[I love games, but the older and busier I get, the less time I have to play them. Being as book-minded as I am, I’m mostly drawn to games with compelling and intricate stories. In this column I share some of my game playing experiences that I think might be of interest to fellow book nerds. You can read previous installments here.]
I came across a couple indie games–if you want to call them that, there’s not much playing–and was struck in such a way that I wanted to talk about it. It’s going to get a little heavy from here, so heads up.
I have major depressive disorder. It’s something I’ve dealt with pretty much my entire adult life; sometimes I’m able to cope with it well, and other times I’ll go through extended periods of struggle that are as seemingly endless as George R. R. Martin’s winters.
One of the most difficult hurdles of depression, and what make it a real son of a bitch, is that it runs counter to logic. I’m perfectly aware if I’m being too hard on myself, or if I’m making a decision I know I’ll regret, or that I should be finding pleasure in certain things. I can sit down and think or write about it rationally. Then I won’t follow through with any plans to adjust things, at least not when I’m in the depths of an episode. It’s like my id locks me in a box and puts my body on autopilot toward a brick wall. I scream at myself inside my head to pay attention and change course, but the rest of me isn’t listening.
Feeling helpless inside your own body is a horrible experience. And it helps perpetuate the negative emotions, pushing you down even deeper, convinced of your ineffectual helplessness. Usually I am able to wrest back control and swerve at the last minute, but not everyone is so lucky to miss that wall.Actual Sunlight 2013, Will O’Neill Available for: PC
Actual Sunlight was created by one man, and the whole thing will take you about a half hour start to finish. (Unfortunately you need Windows to run it currently.) It tells the story of a young man, Evan, who suffers from depression. You guide him as he goes to work, rides out the day, goes home, gets drunk and eats junk food, and repeats it all the next day. You control Evan with the arrows on your keyboard, but very few options are put before you. You have to go to work. You have to talk to your boss. You have to stop at the store for junk food and video games, despite Evan’s narration telling you how much he really doesn’t want to be doing that.
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