The following column was originally printed in the Seguin Gazette as "Political corruption and video games" on February 16, 2018. This particular column came to mind while playing Persona 5 Royal (the expanded version of the game mentioned in this column).
With this year being an election year, I wanted to bring up the story of a role-playing video game I played last year that made me, in a way, rather happy to see something as dark and realistic as political corruption within its story. The video game that I am speaking of is Persona 5. Persona 5 was the long awaited installment of the Persona series (which itself is a spinoff of the highly acclaimed Megami Tensei series by the video game company, Atlus), and when it was released in Japan back in September 2016 (later released in April 2017 worldwide), it became a highly successful game, even getting awards for Best RPG from the PlayStation Awards in Japan and IGN’s Best of 2017, and just like a few of the previous games before it, it will receive its own anime adaptation. The story is based around the teenage protagonist of the game serving his probation after being falsely accused and arrested for assault after defending a woman from being abused by a drunk man. After he becomes friends with several other teenagers and a cat from another realm known as the Shadow World, they team up together to become the Phantom Thieves, who aim to change the hearts of criminals within Tokyo. Even though I try my best not to spoil the story, but for the topic of this piece, I will make an exception. When the player gets further into the story, they find out that many of the individuals whom they were successful to change their hearts are all a part of one big political conspiracy: to help a power hungry politician named Masayoshi Shido get elected as prime minister. Shido, who is revealed as the drunk man that falsely accused the main character for assault and bribed both the woman that he saved and the police officers nearby to arrest him, has a political stronghold on not just other corrupt individuals, but with the police and even the local school to which the main character goes to while he is under probation. With Persona 5 being a video game based on changing the hearts of the corrupted by stealing the heart’s treasure, things turn out good at the end for the protagonist, and Shido eventually pays for his crimes. However, in reality, political corruption as bad as what Shido does in Persona 5 does still happen in today’s time. Either by crooked, bought-out elections or even bribery that goes close to home, political corruption for power is both a terrifying and immoral practice that is done by those who believes in taking power for granted. Yes, those who have been caught doing such actions have paid for their crimes, but there are those who have only just gotten a slap on the wrist or those who witnessed such crimes only turned the other cheek or fabricated their story while those who perpetrated such crimes are running around free when they ought to be in a prison cell. Instead of defending those who have used some sort of political corruption to guarantee them power in a political office, we need to make sure such criminals don’t get their way, and have those who got away with it pay for their crimes, especially those who have changed and created laws that takes away the liberties that are guaranteed to the people under the Constitution. This way, we will make sure we have people in office who are willing to protect our liberties without the interference of corrupt, power-hungry individuals within our government who try to say different.