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Rainy Day is a powerful and sobering look at anxiety

Rainy Day, a recent interactive narrative by Thais Weiller, is a quick and impactful glimpse of the paralyzing power of anxiety. It was born out of creative frustration when she moved from a design role to production, where she often stayed quiet about her own creative ideas so as not to disrupt the flow of her team. “I remember feeling as if I was silenced,” she said, “as if something was missing and I couldn’t say exactly what. Feeling that bad wasn’t particularly new to me a year back […] but feeling silenced was new.” She decided to try to…

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Smart devices still struggle to cope with mental health crises

Content warning: This article discusses suicide and depression. /// Most days can be good days, even when you’re diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Or at least they can be made to look as such. You learn to put on a good face, to make it through the day. All of this means that when you spiral—and you will inevitably spiral—it’s harder to reach out for help. So much of your effort is devoted to convincing people that you’re okay, to putting on a good face, that it’s hard to say things are going wrong. So, when you spiral, you are…

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Idolm@ster and the mechanics of depression

I don’t know precisely when it was I realized that I suffered from depression, but it certainly wasn’t from playing a videogame. Maybe it was from watching a red-haired, mecha-piloting girl mentally tear herself apart under the weight of her own expectations, and feeling a similar sense of despair in my own weighty ambitions that I failed. Maybe it was from re-reading the same fantasy novels about a particular boy wizard over and over again, feeling that the only escape I ever had from reality was in those books. Maybe it was from listening to early 2000s emo bands that…

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Inside Please Knock on My Door, a new perspective on depression

“This could be anyone.” This is the premise for game designer Michael Levall’s upcoming game, Please Knock on My Door. It’s a choice-driven narrative, with three paths awaiting the player on exploring the realms of depression, social anxiety, and general phobia.  The game begins almost as any working person’s day would. The player drowsily wakes up from their noisy alarm, and slogs out of bed. Then an omniscient, The Stanley Parable-esque narrator pipes into the game, and urges the player to eat breakfast and speed off to work by 7:30am. This is where player choice comes in, as they can listen to…

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The Year in Anxiety

There’s nothing to be worried about, it’s just a quiet walk through the woods. The sun is shining through the leaves. Strings swell in the background as you amble about. Everything is okay. Only it isn’t. Sure, Alessandro Salvati’s Anxiety Attacks starts out pleasantly enough. You are in the woods and everything is indeed picturesque. Your only real job is to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Walk through a field of flowers. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe—you get the hang of it. Well, you think you’ve got the hang of it, and then the sky turns red, your breath shortens,…

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A videogame meant to raise awareness of anxiety attacks

Anxiety Attacks doesn’t need to wander far from its inspiration to earn its status as a horror experience; there are no jumpscares or monsters—just the knowledge that you might not be in control of what you see and feel, that something as simple as moving and breathing can become a chore to juggle. It is, in short, a mental breakdown simulator, emulating the experiences of those who suffer from anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks. You start in a bright forest, greeted with flowers and birdsong; the sun is bright, and the world is rich and vivid. You are given only…

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A play about male clinical depression is now also an interactive story

An Interview is not all black—little pops of colour occasionally surface—but you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve fallen into a world of blackness. And so you have. An Interview is Manos Agianniotakis’ interactive adaptation of Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn’s play “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.” The pair’s performances grapple with the issue of clinical depression, particularly as it affects men. Here’s how they describe the show: Expect home made music, stupid dancing, onstage arguments, real life stories, tears and truths in this wickedly heartwarming and funny celebration of the wonders and pitfalls of the human brain. Consequently,…

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An upcoming videogame takes a heartfelt look at depression in Tokyo

We expect our surgeons to have steady hands. Some of the time, our lives depend on it. But what happens when that steadiness deserts a surgeon? Like a golfer with the yips, one crisis leads to the next, spreading outwards to affect the surgeon’s professional life and his emotional state. Suddenly, the steadiness in question is both literal and figurative. The ground is trembling beneath their feet and nothing calms it down. How can our surgeon ever be made whole again? Healing Process, a game by developer Sam L. Jones, tells the story of a surgeon who needs to be…

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The year of Luigi came and went, leaving behind a husk of a man

The world is weightless, a black abyss we disguise behind shades of blue and brick. But when the paint washes off, you see this strange land for what it is: a place without death because no actual life inhabits it, a blackhole without meaning beyond the veneer we coat it in. You go right, not out of any real desire to, but because turning left would only get you further away from the end, where the promise of nothingness awaits. You take a drag from the cigarette clutched between your fingertips. It hisses, a sound too real for an otherwise…