Game Review of Depression Quest
Abstract: For this assignment, I was tasked with playing the game “Depression Quest”. I had to test if Juul’s rules applied to this game and make the argument that it still indeed was a game. There are six specific rules that games must follow according to Juul. Even though for people with depression, it could be triggering and for most people it would not be a game played regularly. However, it is a very accurate view of depression and still adhered to the six rules that Juul set for games.
Essay: Game Review of Depression Quest
The twine game “Depression Quest” is not supposed to be fun. The game within itself is very depressing and clearly explains what depression is actually like for people that don’t have it or haven’t experienced it to the necessary prescription level. For those that do have depression, the game isn’t a refreshing reminder of what they go through, it should definitely be categorized under a trigger warning. Yet, the game follows all but one of Jasper Juul’s “6 game features”, the fifth rule, Attachment of the player outcome. In Juul’s eyes, this would make, “Depression Quest” not a real game, yet he is wrong. For, “Depression Quest” is most certainly a game, maybe not one worth playing all the time, but still a game. I believe that Juul’s rules must lenient especially in this current time when new gaming concepts and dynamics are being discovered and explored. Ultimately, I believe that Juul’s rules should be kept as a foundational reference to game developers but they must give leniency to the new age of games.
The game, “Depression Quest” is a legitimate game because of the fact that it does have rules which lead to variable and quantifiable outcomes. First, “your” depression is the driving force of the decisions given to the player. No matter what you choose the outcome will be counted and noted by other characters in the story. For example, the girlfriend that the player gets in the game, she will remember how the player treats her in regards to her depression. A primary example of this is when the player has the choice to move in with the girlfriend character. If they choose to, she is elated, if not she is sad, and if the player chooses maybe, she
is just confused. What makes Juul wrong about, “Depression Quest” in this aspect is the fact that there are so many outcomes and variables being taken into consideration at all points of the game.
As mentioned before, the other characters in, “Depression Quest” will remember and react to the players choices. So that when the player picks an option that looks like the overall best one, the reactions of the other characters are better. These options are a form of valorization of the outcome. Remember, the main character that the player controls has severe depression and wants to hide it and try to keep everyone pleased. One of the best valorizations is the option to get therapy, then get medications to get the help that the main character needs. The therapy does in a way make the player have hope for the main character. In the end, hope to manage and live with the main characters depression is the driving goal. While this might not be an overall enjoyable goal, Juul’s rules still can apply if they give leniency.
In addition, the game does require player effort and some deep thinking of the next move, it lacks a certain motivation. If the player does suffer or has suffered from depression before, this game is very triggering. However, there is an attachment to the choices given. The players want to know if their decisions for this main character have paid off. Also, even though Juul himself may have not considered this an overall enjoyable game, the player can still emerge themselves within the game play. Which leads to his fifth rule, player attachment outcome. Even though it is very hard for those that this game triggers, the player themselves still wants to know what happens after each decision. The main character’s development level revolves all around what the player decides for them. They ultimately have the power through their attachment, to make the main character’s life better or worse.
Finally, Juul is wrong about, “Depression Quest” not being a game because of the fact that, it has negotiable consequences. The player can choose for the main character to sink more into their depression. Or, they can seek ways to cope with it and learn to live with it. The player can choose to explore the depth of true depression. Getting help of course, is the lighter path to this game, yet it can be avoided if the player chooses to do so. Also, the player still is given to options to redeem the bad decisions they have made for the main character, but they can’t always fully recover from those choices. That is why the games negotiable consequences hold throughout the game.
Even though, “Depression Quest” can be a hard play through, it keeps to all of Juuls rules while exploring how far they can take them. In the new age of game development, this is essential. The game may have different interpretations of Juuls rules, yet that does not mean it is not a game. The player is engaged and has to make decisions and suffer outcomes just like any other game. Juul’s rules should be referenced as a foundation for game development. However, if a game does not meet all of his rules that does not declassify it as a game. As grueling as, “Depression Quest” was to play, it still founded its game play and design along Juul’s rules, it just branched them out.