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Depression Quest
February 14, 2013 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game about living with depression. Pay what you want, or play for free. A portion of the proceeds go to http://iFred.org. Here's a rather perfect trailer for the game.

(Fair warning: this game is not meant to be a fun or lighthearted experience, and may be triggering for those suffering from depression. By all accounts it's pretty intense.)
posted by naju (60 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
Another, similar game, Actual Sunlight, has been getting attention recently as well. I haven't gotten around to playing it yet (and don't know if I will), but it's supposed to be intense.
posted by dortmunder at 10:29 AM on February 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ok played and went through the whole thing. It honestly isn't that different from my life and yea I have long-term depression/dysthimia. Been through numerous therapists until now I'm so burned out on them and hearing myself talk that I don't go. Nothing can change until you change it. So since I don't.... On meds and that helps for the physical symptoms so there you go. Rely on one friend since she and I are in the same boat. But beyond that, the game wasn't very realistic in the choices. It locked me into the choices and what bugged me was "Alex" breaking up with me because I'm disconnected. If he/she is that superficial, then whatever. Good relationships, people stay in good or bad longer than that display has showed so for me, that part was annoying.

I don't know. I give it an A for sentiment but other than that, I really don't see the point.

Ironic response, I'm sure. :)
posted by stormpooper at 10:32 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man a depression simulator sounds exactly like something that I do not ever, ever want to try out. I have enough of that in real life, thanks.
posted by Scientist at 10:32 AM on February 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Mefite Speicus did the soundtrack, just so y'all know.
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 AM on February 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


In my brain, any game with "Quest" in the title = Sierra Games, which makes me think of all the ways Cory and Lori Ann Cole thwarted my choices.

clicks Get some sunlight and exercise

A greyish blanket descends over your thoughts. The thought of getting up is exhausting, and you tell yourself you'll try again later.

I started playing the actual game, but it looks like it's a fairly accurate portrayal of depression, so I had to turn it off...
posted by dubold at 10:37 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, this rings pretty damn true, up until the point where I can't go any further (me and Fuzz want to see the therapist's number, can't). Of course, it'll ring more or less true depending on your symptoms but as a means of letting others know what it can be like to suffer from depression... It's pretty good.
posted by Inner Universe at 10:37 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Still I mean I am glad it exists if it can help raise awareness of the fact that depression is not just like laziness or a bad attitude or something. Someone please tell me if there is a phase of the game that goes something like:
It is 11:38AM. You are in bed. You feel guilty about having
already wasted the entire morning, but you know that if 
you can get up and get moving you can still have a good day.

>get out of bed

Nothing happens.

>get out of bed

Nothing happens.

>get out of bed

Nothing happens. It is 12:12PM. You can feel another wasted
day slowly drifting toward the wastebin of history, and
feelings of guilt and disappointment settle into the hollow of
your stomach. The effort of trying to get up has sapped your
energy, and you feel overwhelmingly tired. You close your eyes. 
"I'll try again after a nap," you tell yourself.

posted by Scientist at 10:41 AM on February 14, 2013 [61 favorites]


Ah, dubold already answered my question while I was typing all of that out. Wow, that does sound accurate. I am even more certain that this is a game I don't want to play.
posted by Scientist at 10:43 AM on February 14, 2013


I had to bail before I even answered the first question. For one, the annoying music that can't be turned off. And...honestly...asking a depressed individual to plow through acres of text just ain't gonna happen. My "I just don't care" buzzer went off as soon as I saw the first question.

