting to follow, it also fleshed out Junpei’s character and saved him from the “Butt-Monkey Yosuke”-Syndrome. : )

    Thanks for choosing such interesting topic!

  16. In the Mass Effect series, I always found that the romance options were pretty forced. Sure, I cared about the characters, but after meticulously trying to get romantic options with as many PCs as I could in ME2, I just didn’t care about that in ME3 (Except for Tali. Tali’Zorah vas Normandy best space waifu, btw)

    When I first started playing Persona, I ran into the opposite – I didn’t care about them so much in P3 (foolishly), and then worked on maxxing them all in P4. The tangible benefits were nice, but I wound up truly caring about all the people in P4.

    So my question then – do you think the carrot of increased abilities/power, etc. is a way to motivate players into developing feelings for the characters or is it just ancillary noise in terms of getting to know a character?

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