It doesn’t matter if Macrodepression has an ending or not, I can’t play it any more. That’s probably the point.
Confined to a single screen, Macrodepression has you live through a most boring existence on a loop. Inside the four crippling walls of a tiny bedroom, you can pass the time by browsing the net, popping antidepressants, and lying in bed despite not being able to sleep. It’s a microgame (the “macro” in the title cleverly implying that it’s the entire experience of depression) that rapidly and deliberately becomes tedious in order to drive you away from it. You will not want to play the game any longer after just a minute of enduring it.
The creator promises that there’s an actual ending to find but I don’t have the time or patience for it. Honestly, that’s probably the ideal reaction to Macrodepression—to push it away, to get away from its grinding loop of ennui. It’s a microcosmic simulation of the daily routine of those with depression, and its modal qualities seem to exist to communicate the idea that, for those suffering like this, there isn’t a clear ending in sight.
With Depression Quest, Actual Sunlight, and now Macrodepression (as well as a couple of other titles), the past year or so has seen videogames become a place for discussing and understanding one’s own depression by experiencing others’ struggles.
When I first played Actual Sunlight back in 2012, I was just coming out of the throes of depression myself, and found it almost shocking how personal the fiction felt. Sleeping alone with only a laptop for company—it occupied the empty half of my double bed—and the lethargy that hung over my shoulders every second of the day; it’s all in there. Seeing this inside of a videogame (which are one of the few things that I found pleasure in) helped me to create a distance from my depressed self, recognizing my own inactivity, and resolving to stop wasting my time mulling in my room.
It’s this experience that helped me realize how games about depression can be important, not only for others to understand what it’s like to have depression (which Depression Quest does brilliantly), but to also aid those with it to help themselves.
Sure, these games might be grim, and they’re most certainly not “fun”, but they can and often do resonate on a very deep and personal level with some. The inescapability and dull aesthetics of these games are manifestations of the burden of depression.
In the best-case scenario, playing these games helps you, me, and others recognize our behavior and mentality. That’s a strong first step towards coming out of the pitfall of depression in my experience.