I’m playing this wacky PS2 game right now, and there are interesting things to say about it. What I want to focus on right now, though, is the teen suicide angle.
Persona 3 is (mechanically) a fairly typical JRPG, where your party delves the dungeon, fights the monsters, and loots the treasures. Your motley crew can use swords and bows, or they can cast spells of various types. However, to cast a spell in THIS game, the characters have to shoot themselves in the head. EVERY time they cast a spell.
This "gun" doesn’t actually…
hurt them; the act releases the "persona" (a magical manifestation of the subconscious) so it can zap the enemy.
But it’s still a gun.
It looks just like a gun.
It goes bang.
The head snaps back and magical particles spray from the head exactly as brain matter would, if it were "real".
And the characters are (especially in the beginning) afraid to pull the trigger.
And the game takes place in a high school, so all the characters are teenagers.
All of which leads me, and a FEW others ( http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/08/06/ ) to ask, "What the hell?!?"
I’ve perused the online forums and reviews, and no one seems to be making a big deal out of this. The general consensus is that the guns are real guns shooting blanks, and that the combination of fear, determination, and focus that you must have to blow your brains out is EXACTLY the kind of stress the character needs to manifest the magic. Well, that’s okay then. 🙁
My wife is so icked out by this whole thing, she doesn’t even want me to discuss it with her. I myself know that this game is not the kind of game my young relatives would want to play, but I know of young people who would. Would this game make them kill themselves? No, surely not. And yet, it’s still not a game I would want kids to play, but I’m just a big ‘ol prude.
Still, I want to know Why? I’m not too far into the game, and right now I want to keep playing only to see the story answer the big mysteries of the game. Whether it will answer the mystery of the teen suicide gun-to-head thing, I don’t know.