Review: Exploring Emotional & Mental Depths in ‘The Psychology of Zelda’

The Psychology of Zelda: Linking Our World to the Legend of Zelda Series is an in-depth guide to the series, detailing the many psychological aspects of the narratives, character arcs, and the decades-long dedication players have to Link and his world. It’s an incredibly insightful book that acts not only as a review of the games, but as a primer for a number of basic and complex psychological concepts.

The essays are well-written and heavily researched. You’ll learn about how players project themselves into their favorite video games. How grief plays out in Link’s journey in Majora’s Mask. These ten essays are exciting to read and compelling. Expect to deepen your understanding of the games and to potentially become a bigger fan.

As the most obvious disclaimer ever written, this book would be best enjoyed by those who have a passion for the games and want to understand them on a deeper level. Admittedly, I haven’t played the games, so the fact that I was able to enjoy and learn a ton from this collection is a testament to the writers and the material.

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

Insights Into A Couple of Essays

Embodying the Virtual Hero: A Link to the Self
By Jonathan Erickson

Erickson examines a player’s ability to project onto Link, inhabiting him and living through experiences they might not get in real life. The essay is a fascinating lesson in the psychological concept of projection and how we relate to others. In essence, this describes all video games. We play to become someone else entirely, to learn new skills and see what it’s like to fight, win, and collect the treasure. 

Unmasking Grief: Applying the Kubler-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

The authors break down Majora’s Mask piece by piece, presenting an extremely compelling argument for Link processing the passing of Navi through the missions and regions he works through. It’s a fascinating analysis, giving an in-depth explanation of the Kubler-Ross stages and how they come to life in the game. This essay can definitely be tied to Erickson’s, in my opinion. Do some players use Zelda to process grief from their own lives? Does this progression built into the game help some players experience what they’ve denied themselves? So many questions arise from the book.

The Psychology of Zelda: Linking Our World to the Legend of Zelda Series

Ed. Anthony M. Bean, PhD
Smart Pop


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Author: Jacob A. Olson

Writing about science fiction and fantasy at ReviewsandRobots.com! I write reviews on novels, short stories, television, movies, etc. and throw in a few articles and thoughts as well.

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