Publisher: Smart Pop|
Editor: Anthony Bean|
Release: February 19th 2019
I received a copy of The Psychology of Zelda through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Psychology of Zelda is a collection of essays written by psychologists fascinated with the enduring nature of our love of Zelda. Together they delve into the psychology behind the game, some with a focus on Link, others with a focus on the plots or trials that Link goes through, and yet others choosing to focus on Zelda herself.
This novel is perfect for any fan of Zelda, from the casual to the dedicated. Anybody that’s curious about how one could break down the psychology behind the game would really enjoy this read. I know I did.
There are ten essays in total in this collection. Embodying the Virtual Hero: A Link to the Self by Jonathan Erickson; It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: The Hero’s Journey in the Legend of Zelda by Stephen K. Kuniak; The Nocturne of (Personal) Shadow by Louise Grann; The Archetypal Attraction by Anthony M. Bean (who is also the editor of the collection); Unmasking Grief: Applying the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Greif Model to the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask by Larisa A. Garski, F. Cary Shepard, and Emory S. Daniel; The Protective Power of Destiny: Posttraumatic Growth in the Legend of Zelda by Larisa A. Garski and Justine Mastin; The Quest for Meaning in the Legend of Zelda by Kelsey Klatka and Louise Grann; The Song of the Ritos: The Psychology of the Music Within the Legend of Zelda Series by Shane Tilton; Triforce Heroes and Heroines: Transcending the Opposites Through the Golden Power by Angie Branham Mullins; and the Legend Herself: From Damsel in Distress to Princess of Power by Melissa Huntley and Wind Goodfriend.
The Psychology of Zelda was an absolutely fascinating read. I’ll confess that I enjoyed some of the essays significantly more than others, but that was bound to happen. Psychology is a broad enough field where everyone still has room to have their preferred theories and experts. Apparently, that holds true even when analyzing video games.
The only downside to this collection would be that there was some repetition occurring. For example, several essays kept referring back to Carl Jung and his theories. I personally would have preferred only one essay focused on each theory. Though I will say that the different essays had different focuses and arguments for the use of Jung’s theories. I have to give them credit for that.
Other philosophies included Kubler-Ross and the five stages of grief, posttraumatic stress disorder, Viktor Frankl and Logotherapy, the mere-exposure effect, and benevolent sexism from Peter Glick and Susan Fisk.
Personally, my favorite essay had to be Unmasking Grief. It was so beautifully thought out, and you can tell that the writing team behind it really knew that they were talking about when it comes to Zelda. It was one of the few essays that focused on one game for their subject, instead of doing an overview of all of them. While the latter allows for a broader understanding of the subject, the former allowed for an in-depth look at the process in which Link was going through.
The Protective Power of Destiny was a close second for my favorite essay in the collection. I feel like this one touched on some very important points that many people tend to overlook. I enjoyed the perspective.
Honestly, though, all of the essays had important things to say. It does partially depend on what your preference is, and what you’re hoping to take away from this book. I think anybody that loves Zelda will enjoy this read. You don’t need a background in psychology to enjoy it (if anything, not having one will allow you to read this with a fresh perspective).