Maybe this should only be played by happy, optimistic people?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:47 AM on February 14, 2013


Interesting, I went the path opposite of what I would do in real life and guess what? I ended up somewhat less depressed! I think everybody with depression knows the "right" choices, it's just making them that's nearly impossible.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:48 AM on February 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


the annoying music that can't be turned off

Mute.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:49 AM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


dubold already answered my question while I was typing all of that out.

actually I was just guessing what the Sierra Quest version of Depression Quest would do. The actual Depression Quest does seem to be pretty close to that, though. It looks accurate, and like you said, it probably isn't great for a seriously depressed person but might be helpful for someone who doesn't know what being depressed is like.
posted by dubold at 11:04 AM on February 14, 2013


This person is younger than me and has a significant other and enough friends that they can go out. And a living sibling. Co-workers invite them out for drinks. Old friends from school try to catch up. They receive unsolicited text messages from live human beings. A blood relative has expressed pride in their accomplishments.

Can I ... can I go ahead and just buy this life?
posted by adipocere at 11:13 AM on February 14, 2013 [44 favorites]


Worst game award!
posted by zscore at 11:24 AM on February 14, 2013


I feel you, Adi...

I feel you, man.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:26 AM on February 14, 2013


They receive unsolicited text messages from live human beings.

When I was a kid, my mother taught me not to invite myself to another person's house. I forgot that this still meant that I could invite others to my house. Instead, I waited for invitations. A few kids gave them, but their friendships didn't stick: My family moved around a lot.

Years later, when I was a senior in high school, I was working on a group project at a classmate's house. Some of his friends came by without having called ahead. He welcomed them in. They shot the shit for a while.

Only then did I realize how much I had missed.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:32 AM on February 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


This person is younger than me and has a significant other and enough friends that they can go out. And a living sibling. Co-workers invite them out for drinks. Old friends from school try to catch up. They receive unsolicited text messages from live human beings. A blood relative has expressed pride in their accomplishments.


Well, that's the thing. They have no real reasons for being depressed. But then, I'm not sure within the "disease" model that we are allowed to be depressed because life actually *is* terrible. Any more than we are allowed to go psychotic with grief.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah so ok when the guy in the depression simulator has a better social life than I do um ok

Goddamnit
posted by ook at 11:35 AM on February 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Well, that's the thing. They have no real reasons for being depressed. But then, I'm not sure within the "disease" model that we are allowed to be depressed because life actually *is* terrible. Any more than we are allowed to go psychotic with grief.

"Man, I can't believe Mike killed himself."

"No, me neither. Good job, good reputation, good family. The wake was packed."

"I can believe it."

"Yeah. The Lucases came by, too."

"How're they holding up?"

"Fine, or as fine as you can be in their situation. But Josh had nothing going for him."

"You kinda had to expect it."

"Yeah."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:39 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having suffered through depression and played through the entire game.. I found it realistic.

There's an interesting description at the bottom of most pages that tells you how depressed you are, and whenever the description got worse, I felt worse. I was very much hoping at some point the "you are not seeing a therapist" and "you are not on any anti-depression medications" would change. It didn't.

Was glad to see a little continuity between it though. At one point you're offered a kitten and I chose to take it. Later on it actually improves your depression a little if you decide to play with her.
posted by royalsong at 11:40 AM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I should get a cat...
posted by hellojed at 11:51 AM on February 14, 2013


It's hard to lie in bed all day depressed when a cat is climbing all over your face!
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:53 AM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I sent this on to my mother, who is a psychiatrist and medical school instructor, noting that I had not looked at it (a depression simulator is also not something I need at present) but saying it might be interesting/useful to med students. Her response: "yes, that interactive is well done--looked at a bit. I agree, people who are depressed already shouldn't look at it, but might be very good for students, any kind."
posted by newrambler at 12:00 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm currently overwhelmed and avoiding working on anything, so I'm probably not in the right frame of mind to be playing this (and this makes me wonder--if it's impossible to get anything out of a depression sim when you are depressed because the wall of text approach is overwhelming and the music too effective, and it's impossible to get anything out of a depression sim when you're not depressed because everything just falls flat, I... Is that a deliberate commentary on depression?). A few things though:

It's pretty accurate in a lot of ways. I particularly like the way options get crossed out as your functioning declines; you can still see them. They're still there. But they're impossible. That's something I can relate to.

