persona 5 road screenshot

The creator of Persona on life, Japanese culture, and the unconscious

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. In the crowded world of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs), the critically acclaimed Persona series has stood out for a decade and counting. Defying conventions established by other popular franchises like Final Fantasy, the series forgoes the usual swords and sorcery for something closer to home. Using subtle surrealism instead, Persona layers its more fantastical elements with social commentary. Players venture into a strange, shadowy world hidden behind their television screens, where enemies are a unique blend of the psychological and supernatural. “The Persona series addresses problems that people hold deep in their hearts,” said Katsura Hashino, the…

Obey Street Art

The videogames that want to be disobeyed

Early in Far Cry 4 (2014), you sit at a dinner table across from the brutal antagonist, Pagan Min. While remaining unnervingly calm, he tortures a man by stabbing his back with a fork. As they leave the room, Pagan Min turns to you and says, “Don’t move, I’ll be right back.” The cutscene ends and you soon learn that you can move with ease. A quest prompt appears and tells you to “explore De Fleur’s mansion.” Will you listen to Pagan Min’s instructions to stay still, or disregard them and obey the game itself? If you ignore this prompt…


The problem with empathy games

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. A niche genre of videogames hopes to inspire players to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, leading to an important discussion about how players experience empathy. Biofeedback videogames feed off players’ physiological responses, impacting gameplay in new and interesting ways. But what happens when developers create games designed to evoke a specific emotional or psychological response? Empathy games attempt to answer that question. These videogames aspire to enhance a player’s understanding of an outside perspective, particularly those pertaining to real-world struggles and inequalities, through interactive experiences. “You have to…


Using videogames to combat mental illness stigma

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Mental illness is a complex, nuanced subject that many forms of entertainment have tried to faithfully portray. Movies such as Silver Linings Playbook and TV series like Showtimes’ Homeland have succeeded to varying degrees, but many attempts fall into clichés that perpetuate misinformation. Despite some mishaps like Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, where those who suffer from mental illness are seen as defective, video games are a powerful vehicle for exploring this topic in new and enlightening ways. “The challenge games face in regard to the mental health discussion is how…

Museum of Feelings

Finding disappointment at New York’s Museum of Feelings

Open from November 24th to December 15th, the Museum of Feelings has been generating buzz recently as New York’s latest pop-up, announced with a mysterious website and slick series of subway ads that made me want to visit if only to find out what the hell it is. The resulting trip gave me feelings, sure, but not the kind I was hoping for, and probably not those the organizers were going for either. When I first arrived outside the Museum of Feelings earlier this week, I was greeted with a line and display reminiscent of the Apple Store. Fitting, given that I…