Everyone has been talking about how The Walking Dead has made them cry and how it really gets you to empathize with the characters and all that. I haven't played it and probably won't because I'm not a big fan of zombies and I get emotionally attached to POKEMON, so I don't think I'm the type fit to make the kinds of tough decisions that are in The Walking Dead. With all this talk of games that actually try to get that kind of reaction out of the player, I never expected Persona 4 Arena, a game about crazy anime teenagers beating on each other with supernatural beings that embody their inner strength, all the while spouting flimsy anime "feel-good" nonsense, to make me freakin' cry.
First, before I detail what exactly it was I connected with, I want to discuss Persona 4. We have learned already that this game, story, characters, etc. is surprising, in that it makes you really connect to the characters despite its appearance and sometimes stereotypical dialogue. I mean, Nanako is everybody's little sister now, right? But it hardly ever made somebody cry, right?
I rented this game from GameFly last month because I liked Persona 4 and enjoy fighting games so why not? Up until a few days ago I was going through every single story mode and getting the cliffhanger endings, before proceeding to Labrys' story. When I played her story, I was surprised. I had noticed it earlier during Aigis' story; a single sentence that caught my attention. It was something along the lines of "You wish you could go back before you had become aware. When you were just a robot." Something like that...
Anyway, I was playing through Labrys story and realized something; This is incredibly similar to my experiences of growing up with Asperger's. Not the part about killing all her friends against her will, but the part that detailed her developing a heart. Her struggling to understand the emotions of others as well as her own and how to express them. The distance that was created between her and the other, not-as-developed robots, which is similar to the divide between people with Asperger's and people lower on the Autistic spectrum. Learning that there isn't always a logical reasoning behind doing something but still looking at things in an analytical way. All these similarities kept popping up and it just had such a strong effect on me. It was just so surprising in so many ways that such an apt metaphor for my life could appear in a fighting game; And I bet it wasn't even intended to be that way.
Having to cut this short because I'm have to be somewhere, but I feel I should sum it up. Labrys is a great metaphor for people with Asperger's. Beginning as a somewhat robotic individual, only understanding logical things and not understanding emotions or other people. Growing and becoming more aware of how she affects others and how others have an effect on her, and learning how to change what she does to account for the well-being of others, so basically understanding empathy. Even to the part where she feels like she's far too different from everyone around her to ever possibly be understood or accepted by anyone. And finally, reaching the point where, even though she's still a little quirky, she's capable of expressing herself to people in a way that others can understand her.
I cried because I was so happy; I felt like I was being understood so greatly, and that I'd found a way to be able to easily explain to people what it's like. I can finally be understood.