Everything Wrong With Persona 5 – so far…

The amount of Gladio hate just builds and it makes my life. Though explaining to white male gamers that psychological conditions are not a sign of weakness of character is an uphill battle, the discovery that the stairs in Altissia have white lines painted on the edges (an aid for people with low vision, so they know where the steps are!) makes my argument that certain other low vision accoutrements aren’t up to scratch a tiny bit more grounded, and I’m happy in my spot on the Descartes graph.

 

But while I can still go on about FFXV (I got the Afrosword before my brother, and I acquired the Black Hood without using a glitch, unlike my brother, so I am very happy), I just went back to Persona 5 after taking a break after being spoiled and having some ragey moments.

 

I don’t have a good history with Persona, and quite frankly this one is more upsetting than the last. Persona 4 Golden was generally upsetting due to its weird fixation on a flawed perception of sexuality and stereotypes, but certain aspects of Persona 5 are quite personally upsetting.

Spoilers below the jump:

I’m currently in the Palace of the guy who thinks his workers are robots. The whole mistreatment of workers as a reason for people to be considered unjust is both cathartic (see, I was right! Having to work five hours overtime a day is bad!) and upsetting (because the game says I’m a robot). It’s not exclusive to this Palace; there’s people in Shibuya who talk about it, and some of the jobs you have to do make your pay dependent on how well you do (which is RNG, no less) and one of them is explicitly said to be a bad workplace and Mona-chan asks how you did it all by yourself…

I get flashbacks, and I’m struggling through it until either Starfire is released for Injustice 2, or FFXII comes out. (Also, Episode Prompto! I love Prompto, just not his design. He looked better before.)

 

But the thing that was even more hurtful for me was the treatment of Futaba when she was introduced. In the grand tradition of hikikomori, she lives in her room on her computer. This is because she’s distressed over the death of her mother (plot-relevant, even), and withdraws as at the time she was made to believe it was her fault, and her guardian let her go as he couldn’t draw her out. Naturally, because the protagonist is super special, and because plot, this ends.

Cue the group, forcing this person who’s lived in her room for years, has traits that indicate her being somewhere on the spectrum, to go through a week of “being taught to fit in”. In a week.

Firstly, Futaba doesn’t talk much. She’s more comfortable typing, but she understands language just fine. Instead of this being okay, she has to go on a series of dates with the party, until it’s discovered that she can hold a conversation just fine as long as it’s something that’s interesting to her, like, say, computers.

The whole plot doesn’t require much in the way of travel – most of it takes place in dungeons in a parallel dimension. It follows, then, that forcing Futaba to learn to leave the house, forcing her to wear a bikini, etc. etc., shouldn’t be necessary for her to fill her role, but apparently we must also make her used to people! Again, in a week! She isn’t allowed to have a mask, a thing which comforts her enough to make her more able to do this – instead, she’s mocked for it, and forced to take it off.

This ends up with her being cornered by the police and threatened with being taken into custody until you turn up, claim her as your sister, and then tell her off for going out by herself. Because, you know, your party of popular, smart, pretty people insisted on making her ‘fit in’ (despite the existence of Yusuke!) and she tried to please you at great emotional cost to her. It then becomes her confidant arc.

Because, you know, everyone has to be a certain way to fit in.

“Maybe she can go back to school!” She’s a world class hacker. Let her test out!

“But we need her to get information!” Which she does perfectly well, online, while you wait.

She doesn’t need to ‘fit in’ to be part of the party. It’s just a way for the game to fill in a week while boosting your affection with your party and your guardian (also her guardian). She doesn’t need to change to be part of the group. (There’s an option for you to say this; it gets you told off, and the story proceeds as if you hadn’t said it. You don’t even get affection points for Futaba, because her confidant link hasn’t opened up yet.) The party is the one forcing her to do that.

Top it off with your guardian being pretty lax about it – and then asking you to continue.

 

I’m not yet really able to articulate the absolute rage for all this and pin it down and make it about anything more than ‘forced socialisation’ and ‘really not a good look’. I mean, someone forcing me to go through absolute hell like that and telling me it’s good for me? Results in a period of disassociation and then a messy breakdown. Futaba sleeps for up to a month after her first in-person interactions with the party, and her guardian says that’s totally normal for her. Some people are just introverted and need to recover and that’s okay.

What’s not okay is cleaning their room without their permission. (She is shocked.)

What’s not okay is dragging them to places and events they’re clearly not comfortable with, and strongly implying that doing so is the only way you’ll approve of them.

… Especially when you know they may not have the ability to say no, or feel confident doing so, or you routinely override them.

… Especially when the people instigating this are in positions of power, social or otherwise (school president? famous model? older foster brother?).

 

It hurt me to see someone like me treated like that, and now it’s there in my mind as I play. ‘They only want her for what she can do.’ ‘They don’t accept her as she is.’

 

And were completely ignorant of how putting so much effort into her (entirely unnecessarily) hurt Mona-chan… if I could see it coming a mile and a half away, even before being spoiled… well…

 

It shouldn’t be too much to ask to expect games to treat things sensitively. Someone could have been actively against pushing Futaba against her will, or pointed out that she was perfectly capable of communicating already and should have been respected a bit more. There could have been the option to talk to Mona-chan instead of going to bed.

 

It’s just, not very downtime-y after my last few weeks, in which I went through a lot of these things myself. (another story, another time).

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