Step into artist Cornelia Geppert’s visually stunning video game “Sea of Solitude,” which explores how battling the “monsters” of loneliness and self-doubt can help us better grapple with the complexity and struggles of mental health.

芸術家コーネリア・ゲッパートのビジュアルに富んだビデオゲーム「Sea of Solitude」に入りましょう。このゲームでは、孤独や自己疑念の「怪物」と戦うことが、精神の健康の複雑さや苦闘と向き合うのにどのように役立つかを探求します。

タイトル A video game that helps us understand loneliness
スピーカー コーネリア・ゲッパート
アップロード 2020/01/07

「孤独を理解するのに役立つビデオゲーム(A video game that helps us understand loneliness)」の文字起こし

Have you ever felt lonely? The urge of wanting to connect with people, but you seem to have no one you really would want to contact? Or, it’s a Friday night and you want to be with others, but you have no energy to go out, so instead you sit at home all evening, watch Netflix and feel more alone than ever? You feel like a monster between humans that know how to function. This is what loneliness felt like to me.

So I’m an artist, and I process my emotional world by sharing my feelings through my art. If you share your feelings with someone, and they understand and share those feelings too, you create an emotional and deep connection. This is why you can be surrounded by hundreds of people, jump from one candidate to the next, but still feel lonely. It’s because these deeper connections haven’t been made.

I was an always-happy child. I think we nearly have no single photo of me where I don’t smile broadly or laugh or joke around. And this went on until … well, it’s still the case. But I had many friend groups up until, as a young adult, I moved to another city for my first job as a comic artist. And like so many young, thriving people all over the planet, I concentrated all my energy into my work life. But, if you spend, like, 90 percent of your daily capacity trying to succeed at work, of course there is nothing left to take care of all the other important aspects in your life, like your human relationships.

Nourishing friendships as an adult is work. You need to be consistent with connecting. You need to be open, you need to be honest. And this is all I struggled with, because I tend to camouflage my real feelings by trying to appear always happy and trying to make everyone else happy, too, by trying to fix their problems. And I know a lot of us are guilty of this, because it’s an easy way to not think about your own issues. Isn’t it? Hmm? Hmm? Hmm?

OK. The turning point came when I fell into an emotionally abusive relationship just a few years ago. He isolated me and left me feeling more alone than ever. It was the lowest point in my life, but it was also my wake-up call, because it was the first time that I really felt loneliness.

Many artists put their feelings into their art. There are endless books, movies, paintings, music, all filled with the real emotion of an artist. So, as an artist myself, I did the same. I shared my feelings. I wanted to help people cope with loneliness. I wanted, yeah, to make them understand it, to really experience it through my art in the form of an interactive story, a video game.

So, in our game — we called it “Sea of Solitude” — you are a person named Kay, who is suffering from such strong loneliness that her inner feelings — the anger, the feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness — turn to the outside, and she becomes a monster. The game — well, Kay — is actually a representation of me and the path I went through to overcome my struggles. The game plays, actually, in Kay’s mind, so you walk through a world that is flooded by her tears, and the weather is changing by her mood, how her mood is changing. And, well, the only thing Kay wears, the only thing, is her backpack. It’s the baggage we all carry throughout our life. And Kay doesn’t know how to cope with her emotions in the right way, so her backpack becomes bigger and bigger until it bursts, and she finally is forced to overcome her own struggles.

In our story, we present many different manifestations of loneliness. Loneliness through social exclusion is very common. In our game, the brother of Kay got bullied in his school, and he just wants to hide and fly away. And we portray him as a huge bird monster surrounded by thick fog. The player has to actually walk through his school and experience, really feel the harm, that the brother had been through, because for a long time, nobody really listens to him. But the very moment friends and family start to listen, the first step towards overcoming this form of loneliness had been made.

We also show loneliness in relationships, like when parents just stay together for the sake of their kids but end up hurting the entire family. We put the player literally in between the two parents while they are fighting, and you get hurt in the middle. They don’t even see that their daughter, Kay, is right there until she breaks down.

