The Average Gamer

Indie Rock: Play Depression Quest

Depression Quest
We’ve talked before about games being used to produce a sense of empathy, that a developer making a scenario the player has to involve themselves in and work to overcome does more to convey an idea than just telling them or letting them read it. Having to live with the same issues, even if obfuscated by the disconnect between fictional interpretation and reality, makes you better aware of the problem. Living out a version of what it’s like for someone under an extreme amount of stress or discomfort with their identity provides necessary context.

Depression Quest is a game that tries to do this for clinical depression. It’s not a fun game at all. Depending on how you play it you might potentially find it uplifting, but there’s a necessity for you to play it to completion to experience what it achieves as a teaching tool and as an excellent step forward for the medium of text adventures.

What the game intends to do is to let the player experience the life (based loosely on the experiences of the two writers) of someone struggling with depression. The player makes choices in entirely realistic concurrent situations but is hampered by the constraints of their own mental state. A new scenario will start and at the end of the page the player can decide what to do to move forward, but their actions are limited. There’ll be something like five options on-screen in some situations, but many of these won’t be available. They’ll be red and crossed out because your character is too depressed to select them.

This mechanic is great because it recognises that depressed people will recognise their options but not have the ability to choose them because they’re outside of their area of comfort. Depression doesn’t abide by logic. Knowing that performing an activity will benefit you doesn’t mean that you’ll feel capable of doing it. This game is incredible at conveying the reality of that life.

It’s not just important for the subject matter it chooses to go over. Everything about it is an attempt to add more flair and production value to a text adventure.

There’s a soundtrack. It continually plays a theme whilst you play, but different melodies will fade in and out depending on the situation. Along with this, extra layers of noise will be added to give context to your character’s environment. If they’re in an office? You’ll hear the appropriate typing and other sounds that accurately portray work-day drudgery.

It”s a game that serves to teach the audience about depression foremost, but it’s also a great example of breaking out of our limited expectations for what you can achieve in this type of game.

You can play it for free, or pay what you want, at the Depression Quest website. You should. It’s great.

Oh Also:

I was invited to a beta game of Neptune’s Pride. For those unaware, Neptune’s Pride is a series that plants 8 players in a randomly generated galaxy. The goal is to capture 88 planets with limited resources. It’s a game about building your own economy, about maintaining diplomatic relations and constantly pushing/defending your borders.

Neptunes PrideThe hook is that every decision you make will take hours (if not days!) to actually come into effect. You’ll send ships over to a planet and it might take 10 hours for them to get there. In that time another player might be able to adapt and change their plans to better defend themselves, but you’re already locked in from when you first made the move. It’s a game about thinking with clarity and forethought.

I was the first person to be eliminated from our game.

My empire was right in the middle of the map! I was beset on all sides! I tried to ensure that in my first turn I was building up my economy so that I would have more money to spend later, but what I should have done was built up my ships so that I could defend better and also research technology for a tactical advantage. I was also trying to be an isolationist and not have too much to do with anyone else, but assumedly that meant they didn’t have much tactical incentive to keep me alive.

It would be great to start another game some time with some readers. Please leave a comment if you’d be interested in trying this game out too.