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Depression Quest Is the Most Important Game I’ve Ever Played
I didn’t want to play it.
Depression Quest entered my radar when I read an article about a female game dev getting harassed by some pathetic mouth-breathers on the internet. Ever the proud feminist, I looked into it further. Her name is Zoe Quinn, and she’s trying to get Depression Quest, a game she made with Patrick Lindsay and Isaac Schankler, through Steam’s Greenlight program.
I’ve spent most of my life struggling with depression, but the past few years have been easier. I’ve been managing my depression, hating myself less, coming out of my funks with less difficulty. With the exception of a particularly rough recent couple of months, I’ve felt like the worst is behind me. It has certainly been better than the hell that was high school and college. But I still struggle socially. I haven’t had a girlfriend in some years, and I avoid going out at all costs.
I read more articles, and even followed Zoe on Twitter. But I didn’t look into Depression Quest itself. It was a subconscious sort of thing. I took note of its existence, but otherwise paid it no mind. I didn’t stop to think why I wasn’t researching this further.
Then, yesterday, as I was about to head to bed, I took one last look through my Twitter feed, and read some of Zoe’s tweets about how Depression Quest was helping so many people grabbed my attention. On a whim, I finally Googled it.
Depression Quest is a free game you can play in your browser, in a sort of choose-your-own-adventure style. You’re a person living with depression, and you have to manage your social life, relationships, family pressures, and a job you can’t stand. You’ll need to make choices to proceed, but depending on how depressed you are, some options will simply be unavailable to you.
And I pulled up short. The first page warns that people who are currently suffering from depression and are easily triggered may want to shy away, and while I’m currently on an upswing, I was worried this could drag me back down. This was not going to be a fun experience. And it was already after my usual bedtime. But despite every excuse I could think of not to play it, something told me this could be really, really important.
So I shrugged and clicked “Begin.”
It did not take long before I was completely blown away. I cried, twice, before it was all over. They captured better than I can, better than I dared to dream was possible, what it’s like to be depressed. This wasn’t a game about someone with depression. This was a game about me. This WAS me in 1997, 2000, 2005, 2008, a month ago, and a thousand times in-between.
I cannot urge you strongly enough to play this game. I don’t mean just gamers, I mean EVERYONE. If I could publish this article in the Wall Street Journal, I would.
If you know someone with depression (and you DO), you owe it to yourself and you owe it to them to play this game with an open heart and an open mind – this is how we live our lives. These are the fights we face each and every single day, and the miracle of it all is that a lot of us are still here. We are still fighting.
If you suffer from depression yourself, I also recommend it – as they say on the first page, it could trigger a strong emotional reaction, but it proves unequivocally that there are others who know how it feels, and that you are NOT alone. There is hope, you are loved, and there is a reason to keep fighting.
Depression Quest isn’t the best game I’ve ever played, but it’s easily the most important. This game will not only teach you something – it will make you a better person.
You can find and play the game here – www.depressionquest.com – you can pay what you want, or play it for free. A portion of all proceeds goes to iFred, a charity that seeks to shine a light on depression to help fight it – and the stigma that comes with it.