I don't like "You are not currently taking medication" as a negative status. Some people can function better on medication, and that's fine when it's an informed decision, but there are serious trade offs and side effects, especially with chronic use. It is absolutely valid to deal with mental illness without medication and I can't say that loudly or often enough. Besides, psychiatry has an ugly history, authoritarian tendencies and isn't an empirical science in the same way that physics or biology are empirical sciences. We identify mental illnesses by clusters of symptoms, not anything biological, and basically have no idea how/why some drugs work beyond guessing. It's also worth remembering that, even as our guesses become more educated, a purely biological model cannot be 100% causative: human psychology is a result of complex influences from genetics, biochemistry, environment, experience, etc. Too often stuff about mental illness takes a completely biological reductive approach and it's just not nuanced or necessarily even informed enough.

/rant

The music is surprisingly effective. as is the static filter. I had trouble reading a lot of it, though--it's just too much.

Overall, I guess I'm finding this interesting but too triggering to keep doing. I would recommend Yume Nikki as a less triggering, more subtle game about (in part) depression, though. It's a different experience, and one that strangely comforts me when I'm in a low mood. It's gotten me through a lot of bad days. I find the (wonderful) music a lot warmer, too, even if it's just as effective at creating a bleak, drained mood.
posted by byanyothername at 12:02 PM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


thanks for the descriptions......gonna pass
posted by thelonius at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should get a cat...

Highly recommended. Between the Luvox and four kitties [ 1 2 3 4 ], life's pretty great sometimes.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:09 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was realistic enough that after playing to the Full Paladin ending I definitely did not want to go back to check out what happens if you don't choose the obvious way to get better (follow suggestion from friend to see a therapist, start taking meds, open up to the partner, ... )

I sincerely wish a full length game about this existed. Maybe with subquests about diet, exercise, meditation, and stacking the 5% bonuses such as life offers.

But for ultimate realism, pick your character stats from the DSM-IV and play content generated from AskMe posts! Available quests:
anxiety (287), therapy (139), Work (71), health (60), relationships (56), college (45), bipolar (43), stress (43) , family (35), medication (33) , suicide (32), adhd (31), unemployment (27), friendship (25), marriage (25), breakup (23), drugs (22), anger (21), school (20), dating (19), money (18), exercise (17), selfesteem (14), sex (14), loneliness (13), ocd (13).
posted by yoHighness at 12:23 PM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


byanyothername: "I don't like "You are not currently taking medication" as a negative status. "

It's possible to play the game without taking medication and still get to a better place emotionally at the end, if you try to do things when you can, talk honestly about what's going on with the people around you, and keep going to therapy. Which is not a bad takeaway, although it's far easier to press the right buttons on a screen than to make the right choices in real life.

I also thought the choices crossed off aspect was striking--both that some choices are closed off to you, and that others, the ability to try to do some things and to reach out, aren't always, at least when you're not too far deep...

I do wish everyone had the social connections and potential support system this person has, though.
posted by beryllium at 12:35 PM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, that's the thing. They have no real reasons for being depressed. But then, I'm not sure within the "disease" model that we are allowed to be depressed because life actually *is* terrible. Any more than we are allowed to go psychotic with grief.

Eh, I know what I'm about to say is all pretty subjective--but for me at least, "circumstantial" depression just feels different from the disease (and they can coexist, which is really shitty.) It hurts, sure. But it feels--purposeful, almost? Grief, sadness, anger, even hopelessness in response to external shittiness is necessary. It gives you an understanding of your priorities and desires, it lets you fit the outside world into an inner one, it gives you an impetus to change things what need changing. And eventually, your emotional equilibrium reasserts itself. Depression-the-disease has no purpose, and it has no end, and it has no way out (or it seems that way, at least.)

