Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Xenogears analysis Part Two: The psychology of Fei Fong Wong.

Let it be known right now that I am in NO way, shape or form a Psychologist, and that the Psychological theories of Freud, Jung, and what have you make very little sense to me outside of their broader strokes. However, I do acknowledge that these things exist and that they can provide great insight into human behavior. When applied to video games characters, these theories can provide much richer characters...or incredibly cool concepts. In the case of Xenogears, it does a bit of both.
Today, we will be talking about the main character of the game, and how he is a representation of the Freud's theory of repression, the Ego, Super Ego and the ID.  Oh, and just like last time we talked about this game guys I'm not going to be providing a step by step retelling of the game's plot. If you wish to know the low down on that, watch these two videos:

All caught up? Good. Let's go.
Fei is an interesting character, to say the least. I'm not real sure what to make of him half the time. But the one thing he is not is simple. What do I mean? Well, just like any form of entertainment, JRPG protagonist have their own little archetypes that they can fit nicely into. Fei is an anomaly in that regard. On the one hand, he does fit into the "Man with a mysterious past" archetype made popular by Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife, but on the other hand he...doesn't fit that mold at all. Yes. he has a mysterious past that he can't remember, but unlike Cloud who blocked out his own past and took on the life of his friend/hero Zack, to make himself look cooler (And yes I know there is more to it than that, but I'm simplifying to make a point), the reason Fei has blocked out his own past is far more disturbing and a lot more realistic. The key word here for both of these characters is "Blocked." Normally, when someone blocks a past event from the conscious mind, they stuff it into the unconscious mind, where it never goes away but it's allowed to fester, like an infected wound. Usually, these repressed memories are caused by some form of mental, physical or emotional trauma, like the victim of child abuse repressing the memories. This is actually the case with Fei.
Yes, Fei was abused as a child, but not in the way you would expect. This part of the story is long and complicated, but the short of it is that his mother was possessed by another character, Miang  (whom we will talk about another time), and she subjected him to horrific scientific experiments. Eventually, as stated in the videos, the pain of these experiments became too much and he began to develop another persona to deal with the trauma. A darker, evil persona that began to want only to destroy. This Persona would later be given the name of "Id"

the Id personality would take over whenever anything bad would happen to Fei. This is one of the things that separates Fei from other RPG (and other video game characters in general I suppose) protagonists, in that he is one of the frew to actually have multiple personalities. Three of them in fact. And this is where Freud's theory of the Ego, Super ego and the Id comes into play. To understand this we have to look at Fei's three personalities. Which are referred to in game as:
Fei, Id and the Coward.

1. Id.
2. The Coward (Fei's original personality).
3. and the artificial persona known as 'Fei' (the one we come to know throughout the majority of the game).

Id, like his Freudian counterpart, is unchecked aggression and rage, he represents the unconscious part of Fei's mind. That much is obvious, but what about the other two? Well, the Coward would be the Ego. He's the rational and peaceful side of Fei's mind, Id hates the Coward because he keeps all the happy memories of childhood to himself. So this leaves the artificial persona of Fei as the Super Ego, which acts as the mediator between the two. Although in the game this is done completely unconsciously, as Fei experience memory loss when the Id personality is in control, that is until toward the end of the game where his three personalities are fused back into one.  

There is a lot more to Fei's character that I'm not going to cover here because then we'd be here all night (I.e.: the depression he feels throughout the game, the past lives ect), but what I have outlined alone is enough to show why he's such a great character. He's psychologically possible, and in that sense, he's completely relatable as a character. And a type of character that I wish would show up more in games.

And that's all out of me for now. See you all next week Dear Readers.  

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