To be honest, I never really heard much about the world of depression before the past few years. I knew someone in University who suffered it and took medication. I didn't quite get it. I said the stereotypical line to myself "how can he be doing well in university, have a boyfriend, a car he adores, a loving network of family and friends" and yet he often finds himself in this black hole, he can't explain where he needs to be alone and take medication. I will say that will educating yourself is important in life, people cannot be blamed for simply not knowing the details of every illness and situation that all humans can/do go through. There's a difference between being unaware and plain ignorant.
It was my first encounter and it wasn't until 2 years later I would go through my own bouts. I don't suffer from clinical depression, but I do go through extreme cases of it. I endured it for a year straight, loss of hope, waning faith and it was all new to me. I'd been sad of course, but this was new, fresh, roaring with life and yet so empty and dead. I can't describe it gracefully. You kinda know it's coming and you want to fight it, you sit in a silent panic internally, willing it to subside and not to come back.
I'd like to also to just highlight that just because someone is not diagnosed with depression or suffering it due to a chemical imbalance, does not make the depression they go through any less harrowing or invalid for purpose of discussion.
While it's good to talk about these things, a lot can be said for not delving in to talks of depression as a topic, taking a back seat and playing video games like Depressing Quest and Actual Sunlight, can have a doubled edge sword effect.
I think it's perfectly ok and understandable to play these games that you can relate to or that can give you even a glimmer of insight, but on the other hand I would like to heavily promote the idea that it's also ok to not indulge in them.
Playing video games can help you when you're going through stages of depression, because you're playing something immersive that takes your mind off it. It doesn't fix anything, but it gives you a mental relief. I can play Mass Effect, Pokémon, Metro or anything and just focus on getting through the levels, indulging in the story and for a little while not being bogged down in what I'm usually thinking when not heavily distracted.
I wouldn't ever play games like Depression Quest, whilst being in a very dark place. I've started a playthrough of Actual Sunlight and I'm not sure if I want to continue. For me if I do, it will be to simply complete the game. Again if you do for whatever reason, then that's good, that's dandy. But for me I see it as a slippery slope, one that is letting me succumb even further. For others that feeling of understanding can make them, momentarily perhaps, feel less alone and so for that reason, I get it.
On the Scary Granules Channel I begun a play-through of The Cat Lady. Unlike Depression Quest and Actual Sunlight, this game is brutal in it's visceral, cerebral bluntness and gore. The game is like a shock of emotional, deathly lightning, that's how I felt when the initial subdued, bleak opening dialogue ended.
I decided to not go on any further after a certain point of the game. It was very close to home in the subject matter and I could get a feeling that no matter how this game ended, there would be no uplifting conclusion or aftermath, not really. The path being taken by our heroine, if you could call her that, was not one of redemption or resolve and upon reading the script for the remainder of the game I didn't want to play, I found out that my assumptions were pretty accurate. Though the elves and choices you make and characters you come across were a lot more morbid than I would have guessed.
Again this is a case of something having the ability to resonate with someone, but whether that leads to a positive or negative effect is wholly dependant on the individual.
Summary of things I've learnt under the "gaming and depression" umbrella:
There's a lot to be said for playing online multiplayer games when you're in a rough spot, this is coming from a 95% single player gamer. It's nice to play with friends or people who are cool online, for a brief moment, you kinda lose that feeling of loneliness.
Decide for yourself what is the best course when it comes to picking a game to play when you're depressed. Go with your gut and trust yourself whether you decide to play something where depression is the primary theme or decide not to. It's ok either way.
Don't beat yourself up or beat others for not knowing what you're going through. How could they, it's such a solitary, internal personal conflict.
Play games for what they are, don't let the e-drama ruin that for you.
For those that are interested and not aware, though you probably are - Depression Quest is free currently on Steam. Despite the actions of the creator, that doesn't really encourage me one way or the other, not to at least give folks a heads up and decide for themselves.