This Tiny Game About Depression Gets Uncomfortably Real


Over the weekend, 65 games were created for a game jam with an unusual theme: make a game based on one of the tweets of game maker and critic Pippin Barr.

Dante Douglas, editor and co-founder of Deorbital chose this tweet as the basis for his entry:

Jumping for joy sounds pretty good, but Douglas took his game in a different direction. It is, as the title says, Depression Presented Ludically in the Style of a Videogame.

Aside from the lack of joy, Douglas’s entry follows the terms of the tweet perfectly. You don’t get to go anywhere, see anything or kill anyone. You just get to jump.

So you jump as platforms scroll steadily toward the bottom of the screen. Eventually, you fail. You might miss a jump, but if not, the game will give you an impossible gap. And then you lose. And the game says something unfriendly, like, “You can’t even play a game right.”

It’s a frustrating little game-poem, all the more so because it’s not hard to see the familiarity of the situation if you’ve dealt with depression. You can start the day full of the very best intentions, but no one’s perfect, and nothing ever goes 100% right. When you slip up or things go a little wrong, how much easier is it to look at it as part of a pattern of failure than an isolated incident when you’re depressed?

Depression Presented Ludically in the Style of a Videogame isn’t a hopeful game, but there’s something positive to be found in it: if the cognitive distortions that depression brings with it can be so effectively portrayed in such a tiny game, then clearly none of us are alone in those thoughts.

[Depression Presented Ludically in the Style of a Videogame by Videodante]
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