Review: Depression Quest, the "Game" that started #GamerGate!

So, if you’re on any sort of social media or anywhere on the Internet, you’ve likely heard of this fiasco known as “GamerGate,” where gamers are supposedly screaming about a lack of ethics in the review of videogames (and have turned it into a lot of woman hate), which has led to the other side of the coin labeling people as misogynists, clamoring for “more rights for women” in videogame and saying “lives are being threatened so I need to troll them back” instead of, you know, calling the cops when a valid threat is made.  I’m not even going to get into the dynamics of GamerGate because both sides have a few flaws.  It just seems like a war between two groups of people with drastically different polar opinions from one another and my stance on it is “everybody needs to shut the fuck up and enjoy videogames again.”

What I AM going to do is look at the “game” that started it all, Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest, which got rave reviews.  I have NOT slept with Zoe Quinn, and therefore she has not influenced me to give a positive review.  On the other hand I’m not going out of my way to give this a negative review either, not intentionally, so what I intend to do is just share my honest opinion.  And that is the problem with this whole “ethics in videogame journalism" issue.  Here’s the short end of the stick:  There are none because everyone’s perspective on a game is different and all the big guys (IGN, Gamespot, etc.) have been getting their wheels greased by the developers for good reviews for years.

My wheels weren’t greased.  My dick is dry.  And I’m going to now look at this Depression Quest and see what the big deal is.

Going to the Depression Quest website I see they are proudly touting the awards for the game the way that annoying kid in school doesn't shut up about their gold stars in kindergarten, and also that it is free to play.  That is one thing I will give any game props on – the lower the price and the less that came out of my bank account the more likely I am to enjoy it.  However, it’s also called Depression Quest so this game is probably going to make me feel like shit.

Immediately I’m hit with some sad music and a disclaimer saying that “this game isn’t fun.”  Aren’t video games supposed to be leisure?  It even has a warning that if you are easily triggered to NOT play this game and call a suicide prevention hotline, and even though the warning is there, how many people listen to warnings?  I’m wondering if at some point in the future we’ll find someone “easily triggered” dead with Depression Quest in front of their monitors.  I am not easily triggered because I give no fucks, despite the fact that I do deal with depression.  I think I have a good grip on mine, being aware of it though.

Maybe a better name for this would be Depression Simulator 2014.  It also seems convenient all the hoopla showed up after the unfortunate passing of actor/comedian Robin Williams which is accredited to his fight against severe depression.  This reads less like a videogame and more like a college paper, though.  I click to start the game…  and immediately realize something isn’t right here.

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This really… isn’t a videogame.  Why are we calling it a videogame?  It’s an interactive browser-based choose-your-own-adventure book.  If this is a videogame every fictional website you’ve ever been to is a videogame.  The same way I can’t consider Arianne B the Date Simulator page a “true videogame" (it's more or less a simulator or a scenario producer than an actual videogame) is the way I would categorize Depression Quest.  Flash games created on Newgrounds should be considered videogames more than this.  I can see some of the point that was made when people were a bit agitated this got such rave reviews because it should not be reviewed as a videogame.  An interactive narrative, maybe.  A videogame?  Nope.  If this is a videogame, I’m going to have to start throwing photos and choices together on my web-space too so I can officially be called a developer.  I am in no way undermining whatever work this Quinn woman put into this project as much as I am simply saying it is not correctly categorized.  I could probably argue the semantics all day and there are probably some uppity social justice sorts demanding this gets treated like a videogame.  But the fact it isn’t means we should stop crediting it as one.

Anyway back to the plot of this interactive “hypothetical situation generator.”  You are a human being, who is genderless (because Quinn is sort of social justice-y herself she went for some ridiculous neutrals because social justice sorts believe there are 50-100 different genders; just look at Facebook’s new gender options over the past year).  What if you identify as being a space alien?  If I identify as Romulan than damn it, she is not being sensitive to what I identify as. BOYCOTT!!!  I admit that some of the Depression Quest plot makes sense. I definitely in my dealings with my own depression issues have a big issue with motivation or lack thereof.  I know that I rely on positive energy from others to bring me up and I definitely overthink it and lose sleep over not having that.  I’ll admit some of this is relatable, even though the music is so miserable I’m not sure if it makes me depressed or makes me want to headbutt a tree.

Wednesday?  You cannot legitimately be depressed on a Wednesday, ever, because that is MY day – Asked day where EdWood and myself do one of the most outrageous and interactive podcasts out there.  If you’re depressed on a Wednesday you’re not doing it right so show us the love (and the nudes) at 10:30 PM right here on listentothisshow.com (cheap plug).

