E3 2018: ‘Sea of Solitude’ Announcement Highlights Mental Health in Gaming

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At the EAPlay press conference during E3 2018, the publishing company announced another EA Original game: Sea of Solitude. Developed by the Berlin-based games studio Jo-Mei Sea of Solitude is a third-person exploration-platform-puzzle adventure game that asks the player to explore the emotions associated with loneliness all to save the main character, Kay.

Kay was once a human, transformed into a creature covered in black feathers and with glowing red eyes. This story is about her quest to become the girl she was before the loneliness changed her. As you explore the large abandoned and submerged city you will encounter giant creatures that resemble Kay in visual appearance. However, given the press conference it seems it’s that the biggest threats may come exploring herself and not the monsters swimming beneath the sea.

The game’s creator, Cornelia Geppert explained that the game itself came from a real place of pain, from one of the darkest points in her life,  “At times it is very challenging to dig that deep into your own feelings like core fears, longing and anger, but at the same time it is the most fulfilling thing to express those very feelings by putting it to people through art.” This connection to the material makes the visual striking world of Sea of Solitude grounded in the reality of complex emotions and one that I desperately want to jump into.

In order to solve the mystery of Kay’s transformation you must come to understand her heartache, sadness, and loneliness. The empathy the game will ask from its player in this adventure is one that many can use to understand others but hopefully themselves. Although we don’t know much about the game outside of the heartfelt presentation from Geppert, this game can be another important step in using the narrative and interactive nature of  video games to combat mental illness and the stigmas around it.

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The imagery of the game, most specifically the sharp contrast of the black-feathered Kay against a sea of color and the creature lurking below the surface reminds me of my own struggles with depression and anxiety. Moving through a bright world and remembering who I was before, and living everyday trying to make it back. Everything about this game speaks to me. So much of my recovery from my darkness involved exploring stories of characters and living in worlds that weren’t my own. I am hoping that exploring Kay’s transformation and emotive experience will give me awareness of my own emotions. One of my biggest fears the darkness changing me into a woman I don’t recognize. Although we have to wait for more information on the game, what was shown at E3 was enough to get me both excited to explore this sunken world and Kay’s life.

As a part of the EA Originals slate of games, Sea of Solitude shows that EA is staying the course, which is “finding great new games that we think players are going to love, and working with small developers to make sure those games get discovered and into the hands of players.” I hope that more beautiful and deep Indies get the spotlight from EA.

Sea of Solitude is set to release in early 2019