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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?
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:
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:
Thank you.
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【TED】Cornelia Geppert: A video game that helps us understand loneliness (A video game that helps us understand loneliness | Cornelia Geppert)

27 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on January 7, 2020
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