Had i played Persona 4 a year later, which would, coincidentally, be now, I'd only be able to reminisce about high school.
The long afternoons, sitting in a bench, burning my skin and brains with the unbearable heat. Having long walks on the beach side, going to restaurants at every opportunity, spending all available time chatting it up with the best people available at the time. The rainy runs to the bus stop, the wet hair, clothes, shoes, socks, feet, hands, the whole nightmare. The late, if at all, studying in the library, while trying every excuse to go read some other book, magazine, or simply hear some music while watching the new kids smoking just outside the front gates.
Perhaps i was unable to understand, or even notice, how much pure happiness the game exhaled while i myself was full off it. The atmosphere, the characters, the city, all the conflicts presented to the player, the whole game was a love letter to high school times. I now understand that that is certainly what draws me most to the game. But darker times revealed themselves, and thankfully the game was also there for me. I had gained a new appreciation for games that make us happy.
And such is the best thing entertainment can provide, happiness.
It certainly was a strange realization. I had played many "happy games" before. How come had i never realized their true intentions? Various Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Final Fantasy IX, perhaps even X and XII.
But wait... there are much more. An enormous percentage of all my previously played games had happy characters, happy worlds. Most recently, Heavy Rain provided a stark contrast to the norm, providing only a scene that could be considered, for all intents, designed to involve me in an happy environment.
How much of me had been defined by these games, or rather, how had my choices been influenced by who i was, or even, who i wanted to be? I don't have enough memories of my life to say with any certainty that i was a happy person. I suppose so, as i am one now, and I'm sure i didn't become like this in a heartbeat. I also don't remember playing those games, i haven't the faintest memory of what i felt when i received my first cow in Harvest Moon, even if certainly imaginable.
Had i became the games i played, or played the games that were me?
If i look at me now, i look towards entertainment when searching for new feelings and sensations, an advantage imaginary worlds seem to have over the real one, which rarely draws any emotion from me. I didn't buy Heavy Rain because it was a happy game, rather the contrary. I was aware it wasn't going to be a nice ride. It wasn't, therefore i was satisfied with the game. I'd like to talk some more about it, but that's for another time.
Most importantly, i deducted that, as many developers now seem to be aware, David Cage included, being happy isn't really the only worthy promise a game can make us. Interestingly, other ranges may be even more appealing. Unfortunately, i can't know if this is something I've been aware of before, or if only recently. But even so, even without an answer, the question itself is interesting enough that it may provide help to me now.
Whenever i play Persona 4 again, I'll be able to know what makes my insides tickle when i play it.
When i revisit older games I'll be able to understand better what defines the game, besides it's mechanical design, which some people scream and cry that it should be the only aspiring value of games. From that line of though, the phrase "games can only desire to be fun, nothing else" was born, and a lot of damage done to the whole medium. I wonder if anyone else valued their games for being happy games. If they ever go back to them, wondering and desiring why such happiness is rarely found anywhere else.
We are experiencing a turning point in our lives. Enthusiasts of the medium will be born and will die, conflicted with change, and the many dark forces that wish to decide for themselves the destiny of our games. There is a stark misunderstanding of the medium within it's fans, one which i suspect is the greatest gap stopping us from moving forward.
We must teach kids what I've taken eighteen years to find out. We must know what we are playing. Why is it that i must find some obscure interview to understand what the developers meant with each set piece, which values they explore? Why can't the games themselves be the carriers of such information? I wish i knew that games can make us happy, sad, scared, relieved, when i was 10 years old. God, what joys would i have had with new understanding the such experiences.