Now I’m starting to go “I’m not sure if the character Quinn created is depressed or just an asshole.”  Hey, you have a job, you’re getting by, you get to go home early and even though your significant other is in class, you have one.  Sounds more like ungrateful than anything else.  Most people are unhappy because they don’t have these kinds of things, or any luck, or anything of the sort.  Suddenly whereas the “lack of motivation” was relatable, the “I have all sorts of nice things going on and I’m still unhappy” seems unrelatable.  When I have time off from work I go “oh shit, I get to do something else, and if I do nothing I get to sleep in.” If I had a significant other I would be like “YES. SEX!”  Don’t let anything this game is probably going to say fool you, sex is the best anti-depressant.  SEX!!!!!!!!!!!

We get our first choice and we go back to where I can relate a little, as sometimes I don’t want to work on my projects at all, have zero motivation, and find myself slacking.  I decide to go with my solution, which is to force myself through it anyway.  I don’t always do that, but I’m clearly doing it now by writing this review.

Well… shit.  That happens to me a lot.  Except I drink Pepsi, and you discriminated against us Pepsi Drinkers, so I’m going to boycott.  BOYCOTT.

So how come you’re an “it” but Alex is always a girl?  What if you were playing this and you were a heterosexual woman?  Or a homosexual man?  At first I thought the name Alex was to keep the significant other “gender neutral” but the developer immediately goes back on that by making Alex female instead of “indeterminate.”  Now I get to choose whether or not I go to the party.  One of the sources of my depression is that enjoyable social events are few and far between but if more opportunities arose I would go, so again I’m going with the option of “get out of your house you miserable fuck.”  I think truthfully the reason a lot of people don’t function well in society is BECAUSE they don’t leave the house enough anymore.  That’s what happens in an era of “buy everything online” and “talk to people on Facebook.”

This PBR photo is discriminatory to Corona drinkers.  I plan to boycott in the name of the Alcoholic Beverage Equality act of 2014.

I like how the answer that is most likely to help you be less depressed isn’t even an option; it’s red with strikethrough and unselectable.  I assume they are selectable if you make other previous choices, but that would require multiple playthroughs of this...thing and I would rather not subject myself to that kind of suffering.  Clearly Quinn has never heard of the concept of “fake it until you make it” and while some people don’t agree with it, sometimes you really don’t have a choice because we live in a world where you adapt or perish.  You have to be willing to travel outside your comfort zone otherwise you’ll just keep getting what you’re currently getting.  Sometimes the way you combat depression is to force yourself to NOT be depressed.  Only then can you see the positives.  Being in a pouty cloud isn’t going to help you.  You’ll likely never have a flat out “cure” for what’s ailing you but you can manage it better.  This game seems to only give four unproductive answers.  Then again I guess that’s why it’s entitled Depression Quest not “Coping with Your Depression Quest.”  Already the “character” is so intent on being miserable that options to try to NOT be miserable aren’t there.

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS IS A FUCKING PICTURE OF... SO I THINK WE SHOULD BOYCOTT IT.

In this case the mother is right.  You can either let depression eat you or you can try to break out of it.  But if you don’t try, you’ll never make it.  That’s just honest.  I wish “Shoot the hostage” was an option but then I remember this is Depression Quest, not Speed the videogame.  Speaking of Speed I really want to see Keanu’s new movie John Wick and haven’t yet.  I need to get on that…  BUT I AM TOO DEPRESSED.  WHAT DO I DO?

Truth.  You can’t win the lottery if you don’t play the lottery.  I then get the option of getting a cat, which I take, because this person has no pets, and yes, having a pet can be therapeutic as long as you’re not one of those people we make fun of on Asked who has sex with dogs.

Here is your character being a douche again.  Maybe from where I’m standing I wish I could hang out with my friends more often than I get to.  Invites to go have dinner and just have a good time are things I would gladly take.  I immediately read this and feel depressed, not because of this game, but because this is time I could be using to play a REAL video game instead and having fun instead of constantly face palming.  I ask the girlfriend if she’s happy which leads to a minor argument.  Oh, well. Shit happens.  I begin going through this faster simply because I want it to be over.  It seems like a lot of situations where you’re forced to lie to people instead of tell them you’re feeling shitty. 

Okay, admittedly I fucking HATE when that happens.  It feels like the universe has robbed you of 20-30 minutes of sleep.

WELL GEEZ, WHAT DO I DO?  YOU’VE GIVEN ME SO MANY CHOICES.

Finally after so much awful music and so many face-palm inducing moments a VALID choice presents itself.  That only took like an hour?  I could have gone from Level 50 to Level 55 on WoW by now.  Why am I doing this to myself?

…well there goes the ONE VALID RATIONAL DECISION that I was given.

As much as Depression Quest labels itself as interactive, it seems like you don’t get ANY choices in most routes you take AND you turn down sex.  Clearly Quinn doesn't understand the workings of the male brain... by making you an "it" she has essentially castrated you.  Any man regardless of his mental state will GLADLY take up sex, even if his girlfriend's vagina stinks  What the hell kinda crap is this?  This got rave reviews?  This makes me feel depressed alright – depressed that I’m wasting my time.  And once again, this isn’t really a videogame, as much as an interactive psych paper. 