One hurts the way a healing femur hurts, one hurts the way someone repeatedly bringing down a hammer on your broken leg hurts.
posted by kagredon at 12:49 PM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I *love* this game. I remember that horrible "I'm tough, I don't need help" stage of my life, and it was just as bleak as the game makes it sound. I really like the slow progression of the game; things do get better, but it takes a while. There are obvious "better" choices, but there's no magic "erase the depression!" choice--it took time for things to get this bad, and it takes time for things to get good again.

Most of all, I loved how realistic this was. The way everything was worded, the "voice" of the depression, was dead-on. I wanted to hug the game and give it a fresh-baked cookie and tell it that I made it, and it can too. Thanks, developers. Thanks for getting it.
posted by epj at 12:50 PM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


This game fails right off the bat because it gives me a girlfriend. Start the game with 'you've havent had a relationship in 4 years and haven't been able to meet anyone at all since then' and we maybe have a more realistic game.
posted by spicynuts at 12:59 PM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


This person is younger than me and has a significant other and enough friends that they can go out. And a living sibling. Co-workers invite them out for drinks. Old friends from school try to catch up. They receive unsolicited text messages from live human beings. A blood relative has expressed pride in their accomplishments.

Can I ... can I go ahead and just buy this life?
posted by adipocere at 11:13 AM on February 14 [13 favorites +] [!]


I was trying to formulate a thoughtful and tactful response to this, but no. I'm just going to say what's actually on my mind:

I'm fucking pissed at this comment, and and I'm pissed at how many favorites it got. I'm sorry your life sucks and you don't have any friends, but the "you've got it so good, why can't you just get over it?" or "this isn't depression, let me show you what depression is!" sentiments in this thread are bullshit. You're not the only one with them, but that just makes it even worse.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:07 PM on February 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Other things of which I am envious: FirstMateKate's long-range telepathy.
posted by adipocere at 1:10 PM on February 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Put in a milder way: no one's experience of depression is any more of less "legitimate" than anyone else's. Lots of people with SOs and friends have depression that is every bit as crippling as those who don't have those things. Being envious of others' situations is perhaps understandable, but the common perception of "don't you see you have all these great things, I'd gladly have your life" is actually the sort of misunderstanding of the illness that this game is trying to fight.
posted by naju at 1:20 PM on February 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


(One of the creators sums it up nicely.)
posted by naju at 1:47 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Other things of which I am envious: FirstMateKate's long-range telepathy.
posted by adipocere at 1:10 PM on February 14 [2 favorites +] [!]


I prefer to call it reading comprehension.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2013


Can I ... can I go ahead and just buy this life?

...

ok when the guy in the depression simulator has a better social life than I do


That's the thing. Happiness does not preclude depression. It almost makes it worse. When life was shitty and I was depressed, it's understandable. When it's great and I'm still depressed? Now that's depressing.

I thought the game was realistic enough, but ...

I think everybody with depression knows the "right" choices, it's just making them that's nearly impossible.

It's just too easy to succeed, i.e. notice your hands are shaking, be willing to talk to people, visit a therapist, etc. I like how the game presented certain options then struck them out as impossible, but it needs a little more helplessness if you want to call it a "simulator" - or just call it an educational game and leave it at at that.

For example, in my game Alex invites me over for sex and I'm not interested because I'm depressed. But I know the right answer is "unwind with her and try to get interested" so I do it ... but there's no way I could do that in real life. But of course I do and then viola, all of a sudden (if I force myself to work on my "project" instead of looking for a new job), I have all this positive creative energy to make progress on my project.

Instead of stressing about work and staying focused (which I am unable to stop), you answer your online friend attic and help him out, you start to feel much better. It's just too easy to make the right decision.

Also, even when taking steps completely unrelated to the therapist, my status went from "you're seeing a therapist but you doubt anything she says will help" to "You are in therapy with a good counselor. You're doing cognitive behavior techniques and they are starting to help."

