The Psychology of Zelda, edited by Anthony Bean

This is a collection of essays focused on different psychological aspects of The Legend of Zelda series and how they relate to us in the real world. Each essay is written by experienced people in the field, be they counselors, professors, etc.

This was a fascinating look into a much-beloved series. It explores themes such as identification, feminism, grief, the hero’s journey, and so much more. As a fan of the Zelda series, these essays really helped me to see the games in a new light. One particular highlight for me:

The article, “Unmasking Grief: Applying the Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief Model to the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” by Larisa A. Garski, F. Cary Shepard, and Emory S. Daniel, was very interesting. Garski et al. argue that each of the main areas in Majora’s Mask represent one of the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The article makes it a point to note that these stages are not one-and-done and don’t always (or usually) happen in a nice, orderly fashion. Majora’s Mask is one of the darkest (if not the darkest) entries into the franchise. I hadn’t considered the connection between the five stages of grief and each area of the game before. However, the article does a convincing job of explaining it all.

However, there wasn’t a single essay I didn’t enjoy reading. For those completely new to psychology, each article does a great job of making the field accessible to a wide audience. While it’s not completely necessary to be a fan of or to have played any of the Zelda games to gain something from this collection, I would personally recommend this book more to fans of the series. All in all, this is a fantastic collection that made me want to play a Zelda game and see it with new eyes.

(I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.)

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