You Should…Play: Depression Quest


Depression Quest
By Zoe Quinn 2013

…Or maybe you shouldn’t, if you’re someone who should heed the gamesite’s trigger warning. Or maybe you should talk to someone at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat link provided on the game’s “about” page. But if you’ve ever wondered about depression—what it is, what it’s like, whether you are yourself depressed—or if you’ve ever wished someone in your life would “just get over it,” then Depression Quest is an informative starting place.

Depression Quest is an interactive (non)fiction online game, available at its award-winning gamesite at and on Steam, where it gets terrible, angry reviews for not conforming to traditional shoot-em-up gaming formats and objectives. Instead, Depression Quest is a literate, interactive narrative of the daily struggle of a young adult living with depression, including how depression impacts choices made around work and social interactions, Poignantly, the “choices” available to players include a “normal” or non-depression option for responding or interacting that is crossed out: Indeed, such responses and thought-processes are not available to those suffering from depression.

Although minimalist in its use of images and audio, Depression Quest nonetheless subtly signals “levels” of depression based on the options chosen, including lessening color concentration and scratchier sound to suggest the loss of the intensity of and pleasure in living that lead too many to contemplate ending their lives.

Quinn was threatened and doxxed as one of the primary targets of “GamerGate,” an online harassment campaign against several women involved in the gaming industry. GamerGate continues as part of a culture war against diversification in gaming form and content, and sadly reflects a general cultural ignorance and embarrassment surrounding mental illness that we all should be engaged in combating—and not just when a straight, white male celebrity ends his life."

- Kelly Dennis
Associate Professor of Art History
Department of Art + Art History