We also show loneliness through mental health issues, with the boyfriend of Kay, who suffers from depression and shows that sometimes it is most important to focus on your own well-being first. The boyfriend also tends to camouflage his feelings, so he appears like a lone, shiny white wolf. But the moment he starts to interact with his girlfriend, Kay, the mask falls off, and we see the black dog beneath it: depression. Sometimes we put on a smile instead of dealing with the issues at hand, and that can ultimately make it worse, affect the people around us and damage our relationships.

So Kay herself we portray as ripped apart into her basic emotions. Some help you, some are trying to stop you. Self-Doubt is a huge creature, always telling Kay how worthless she is and that she should just give up. Like in real life, Self-Doubt is blocking the path, and it seems impossible to overcome it. Destroying the omnipresence of Self-Doubt is a slow process. But in the game, you can slowly, like, shrink her, so she turns from self-doubt to actually healthy doubt, and you can finally trust her advice.

We also show Self-Destruction. It’s a huge monster always lurking nearby under the water’s surface. Self-Destruction is actually the main antagonist of the game, and she is always trying to drown you in the ocean of tears. But, when she actually drowns you, you wake up just a few moments [before], and you have a chance to progress again.

We wanted to show that we all go through hardships in our life, we all do. But if you at least, like, stand up and try to move forward, you are very likely to make it through your struggle, step by step. Joy is something that Kay cannot really embrace or touch. It’s always something in the distance. We portrayed Joy as a child version of Kay, with a yellow raincoat, so she is invulnerable to the ocean of tears. But Joy can also turn into obsession and start to be actually harmful for Kay, like when she starts obsessing over her boyfriend. Joy will not turn back to normal until Kay realizes that her happiness should not depend on anybody else but herself.

So our monsters appear huge and scary, but if you overcome your reluctance and approach them, you soon see that they are no monsters at all, but just fragile beings that are simply overwhelmed by what life throws at them. All of those emotions, be it self-doubt or even self-destruction, don’t completely vanish in our game. The key message is to not only chase for joy or happiness but to embrace all your emotions and bring them into balance, being OK with sometimes not being OK.

Everyone has their own loneliness story to tell. This realization changed everything for me. Being much more open with my emotions and concentrating much more on my private life, my friends, my family. When we released the game, literally thousands of fans wrote us, all sharing their stories with us and telling us they felt not so alone anymore just because they played our game. Many people wrote us that they felt hope for a better future for themselves for the first time in decades. Many wrote us that they seek therapy now, just because they played our game and felt hopeful to overcome their own struggles.

Our game is not a therapy. It’s not meant to be a therapy. It’s just my friends and me sharing our stories through our art, video games. But we are so deeply thankful for every single message that people feel better, just because we shared our story with them. So … I didn’t completely overcome my urge to help others. But I don’t want to overcome it anymore. I love it. I just needed to bring it to a healthy size, so it doesn’t stand in the way of deeper relationships anymore, but even help me to connect with people.

So, if you have an inner monster that is born out of negative emotions, it is not only the goal to kill that monster but to understand that we humans are complex beings. Look at what part of your life is so big that others fall short. Look at what emotions you barely feel or maybe feel too much and move towards lowering those peaks. Most of all, it’s about understanding that all the wide range of emotions and struggles makes us what we are: humans. Thank you.

「孤独を理解するのに役立つビデオゲーム(A video game that helps us understand loneliness)」の和訳







だから、私たちのゲーム――それを「Sea of Solitude(孤独の海)」と呼びました――では、あなたはケイという人物で、彼女は強い孤独感に苦しんでおり、内なる感情――怒り、絶望感、自己価値の感覚――が外に向かい、彼女は怪物になります。ゲーム――実際にはケイ――は私と私が苦労を乗り越えるために歩んだ道を表しています。ゲームはケイの心の中で進行するので、あなたは彼女の涙に浸った世界を歩き、天候が彼女の気分によって変わります。そして、ケイが身に着ける唯一のものは、彼女のバックパックです。それは私たちが一生涯背負っている荷物です。ケイは自分の感情をうまく処理する方法を知らないので、彼女のバックパックはどんどん大きくなり、最終的には破裂し、彼女自身の苦難を乗り越えることを余儀なくされます。