But beyond that, the game wasn't very realistic in the choices. It locked me into the choices and what bugged me was "Alex" breaking up with me because I'm disconnected. If he/she is that superficial, then whatever.

I actually think crossing off the choices was one of the game's most realistic aspects. You know that you need to tell Alex about your situation, but if you don't, she's gonna leave eventually. If you do tell her, of course she is supportive and sticks around. Again, too easy.

Ah, and I actually got the "tell alex" steps multiple times in the same story (i.e. "You don't need to. Just trust know that I do.") Continuity was generally OK, but not perfect.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:02 PM on February 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think I got the "winning" ending, fwiw:

While you know that your depression can never be "cured," you have a very strong support network in your friends and even Malcolm, and armed with a newfound confidence in your friends and family, you accept that though the road may be rocky, it is at very least not solitary.

You meet your mom's gaze from across the table and muster up a smile.

"I'm good, mom, you tell her.

She says nothing, but you can feel her smile from across the room.

posted by mrgrimm at 2:04 PM on February 14, 2013


It's hard to lie in bed all day depressed when a cat is climbing all over your face!

A conversation I had yesterday while double-teaming my dog with cuddles with a friend:
_________________________________________________

Me: I'm trying to give him tons of attention when I'm home, because I've been out and about a lot recently. I kind of miss being depressed or sick, because then we just spend twenty hours a day cuddling in bed together.

Friend: Couldn't you spend twenty hours a day in bed when you aren't sick or depressed?

Me: .......No, actually.
_________________________________________________


If my chihuahua starts secretly poisoning me, I think we all know why.
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:28 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should get a cat...

Name it Roast Beef?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:37 PM on February 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rethinking some of what I've said in this thread. I envy people with fuller lives than mine, but even if I were Wittgenstein or David Foster Wallace, I'd still feel empty. I'd probably feel even worse, if this game is anything to go by. There's nothing to envy there.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:52 PM on February 14, 2013


Both Wittgenstein and DFW, were poster boys for deperssion.

We know of the fate of David Foster Wallace,
and as for Wittgenstein, from:

http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Wittgenstein.html

'During this period at Cambridge, Wittgenstein continued to work on the foundations of mathematics and also on mathematical logic. He suffered depression, however, and threatened suicide on a number of occasions. He found Cambridge a less than ideal place to work since he felt that the academics there were merely trying to be clever in their discussions while their ideas lacked depth.'
posted by BlueMarble72 at 3:07 PM on February 14, 2013


I knew that, BlueMarble.

They were both talented men who enjoyed enormous acclaim during their lifetimes. They had all the trappings of success. Meanwhile, in their own heads, they may as well have been suffering on Catherine wheels.

To envy a depressed person's better circumstances is to forget that depression poisons all circumstances.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:21 PM on February 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I quit the game very early because I realized later than Scientist that this was about the worst idea ever for my personal brain health (and Jesus, that dolorous music). Nonetheless, I think this approach has potential, and I'd like to see a much wider palette of people you could be - young, middle-class male student with social and family support and relatively light personal responsibilities is one perspective, yes, but the variety of people who live with depression is much greater than that.
posted by gingerest at 3:53 PM on February 14, 2013


I lost, though my ending seemed to come out of nowhere and didn't reflect ANY of the trend paths I was on up to that point (Alex & I moving in together while acknowledging my depression, seeing therapist, reaching out to support network, etc). Seemed to do everything right except go on meds and opt to play with the kitten instead of calling Alex one night (before "the talk"). Seems I had some sort of panic attack after Christmas w/ Mom and my life went back to shit JUST LIKE THAT.

Thanks. Thanks fer nuttin'
posted by KingEdRa at 4:30 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hi, I did the music for this game. I have been debating with myself whether or not to comment in this thread. Perhaps ironically, it's been more difficult for me to read than the game itself.

To envy a depressed person's circumstances is... well, a perfect example of depressed ideation. So I have a lot of sympathy for that response to the game.

