Don’t Go Hollow: How ‚Dark Souls‘ Is Defeating Depression

Image: From Software
Image: From Software
Depression is horrifying.
For many, it feels like nothing, as if some unseen force has stripped away the sufferer’s ability to feel. There is no joy or sadness, no pain or pleasure, just nothing. It feels as if you’re going hollow.

By Matthew Gault|MOTHERBOARD

Dark Souls fans know what that’s like. The Japanese game developed by From Software and released by Bandai Namco in 2011 is a brutal exercise in trial and error. Players control the Chosen Undead, a hero fated to die over and over again as they make their way through a dying kingdom called Lordran, killing Lovecraftian monsters lurking in the dark.

One wrong move can mean a swift death, and when you die in Dark Souls, all the monsters you defeated return. Even worse, the Chosen Undead drops all their unspent experience points and loses a little of their humanity. In Dark Souls, this degenerative state is called being Hollow.

Strange then, that a growing community of gamers credits Dark Souls with helping them cope with depression. A few even say the brutal game saved their life. How can a five year old game famous for its depressing setting and brutal difficulty help people with mental illness?

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