A video game that helps us understand loneliness | Cornelia Geppert

A video game that helps us understand loneliness | Cornelia Geppert


Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Camille Martínez 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? (Laughter) 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 others 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. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “A video game that helps us understand loneliness | Cornelia Geppert

  1. i would love to see this turn into movie. not many people play games but most people do watch movie. love the message through this game. every words she said is what i feel right now. eventhough i'm with my parents, i still feel extremely lonely. sharing sensitive feelings is not happening in my family plus me hiding my emotions also does not help either…

  2. Expected this to be a video about Death Stranding, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover another gem out there that strives for something meaningful

  3. There is a chance this kind of game is an anti-therapy and brings some people down. I’m afraid of people trying to "help" without any scientific backup, it looks like crookery.

  4. As if most player would interpret it like an English teacher would interpret the book that you were supposed to read during holidays.

  5. I don't know what it feels like to be lonely, thou I've always been alone. I talk to my creator and only do human relationships when am in the situation where I have to interact or else I don't go looking for company. Being a Muslim protects me from loneliness.

  6. "Have you ever felt lonely" … Yes when I was arround people…. These days no more … I just avoid people …. so I'm good thanks …

  7. What a paradox hypocrisy!
    Loneliness is a product of human society that is now being explained on the internet about video games created by mankind in society to make up for loneliness and lack of unity.
    Yuck!!
    🌿

  8. from what she thought was a horrendous and unfair hardship (albeit was Im sure as I have felt her pain and others as well) it drove her to make a game and share it and now so many people have been impacted, helped, inspired, motivated, healed and aware. Crazy how the contrasts, hardships, paradigms, parallels and symbolic stories occur toe shape how things go, how people do things and what becomes manifested/created because of them. S/O to Cornelia!

  9. Tom Hanks was "alone" on the island. Impossible to be alone in modern society, douche bags around every corner >:(

  10. To be honest she created an WONDERFUL idea !! Shearing other people your personal feelings sometimes in anyway you feel comfortable with, it helps them to feel that they aren't not the only one and that they aren't alone it also helps you to feel better about yourself or even about your situation . And that's what's the game is all about . I love it !

  11. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. 6 days into the new year and i am back to my toxic self destructive habits. Loneliness is definitely one of the major drivers for my current mental health situation and i want 2020 to be the year i become more open with people

  12. Habing played this game myself I have to twings to say:
    1. The idea itself it great and the execution is also beautifully done.
    2. However, as a game it is terrible. Controls were so slow and inaccurate I couldn't continu playing after two hours.
    A shame to be honest. It deserved more with it's message

  13. Inspiring story! I love when people are able to things like this. Transform their bad experience in something useful for everyone!

  14. "Have you ever felt lonely?" No, and trying to force me to socialize with others, which is always the case with these "loneliness epidemic" narratives, will only ever result in resistance. The stronger you push this, the stronger I will push back. It's up to you how far we take this.

  15. To be honest… I think the worst advice is to tell someone who has pain to go and 'help someone worse off than you', in hopes that you don't focus so much on yourself. So consequently, you spend a lifetime in constant assistance to others and undoubtedly you lose yourself. There are A LOT of users/predators. Sometimes individuals need to help themselves before they can help others. It's not being selfish, it's empowering yourself so that if you want to help others, you'll have enough in reserve to do so.

  16. Honestly, certain people exhaust me. I refuse to let them back into my life and steal my energy. I won't let toxic people in my life anymore. I may be alone, but I'm not lonely.

  17. You can tell this was something that weighed heavily on her heart for a long time. For her to share this vulnerable part of herself with the world in this specific and creative way is amazing and courageous. I wish I could find a way to imitate people who are like this. Keep up the great and inspiring work.

  18. This is pointless, life is an illusion in which we are living restricted to our psyche's lack of awareness which gives rise to our faith and creates an embellishment of reality's naturality with complete ruthlessness. Life is meant for suffering. Suffering is a higher form of pleasure. One's thoughts is one's curse. We are born alone and we die alone.