Maybe this is just an indicator of how poorly aesthetically calibrated I am, but when I wrote the music I didn't intend for it to be unequivocally bleak. Stark, yes. I wonder if, in another context, it would be perceived differently. (The music is based on a motet by Guillaume Dufay, and Arvo Pärt was also an inspiration.)

mrgrimm: It's just too easy to succeed, i.e. notice your hands are shaking, be willing to talk to people, visit a therapist, etc. I like how the game presented certain options then struck them out as impossible, but it needs a little more helplessness if you want to call it a "simulator" - or just call it an educational game and leave it at at that.

My experience with pre-release versions of the game mirrored this to an extent, though ultimately I had a different reaction. Seeing the disconnect between the choices I make in the game and the choices I often make in real life was almost cathartic. I think it helped me recognize the shape of my own (relatively mild) depression when it happens, and the specific irrationality of it.

I think the game rides a very difficult line. If you make the protagonist too helpless you risk leaving already depressed people no hope. If you give the protagonist too much control you risk trivializing depression. If you make the protagonist too well-off, you risk losing the reader's sympathy. If you make the protagonist's circumstances too terrible, you risk the depression seeming like a side effect of that.

gingerest: Nonetheless, I think this approach has potential, and I'd like to see a much wider palette of people you could be - young, middle-class male student with social and family support and relatively light personal responsibilities is one perspective, yes, but the variety of people who live with depression is much greater than that.

(Side note: I don't think the protagonist's gender is ever specified.)

I like the idea of another game with a wider variety of people represented, and it's sort of darkly amusing to imagine an Oregon Trail-style opening where you select your circumstances and level of depression. Maybe that game can include a scene where your character plays a game about depression, and there's an option to enjoy the game, but it's crossed out.
posted by speicus at 4:36 PM on February 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


Whoops! Right you are, speicus, I made an unconscious, heterosexist assumption based on Alex's gender (and the Pabst can, which I associate with young men). And your music was appropriate, just too much for me, especially in the context.
posted by gingerest at 5:07 PM on February 14, 2013


I don't dare actually try the game right now, but it's nice to know it exists. I'm in favor of anything that helps people understand that depression isn't just sadness (or worse, laziness.) It's just, even the thought of being able to make the right choice by simply moving a finger already has my brain off on the usual cycle of "Come on, why don't you just do that in real life? You must be lazy!" et cetera ad nauseam.

I can see why people get offended when somebody says they envy the game character. And if that envy includes the "you shouldn't be depressed because other people have it worse" idea, then I find it offensive myself. I just don't see anybody saying that here. Wishing to be in another's shoes isn't automatically the same as saying the other has a perfect life, or that the other shouldn't be depressed.

But, whatever. Whether you're envious, or angry at somebody else for saying they're envious, or angry at the angry person because you think they're jumping to conclusions, or whatever, you feel what you feel. I'm tired of trying to police my own feelings and I'm sure not going to tell someone else they aren't allowed theirs. Equally tired of trying to decide if this is even worth posting, or how to tie it off in the perfect way. So, in your face, depressive doubt! I'm clicking the button anyway.
posted by Zimboe Metamonkey at 5:48 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


...aaand now I feel the need to add, in case anyone is worried: Yes I'm chronically depressed, but I'm living with it. For everybody out there who is depressed (and we are legion) may you find the strength to hang on until you can do more. We do what we can with what we have.
posted by Zimboe Metamonkey at 6:11 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got frustrated and quit after realizing the person being depicted here was not me, did not think like me, was alien enough that I could no longer suspend disbelief in the pronoun "you". I am no stranger to depression, but the landscape of my mind, the coping mechanisms and behaviours and hard convictions I can push off of were not there. Nor did I feel anything was substituted in its place. The main character was not me, but also seemed so bland as to be not someone else either. Perhaps that is an unfair characterization and perhaps I ask for too much.

