Persona 6 Should Explore The World Of Influencers
We don’t yet know the Persona 6 release date – in fact, we don’t even know if Persona 6 is in development. Persona 5 Strikers seemed like the perfect conclusion to the Persona 5 storyline with Joker, Ryuji, Ann, Makoto, and the rest of the gang, but honestly, who even knows with the Persona series. There could be another Persona 5 adventure out there yet, pushing Persona 6 further and further back. I have no idea where Persona 6 is currently at, but whenever it rolls around, it should explore the world of influencers.
Influencers are quite a polarising topic, but if you ask me, this makes perfect sense. Persona 4 uses televisions to shape our journey into the world beyond the basic reality the characters live in, while Persona 5 uses mobile phones. Persona 4 launched in 2008, while Persona 5 came out in 2016, and in those years, there was a shift in the way we consume media. Yes, the internet at large was probably more dominant than television by 2008 – that’s why we were all Time’s Person of the Year in 2006 – but certainly, between 2008 and 2016 our consumption moved beyond passive watching into active participation, hence why the move from television screens to mobile phones made sense.
Persona 5 avoided the ‘phone zombies’ idea, instead understanding that heavy use of mobile phones is a key part of life these days, especially for inner city teenagers. Phones are the number one way kids Joker et al’s age get their information and interact with the world, which makes them the perfect window into the Metaverse. It wasn’t really until you talk to Ichinose at the end of Strikers that the idea of a phone becomes anything more than a convenient window either – it just makes far more sense for teenagers in 2016 to constantly have access to their phone rather than a television or a book or any other object. A phone is the one thing teenagers like Joker are pretty much guaranteed to have on them constantly, and whenever Joker checks his phone while he’s in bed, it’s a very normal action that all of us – especially those of Joker’s age – can relate to.
Since 2016, the way we consume information has evolved again. We still typically use our phones, but rather than just straightforward news sources or places like Twitter and Facebook that collect these sources, everything is far more personal. The internet is a very parasocial place right now, where impressionable people forge connections with Ninja or Pokimane or Shroud, watching them for hours on end and feeling like they know them. Different streamers set their own limits on what they do and do not share, and through the Twitch fart meta we’ve seen some try and capitalise on the parasocial connection and pseudo intimacy influencers have. We see this away from Twitch too, whether it’s YouTubers convincing you that they are the only legit source of news (even while the majority of their videos include reading out news from other places) or Instagram models using #ad to try to sell you weight loss pills that are really just fancy laxatives. Strikers briefly touched on this with Alice Hiiragi, although Persona 6 needs to go much harder if it wants to do the idea justice.
We’ve always admired celebrities, making them into legends and icons and gods, but it’s only recently that we’ve started to make them our friends. If Persona is going to continue on the path of examining the way we consume our information, influencers are a key part of this.
I’m not entirely sure how this would work in practise. I don’t think a dream team of different influencers, where one is a knock off Tfue ranting at a video game and another is a Nikita Dragun wannabe with nails and makeup and secret emojis of the day. Influencers are loaded with personality – some would say too much personality – and so collecting a bunch of them together might be too far, but they’re a core part of the modern world right now, especially for pop culture savvy teenagers. It’s right there in the name: influencers. Their job, one way or another, is to influence people, and many of them create content for younger, more impressionable audiences. That’s not inherently bad and doesn’t make them a shill by default, but it does make them worthy of introspection. Gaming is one of the busiest marketplaces for influencers, most of whom range from independent journalists to hype men to reactionary chuds. Games themselves are directly marketed to influencers a lot of the time, but they only ever include them in the game if it’s a cameo appearance like in Cyberpunk 2077. Persona 6 could zoom in on influencers and change that.
Maybe P6 would keep the phone schtick from P5, but would shift it very specifically to an app like Twitch or TikTok, or maybe the characters that uphold the mythos – like Morgana and Igor – could take the shape of influencers while leaving the main cast to be regular kids. Again, I’m not entirely sure what it looks like, but influencers feel like the only natural progression.
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