Finally after what feels like a million years I start making decisions in the game that feel slightly less stupid and annoying – not that depression is stupid, just that NOT TRYING to fight your depression at all is stupid.  If you know you’re depressed, aware you’re depressed, the only way out of it is to try to do something about it.

By the way, follow the protagonist of Depression Quest and former Asked co-host, @Glenntertain.  I feel like 37% of his Twitter page is devoted to his cat.

Well maybe if I had been given options to do what the girlfriend wanted and spend time with her this wouldn’t have happened.  If I were a woman and weren't getting the dick I'd fucking leave, too.  Apparently this is about where the game ends after you see your stupid mother one more time.  There isn’t a suicide or anything but overall I feel like this was a waste of time and an exercise in futility.  Overall I felt like the game made ME want to shoot myself because of the fact there were clearly better options the whole way through.  It felt like this person WANTED to be depressed, rather than solve the problem.  Also again, it wasn’t a videogame so much as a “Choose your own adventure” with very limited choices and a depressing song playing in the background.  This game didn’t so much give you choices as much as “the illusion of choice.”  Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, it isn’t.  In fact I’m still trying to figure out what the hell I just did with two hours of my life.  Maybe that’s why it makes you depressed.  It makes me want to pull one of these on myself as I realize there are other things I could have done with my time:

Short-list of things I could have done that would have been a more effective use of my time instead of played & reviewed this “not a game:”

--Jerked Off.

--Made a Sandwich and ate it.

--Leveled a character in World of Warcraft from 50-60.

--Gone for a walk and played music I actually like that doesn’t make me feel like I’m inside of a nervous hospital.

--Jerked Off.  It was so important I had to list it twice.

--Written an article about something more amusing.

--Read a DECENT book instead of a “depression fanfic.”

--laundry.

--Manscaping up to and including shaving my hairy ballsac.

--Cleaned the cat litter (cats smell like shit, why wasn’t the fact that cats take mean shits in their litter box part of “Depression Quest?”)

--Watched ISW’s Slamtasia V available now on interspecieswrestling.com

I admit it was an innovative project, but to call it a videogame would be like calling those little pamphlets Jehovah Witnesses try to give you “novels of brilliant literature.”  I guess Depression Quest wasn’t meant to be enjoyed, and it certainly wasn’t.  It felt like the mental equivalent of a prostate exam where I just wanted it to be over.  I will say to the argument of whether or not she should develop what she pleases, of course she should. But just because someone who plays videogames happens to work on a project, that doesn’t automatically make this project a videogame.  That’s like saying doing my own YouTube videos makes me an actor. It is like calling “I Cant Believe It’s Not Butter” butter.

IT SAYS RIGHT THERE: "IT'S NOT BUTTER."

IT SAYS RIGHT THERE: "IT'S NOT BUTTER."

However, THIS is what all this GamerGate nonsense started over?  This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever witnessed by society at large.  The people outraged about this shit act like an untrained dog just took a shit on their $2000 couch.  The people mad ABOUT the people who are outraged and defend this are like those people who see someone slap their child for being a fuckwit and then end up calling the cops not minding their own business.  This is the stupidest argument I’ve ever seen and it makes me ashamed of the human race.  All of you are morons.  I again stand by the statement everyone needs to shut up and play videogames for what they are instead of demanding radical change or demanding everyone be tolerant or even being outraged about this.  It was kind of stupid for anyone with a functioning brain to call this a videogame, yes.  But am I outraged?  No.  I’m going to publish this review which I can really have summed up in a Jay Sherman style “IT STINKS,” and go on with my day.  However if this Depression Quest opened up the door for more like it, I can only hope that the idea Benoit-themed parody, Steroid Quest, I pitched to our good friend at tapordietees.com, the Crippler, former Asked consultant @Krispin_Wah actually happens.  I’m sure it would be way more fun than this shit.  And probably have an atrocious amount of Our Lady Peace playing. Or maybe even that really catchy Benoit song, Funk Du Benoitao:

That’s babymaking music.

If there’s one thing I can give Depression Quest it’s that experiencing it made me realize my own life wasn’t so bad because at least I’m not a miserable fuck intent on ALWAYS being miserable and at least I want to be happy and try to be happy instead of throwing up my hands over and over. I’m glad that’s over.  That sucked. Ms. Quinn if you want me to write a more positive review of your game, call me to schedule your blow job and anal experience.

Yuck!  …on second thought, don’t.  

P.S. If Zoe Quinn can ask for money for this... un-game, I can ask for money for reviewing it, so help me pay the bills and donate a couple of bucks via PayPal to jasonrivera@gmail.com - thanks.