How Proteus Gave One Player Space Apart from His Drug Habit


Content warning: Article discusses drug abuse and issues relating to it.

Over at IndieHaven, Simon Rankin shares the story of how games lost their appeal while he was abusing habit-forming drugs, and how one game, Proteus, managed to hold his attention even so.

Throughout the time I was using drugs I remained entirely functional, and I appeared to be in complete control to any casual observer, but really, I was barely making it through each day; time seemed to stand still, but weeks raced by in a heartbeat. Maintaining the pretence of normality was exhausting, and that exhaustion was beginning to wear me down.

The way I was living had killed my passion for everything I once enjoyed, including video games. My desire to engage with the medium just evaporated. Their narratives confused and bored me, and I didn’t have the patience to interact with mechanics or face any level of challenge. They caused me frustration and discomfort, and those were feelings I needed no more of. I didn’t want to play by anyone else’s rules, so I just stopped playing.

But there were times when my body was exhausted, yet my mind needed a gentle distraction. For many of these moments, I turned to the last remaining thread that tied me to video games — I played Proteus a lot.


Proteus is a strange game, one without overt goals or messages. For some, that means it’s nothing more than a walking simulator. But it’s that lack of goals or really any impetus that made it resonate so well for Rankin in his time of need. Proteus also provided him with the perfect metaphor for his drug use, but you’ll need to check out the rest of the article for that.

[IndieHaven via Critical Distance]
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