  19. "The universe is a cruel uncaring void. The key to being happy isn't the search for meaning; it's to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense and eventually you'll be dead"

  20. ….I feel so much better knowing that I am not the only lonely person. In my school no one is very well behaved in or around my age.

  21. I’m getting mixed messages that this project is sometimes pro-feeling, which I am pretty certain is the real goal. And sometimes the approach seems anti-feeling? Cool scenarios overall 💜

  22. One reason why the majority of so called entertainment (TV, movies, video games etc.) doesn't exist to help humanity evolve beyond so many forms of ancient ignorance such as war, illness, homelessness, dirty politics, crimes, deception, fear, hate, anger, drama etc. is because that's they way that the majority of people like it.
    Maybe at some point within our generation we shall change ourselves first for the betterment of humanity instead of waiting around for it to happen. Since birth we're all being the change that we want to see in the world.

  23. I can't imagine what you have through in life…. Even giving this great presentation is a outstanding accomplishment… How can I find your game"

  24. This can be a start of a new period for humans! To embrace all of your emotions and fears and not only happyness showing through fb, instagram and other "i can make u millionaire" programs but just accept the hard truth!! We are not butiful (ed sheeran) and we should be ourself and accept us being human''' man this goes deep and NOW I understand what my lessons are … ty lonelyness coz of u i came here 💞🌸🙏

  25. If those are truly the reasons that woman feels lonely, she does not understand true loneliness. Being too tired to go out with people is being too tired to go out, and then being bored. Loneliness is feeling that you are not worthy to be with anyone, and because you’re not with anyone it makes it seem true.

  26. I am glad that feminists have made a game to help women understand what it is like to be one of the guys that they ignore, one of the invisible ones that they don't mention when talking about equality. The invisible ones, the male rape victims that outnumber the female ones in the US, the homeless, the ugly, the incels. It effects men most, but it isn't seen because they are effectively invisible and alone. I hope feminists can find a way to understand it.

  27. I know how you feel sometimes, I’ve used philosophy to help me cope with my issues. I found not only was it theraputic but it gave me an intelligent to deal with the struggles in my life and in the long term I was able to help others with some of their issues. I think your artistic approch to not just making a game but expressing your emotions in a way that others can relate to in absolutely brilliant. I hope you continue on your journey.

  28. I literally cannot believe no one named Ted has showed up yet.I'm convinced they banned people named Ted to speak on TED.

  29. I understand her so much, that i want to make deep connection with her, for both of us not to feel lonely) nice speach though

  30. The trailer at E3 got my attention and playing it, I certainly did feel the personal connection. It's nice to hear this passionately coming from her.

  31. Strangely enough Dark Souls was my allegory for struggling and perseverance against all odds. To keep on fighting and not to give in lest you go Hollow

  32. Everyone is lonely to a certain degree. The golden remedy has been out there for a while: All you need is love. True love, not this constant 'I, me, mine' whine: I deserve love and affection but I don't give anything back or sacrifice anything. If you selfishly choose to do only what is important or pleasant to you and you alone, then you'll inevitably end up lonely. If you truly love you still have a chance… no guarantee though…

  33. Cool game! Video games helped me meet good friends who I talk to daily. I use multiplayer or co-op games like a modern day phone call but with us being able to have fun while we talk about life. It's a great way to see how your friends day was while kicking butt digitally.

    She's right about putting the work in to maintain friendships. I make it a point to contact a friend AND a family member every single day. Allow yourself some time to be social. It really helps your mentality

  34. I am lonely……I thought its because I am too good for the world and others dont understand me…….until I found out, I was the bad person of this world, people are afraid of me, so I decided to kill myself, the end.

  35. I enjoy being alone and am a monstrous, creature of darkness, but even I get lonely sometimes, if im alone too much. The problem for me is I usually feel lonely even when im around other people.

  36. Orphans like myself could be helped a lot by something like this. Our problems aren't just divorce, boyfriends and classroom embarrassment.

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