Designers: Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey, Isaac Schankler

Platform: Web Browser, Steam

Release Date: Feb 14, 2013

Game Location: http://www.depressionquest.com/dqfinal.html

 

Explanation

Depression Quest is a click through adventure in which the player lives as a person suffering from depression. The game is almost completely text based with a couple images and sound effects smattered throughout to provide a sense of being. Players navigate the game through predefined answers usually to questions given by other characters in the story. As the player makes decisions the options available to the player can increase or decrease but there are usually one or more options that are completely out of the question. The blocked options are the ones that the player would likely want to choose but the character literally cannot bring their self to that solution no matter how bad they want to. As the player progresses a text box on the bottom of the page explains the level of depression your avatar is experiencing. The goal of the game is not just to make it to the end, but to keep your avatar alive. As you play and coping options begin to become increasingly sparse and the player is forced to make decisions they may not want to. Eventually the player may end up running out of options, which does not seem to end well for the player’s avatar.

 

Screenshot

Depression Quest Screenshot

Notice the three grey bars at the bottom of the screen. These represent your avatar’s level of depression, whether a therapist is being seen or not, and if medication is being taken. The messages in the three boxes explain exactly how depressed the character is feeling and what they are struggling with. It also shows how well sessions with a therapist are going and how the avatar feels towards the drugs that are being used to treat them, if any. The pictures in the top center of the page change depending on what situation the player is in. The keyboard as seen here is representative of the character being in front of his computer. The game also includes music and sound effects that are associated with the picture being shown. The left side of the screen always has a link to restart the game in case you get stuck or cannot continue on. When options are available to the player they appear as the blue text seen near the bottom of the screen. The red text has been struck-through and is not available for selection. Players make decisions by clicking on the desired response in blue. Additionally throughout the text players may see nouns that are blue. These allow the player to gain additional information about the items without affecting the progression of the game. Clicking on any blue text acts as a link and takes the player to the appropriate part of the story.

 

 

Strategy

  • Determine the path of positive interaction
    • The player needs to determine what the best course of action for the avatar is at any given moment. This is usually the option that places the avatar in a situation where they need to interact with others. Simply put, avoid all answers that involve allowing the player to be alone with his self or to interact with his mother (mostly) as she is an antagonist in the game.
  • Seek help
    • Choosing the options that lead to seeing a therapist and utilizing medication as soon as possible drastically increases the chances of the player successfully completing the game.
  • Stick with your girl
    • The girlfriend is a rock of positive emotions that the player can latch onto to keep their head above water. Almost any positive option regarding the girlfriend will result in a better outcome for he player.
  • Treat it like real life
    • Players can successfully navigate the game by treating it like it is truly happening to them and making logical decisions. That being said it can be treated like a real life depression problem and will benefit from ideas and practices like the ones provided by Hannah Myers in the article “How to Battle Depression Naturally” located here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/35091-battle-depression-naturally/

 

Dynamics

  • Because options available to the player depend on the avatars mental health the game may end up making decision for you.
  • Because it is a web game, players can use the back button to “redo” their decisions.

Additional Notes

This game really hit home for me. It reminded me of some recent life changing events that occurred within my family and really opened my eyes to the signs that were there but were misread by my family members and myself. I think games like this are extremely important for others to experience so that they can have a sense of what it feels like to be extremely depressed. Knowing the signs and what help can be done can literally save lives.

 

Similar Games

Passage – A game where the player walks through their life and ages as it progresses. There is not true point to the game only the inevitability of death. Passage can be found here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/raitendo/passage-in-10-seconds

 

Design Ideas

It gives me the idea for a similar game depicting what it is like to live with rage, PTSD, or any form of psychological trauma that results in a person acting out in unexpected ways. Knowing the trials and tribulations that a person who is mentally ill goes through could go far regarding understanding of and the appropriate treatment for said problem.

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