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Decade Memoir #2: Lucas Rivarola - Persona 4 Golden

I know it’s a completely normal thing to start thinking about life and about the past during special moments like the end of a year or rather in this case, the end of the decade. Sometimes, I think I do it a lot. I guess it’s only natural, considering how stacked this particular December is. 

My birthday was in early December and the end of the year is closing in to send off the 2010’s. This also marks the end of my first decade as a somewhat functional adult, so I can’t help but think about the things in life that got me to where I am today. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much of an impact Persona 4 Golden had in my life.

See, 2013 was quite an eventful year for me. It was my first full year as a college student. I broke up with my girlfriend after almost three years of an unhealthy relationship. My grandma passed away and so did one of my pets that had been with me for as long as I can remember. I started making my own money by helping out my uncle at his store. It was also the first time I had the power to vote. I met a lot of new people and made a ton of new friends. I started using Twitter. 

Due to getting a PS3 the year before, I also got interested in reading about video games. It was the year that cemented the fact that, actually, I’m kinda good at dealing with English even though it’s not my native language. I turned 20 that December, a milestone number. Sure, the rest of the decade had a lot going on, but that year was indeed very tumultuous.

Near the end of 2013, I started expressing my desire to get a PS Vita because thanks to Playstation Plus, I already had quite the library for a device I didn’t own yet and more importantly, I was interested in this little game called Persona 4 Golden. 

I had played Catherine earlier that year and enjoyed my time with it a lot. I consider it the first game I truly played and understood from P Studio. In truth, I actually did play a Persona game several years prior with Persona 3, but that was back when I didn’t properly understand English and it was only for a couple of hours during the middle of the game at a friend’s house. Most of my memories about that game were a blur, but people who loved Catherine said lots of good things about P4G so I wanted to play it.

My friends organized my first and only somewhat-surprise birthday party that year (as in, we got together after my birthday, but I didn’t expect them to have cake, presents and stuff for me) and they all got me the last bit of money I needed to buy a Vita. At Christmas, I finally got the handheld I wanted so much and immediately bought the game I was dying to play.

Sure enough, P4G was everything I wanted and more. After Catherine gave me a lot to think about in terms of relationships - despite how flawed I later realized that game turned out to be, P4G came into my life screaming “Face yourself!” to bookend such an intense year.

I feel like in 2019, it’s redundant to talk about P4G as a videogame. There’s a very good chance anyone reading this already knows about Persona 4, considering just how much Atlus has pushed the game during this past decade. But back then, when I was trying to parse just what the hell did 2013 meant for me, this game about its characters quite literally facing distorted versions of themselves was enough to get me to think about so many things that I had to take a break from social media to simply just ask myself a lot of questions. 

Who am I really? Am I someone who enjoys being alone, just like I was during my relationship when I barely had any friends? Or do I enjoy being surrounded by people who care about me? Is it a mix of both? What does it mean for me to love and to feel loved? 

I still ask myself these questions every now and then - and the answers can change with time because people change too, but it was this game that first made me deeply contemplate all of this.

As it turns out, that wasn’t the only thing that P4G did for me. One of the things I tried to do in 2013 was not just read about video games, but also write about them. I started a very small blog in Spanish (that is luckily lost in the vast ocean of the internet) where I wrote things about the games I played and the soundtracks I enjoyed, since I was studying music in college at the time. After playing P4G, one of the things I realized was that I wanted to be more active in the talk about games and thus, a lot of things happened at once.

Now that I had a frame of reference, I understood what people on Twitter meant when they spoke about Giant Bomb’s Persona 4 “Endurance Run” video series, a site I still continue to enjoy today. Since I wanted to talk to more people about all of this, I ended up joining the now infamous NeoGAF forums, where I spent my time almost exclusively in the PersonaGAF threads. I made some friends there that, to this day, are still some of the people I love the most - even if I only got to meet very few of them in person.

At the same time, I got the chance to write for an Argentinian blog bigger than mine, although it was still a small website where I wrote for free. That eventually gave me enough experience to try and chase bigger things. After a lengthy break and another attempt at a personal blog, this time in English and on Medium, I tried my luck as a freelancer in 2018. Things didn’t start particularly well but as you can probably tell by reading this, I did get the opportunity to start writing about video games in bigger places. 

In fact, it has been almost a full year since I started here at RPG Site and I’m extremely thankful not only for getting the chance to do so, but also because of how fun it has been. I like to think that I probably wouldn’t be here if not for P4G.

The more I think about the decade ending, the more I’m convinced about the fact that P4G was a spark in my life in multiple ways. My feelings about the Persona series these days, especially after Persona 5, are not the same, but that’s the result of just growing up. Still, nothing will change the fact that without P4G, I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today. I met a lot of amazing people; I got the courage to do things I wanted to do for a while; I got in touch with myself in deeper ways than ever before.

Life will change. Nothing is really a constant. People will come and go from my life and who knows what might happen in 2020, let alone in the next decade as a whole. Even so, Persona 4 Golden has been, and will always be, one of the games that defined and changed my life forever. At this end of the decade, that’s something I will celebrate.

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