At EA’s 2018 E3 Press Conference we got our first proper look at Sea of Solitude, the first game from Jo-Mei games and the newest EA Original title.
According to creative director, Cornelia Geppert, the project is her most personal and artistic, and that she started to write the story when she “felt the loneliest in her life”. Sea of Solitude takes place in a world where humans become monsters because they are too lonely, and Geppert believes that nearly everyone will be able to relate to or remember the feeling of being lonely.
To tackle personal issues in video games is not a new concept. That Dragon, Cancer with the loss of a child. Bound with broken families. The Beginner’s Guide with guilt. Depression Quest with depression. The difference between the aforementioned games and Sea of Solitude is the incredibly specific nature of its topic. Where these “games for change” have, in the past, been able to communicate a personal issue to someone who has not experienced it through the beautiful interactivity of video games. The danger I predict for Sea of Solitude is that it is attempting to tackle arguably the most widely experienced personal issue.
I have never been quiet about my own depression. My own experiences with it are the main reason that I did not like Depression Quest. For me, it felt like they totally missed the point of my experience. I was frustrated, alienated and felt that even amongst sufferers of depression, the people that were to understand my experiences the most, I was the “black sheep” because my depression was not like this.
What I have been quiet about, is my loneliness. A single, 26-year-old guy who lives alone and doesn’t enjoy a large majority of multiplayer experiences means that I can often go entire weekends without speaking. If Sea of Solitude does not accurately represent my loneliness, will I lump it in the same boat (sorry, I had to) with Depression Quest? Or will it have the same effect as The Beginner’s Guide and communicate what I cannot, perfectly.
I do not want to hide from these games. The tragic feeling that all art forms can bring forth is a feeling that cannot be replicated by anything else in this world. I want to experience, empathise and understand what my friends are going through. I want to know what is the right and wrong thing to do in circumstances. However, if those things come at the cost of feeling isolated by something that is aiming to display something that plagues me, I (and I’m certain many others) will give it a miss.
Sea of Solitude is aiming to a tackle a very wide-reaching personal issue. An issue that is incredibly specific and varied from person to person. I am not to say that depression, guilt and loss are not varied from person to person, because of course, they are. But I hope Geppert and her team know the storm that they’re sailing in to.