The definitive version of all the modern Persona games are coming to PC and Xbox. Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal will be coming to both systems (Golden’s already been on PC for a bit), and that’s really exciting, because it’s going to let a huge audience experience some of the best JRPGs of the past decade and a half. But for long-time fans, one of the most alluring things is that the PC versions will be more mod friendly, and capable of things Atlus never had the courage to do: like making it possible to be gay and date the men instead of just the women.
Persona has always had a weird relationship with queerness. And by weird, I mean extremely shitty. Queer characters only ever appear to be the butt of jokes, even if it’s completely antithetical to its larger ethos of standing up for people oppressed by the system or accepting parts of yourself you were once ashamed of. Despite that, there’s a lot of romantic tension to its various social routes, even with other men. To the point where I’ve simply convinced myself that my characters’ guy friends are just real stupid and don’t realize I’m hitting on them throughout their story. Joker and Ryuji are already dating in Persona 5, as far as I’m concerned. But now that all the games are coming to PC, it would be a great opportunity for the community to take the step Atlus has refused to over the years.
The romantic arcs in Persona games are often almost identical to the friendship path, so it would mainly just be a matter of tweaking some written dialogue and flags to let characters appear in certain scenes to solidify the relationship. So relative to games with more elaborate animation and voiced dialogue, modding gay relationships into Persona games would be a light lift. And really, it’s hardly game breaking when so many of those romantic relationships would feel like natural extensions of Persona’s social elements already.
For Persona 3 Portable especially, these romantic arcs already exist in the game. It’s the only entry in the franchise that lets you choose to play as a female protagonist, and she has the option to date most of the men in the game anyway. So modders, if you were to just make Akihiko Sanada’s romance available when I’m playing as a male character, you’d let me fully realize my years-long dream of dating my favorite character in Persona 3. Hell, even open it up to let me flirt with Junpei Iori before he finds true love in Chidori in the second half of the game. I’m down to date as a gay man, and down to have my heart broken as a gay man.
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Persona 4 Golden has been on Steam for a while, and modders have already unearthed unused assets that were part of a scrapped gay romance with Yosuke Hanamura. So a lot of that work has already been done. But what about a mod that lets Kanji Tatsumi live his truest gay self like the thematically appropriate conclusion to his arc? The entire basis of his development is in struggling with his identity, which manifests in a shadow version of himself being a gay stereotype. Which, I might add, he admits is part of him.
Really, with a game like Persona, where its social elements get so emotionally intimate, half the work is already done. So this is me, a gay Persona fan, asking the queer and ally modding community to help these characters all live their authentic selves, because it’s about time for all these guys to just kiss already.
Update: Atlus has confirmed these ports will also be available on PS5 and Steam.