That isn't to say I think it's bad game at all, and it does a pretty good job of showing what being depressed feels like - the options being crossed off was a good touch. I just... couldn't imagine the character they were portraying as me, nor was there enough to get my head around what it was like being them. I think the reason it bothered me is not because it was bad, but because it was close to some sublime insight that it couldn't actually deliver.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:24 PM on February 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had to click away. I like the idea of simulations that try (even if they don't quite get there) to help others get the experience of depression.

Unfortunately to mirror my worst experiences with acute depression, you would have to erase their memories of ever feeling good in the past (the emotional amnesia of acute depression is what robs you of hope of ever feeling good in the future) and not allow them to turn the game off at will.

That might be a hard thing to pull off in a game, I know.
posted by jeanmari at 6:51 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also thought the choices crossed off aspect was striking--both that some choices are closed off to you, and that others, the ability to try to do some things and to reach out, aren't always, at least when you're not too far deep...

I really appreciated this.

I would like to personally thank everyone who came up with this game. I have depression, and going to therapy and medication have made a big difference, but I can still recognize the reality of the game.

However, I think the game is really useful to show other people what depression actually feels like, rather than the dramatizations of it.

I have taken this and shared it with my extremely extensive friends list and with target groups that might find it useful.
posted by corb at 8:12 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have to say that the occasional use of "they" for Alex was really distracting. And it just . . . it's not that protagonist had friends that was weird to me, it's that the protagonist had friends and didn't spend half their time thinking how no one could possibly actually like them and the friends just didn't know the truth.

Or maybe I didn't play long enough.
posted by jeather at 8:13 AM on February 15, 2013


I also found it ironic that this is a web based depression similator when in reality, for me, the internet (specifically mIRC) got me through a lot of super bad depression times.
posted by stormpooper at 9:17 AM on February 15, 2013


Going into the game, I expected it to be something I could use to help my significant other understand depression. Instead it pivoted the stage light around and showed me what it's like to be in a relationship with a depressed person who doesn't appear willing or able to take steps to get better. Not sure what to do with this insight but at least I have it now.

Also, why does the game assign a gender to Alex? All it does is make the scenario less realistic for people who don't have romantic relationships with women.
posted by John Singer Sandwich at 9:18 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Combining jeather'a and John Singer Sandwich's comments, it seems like Alex was originally going to be ambiguously gendered, but then they forgot, or decided they didn't like singular "they", and made her female. Which was a bit of a shame. They probably could have used an early in-game prompt for whether Alex was a boyfriend or girlfriend, and then just fix all the pronouns.

Also, it was really depressing (wokka wokka) how close to home this hit. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:35 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forgot to add, I like how people are already playing with the conventions of Twine, when Twine has barely been around for a year. The crossed out choices at the bottom are a very clever touch. I find it really interesting that Twine has taken off so much, especially with these agenda-driven games.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:45 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


stormpooper, the "attic" conversations actually seemed like a callout to that, or I related to it that way at least. I remember many a late-night conversation on IRC that went a lot like the fictional IM conversations did in the game.
posted by Kosh at 11:28 AM on February 15, 2013


Very engaging, I wish I could continue past the bug where the e-mail about the therapist's number abruptly cuts off. Noble idea, but a Web site that requests donations *before* you use it should spend a wee bit more time on basic QA.
posted by SakuraK at 10:35 PM on March 9, 2013


This hit closer to home than I thought. I'm the protagonist, except 4 years older and my work situation used to have a less understanding boss. I say used to have, because I both resigned from work recently and broke up with my SO and THEN finally went to therapy (and wanted to stick with it). It's not easy. Even though as a player I got the good ending on the first playthough and even when I was skimming the first sentence of each paragraph at times. But as me, it's harder to have to live every moment make the right choice and then follow through.
posted by FJT at 11:35 PM on March 10, 2013


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