My senior year of high school was a strange one. As the youngest of four kids, this was the first time I was truly the only kid at home. I could drive, meaning me hanging out with friends wasn’t contingent on my mom’s ability to drive me places. I had started working, which meant I could afford to buy stuff that I wanted without needing to ask parents or wait for my birthday. For the first time, I felt like my own person.
And this was the time I first played Persona 4.
My older brother had played it while away at college, and let me play his old copy. I knew next to nothing about the game, but was looking for a new game to get into, so I decided to give it a shot. I was immediately sucked into the game, and it quickly became all I could think about whenever I wasn’t playing it.
For those unaware, the Persona games typically follow an older high school protagonist who, for some convoluted reason, moves to a new town without their parents. While the games also have fantasy elements of gaining Personas to battle with, solving mysteries, and ultimately saving the world, it also consists of spending in-game time with the characters. While spending time with these characters, you learn more about them and help them solve personal problems that someone in the real world might face, like self-esteem issues, family drama, or even making important life decisions.
But you also have things you need to do. Namely, you need to actually play the game and fight monsters, clear dungeons, grind, and solve the mystery, and these things all take time. On top of that, you need to get jobs to help earn money for more weapons and accessories, as well as study so you can do better on your school assignments. There is so much to do, in fact, that if you want to accomplish everything, you’ll need to use complex guides found online that explain exactly how to spend your time down to the day, and even then it may take you two full playthroughs to fit everything in.
As I played Persona 4, I developed a habit of when and how to spend time with the different characters. I realized I liked certain characters more than others, and would always choose to spend time with them instead of someone else I cared less about, even if doing so would be the “optimal” decision. I eventually began to enjoy the personal side stories of these characters just as much as the overarching story about murders, god-like deities, and magic.
And then I beat the game. As I watched the credits roll, I began to get strangely emotional. I had been playing this game for the last month and a half, and felt like I had gotten to know these characters personally. The credits ended, the game went back to the title screen, and I turned off my PlayStation 2 and ordered Persona 3 FES online.
By the time I finished Persona 3 FES, my senior year had ended and I entered my last summer at home. I was leaving for college in August, and was gearing up to say goodbye to most of my friends from my childhood.
My mindset of time management had completely changed. I began prioritizing spending quality time with these friends rather than just being in the same room together because it was convenient. As we were all entering adulthood, our conversation topics changed from what teachers we hated to what programs we were interested in for college. Instead of playing video games for hours on end, we’d grab a booth at Wendy’s and talk from lunch until dinner.
On top of this, I also still had a job. In Persona games, the jobs you choose to take can often lead to meeting new characters to help you in your journey, or can unlock important side missions. At my job, I started making an effort to get to know my coworkers as actual people, talking about our plans for the future and personal interests. I even found myself eventually spending time outside of work with these co-workers who would become, dare I say it, my friends.
As summer came to a close and I moved away from home to college, I was by myself in a different state, meeting a ton of new people my age. While I unfortunately did not gain powers and awaken my own Persona, I felt like I was playing a new Persona game in real life. When I would make a new friend, I made an effort to get to spend quality time with them, as opposed to waiting until it was convenient.
One example of this was when I was struggling with a calculus class. The teacher was older, and a little too smart for me to fully understand what he was talking about. One day, after a different class, I overheard two other students talking about that same teacher and how calculus was super difficult. I joined the conversation, learned their names, and did some basic introductions before heading home. A few days later, I saw one of them eating alone in a crowded food court and asked if I could join. He and I would go on to become roommates, attend each other’s weddings, and still stay in touch nearly a decade later.
Now, I’m working full-time and married with a kid. I don’t have a ton of opportunities to meet people or spend time with the friends I would hang out with before my life got super chaotic. However, Persona 5 Royal went on sale a few months ago for Switch, and I bought it and immediately got sucked in, just like with Persona 4 back when I was in high school. And with that has come the life lesson I learned.
These last few months, I’ve been eating lunch with my co-workers rather than working through lunch. I’ve made time to call old friends for the sole purpose of catching up. My interpersonal relationships all seem to have improved despite my busy schedule.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have had a hard time coming out of our shells and meeting new people. Some of us may have moved and not had a chance to meet our neighbors. Maybe you’ve started a new job and wouldn’t mind getting to know a new coworker or two. We’re all in a completely new place than we were nearly four years ago, so why not branch out and unlock those Social Links.
I want to invite you to give the Persona series a shot, and see what you learn from the experience. I just finished Persona 5 Royal, and saying goodbye to these characters I’ve been spending over one hundred hours with over the last four months was such a surreal experience.
I think Persona 4 Golden is a great place to start if you haven’t. It’s fairly cheap on most platforms, such as Steam and Nintendo Switch eShop, and is much shorter than Persona 5 Royal, which clocks in at around 110-120 hours on a first playthrough. By playing the Persona series, I realized the importance of friends and family, and those personal relationships now feel like they have a more solid foundation. I want to invite you to see for yourself if this helps you like it helped me.
And if not, at least you got to play one of my favorite games of all time.
Brad Melville is a copy editor and writer for Boss Rush Network. Brad is a huge fan of video games, and loves relaxing with some TV or a nice movie when he can. Some of his favorite video games are Banjo-Kazooie, Pokémon, and the Persona series. You can follow him on Twitter, where he’s probably ranting about superheroes, complaining about tv shows, or spitting hot takes about Nintendo.
The Boss Rush Podcast: The Flagship Podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network
The Boss Rush Podcast – The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, Stephanie, LeRon, and their friends from around the internet come together with other creators, developers, and industry veterans to talk about games they’ve been playing, discuss video game and entertainment based topics, and answer questions solicited on social media and the community Discord.
New episodes of the Boss Rush Podcast release every Monday morning on YouTube and all major podcast applications like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Patreon supporters gain one week early access.
Listen on your favorite podcast application or watch on YouTube!
Anchor | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Twitch | Overcast | Pocket Casts | Stitcher | Amazon Music
Follow The Boss Rush Podcast on Social Media:
Twitter | Discord | Instagram | Twitch | YouTube | Facebook Group | Facebook
Featured Image: Atlus