Video games are the highest form of escapist entertainment I can think of. When the world starts to become overbearing, we can turn on a console and assume the form of somebody else for a few hours. Maybe you’ll journey to the Mushroom Kingdom and save a princess or perhaps you’ll be a soldier battling terrorists. Video games give us the power to control our fates when so often we feel like we’re being strung along by the world.
For some people, though, video games aren’t just a way to escape from our problems, but a way to manifest and confront them. This is the case for Matt Gilgenbach and his upcoming game “The Neverending Nightmares” a game which explores his struggle with mental illness.
Gilgenbach has long endured a battle with OCD and depression. This struggle was intensified last year when Matt suffered a massive defeat. After four years of work and a heavy financial investment Gilgenbach was ready to release his first indie-game. It was called “Retro/Grade” and it was, Matt hoped, to be the start of future career opportunities. Unfortunately, though the game was met with critical praise, it never managed to make a financial splash.
This bitter disappointment fueled Matt’s OCD and depression and it began to proliferate his thoughts with horrible images. Images, that at his lowest, included thoughts of self-mutilation. Justin McElroy on Polygon did an in-depth report on Matt and his struggles and I encourage you to check it out. As someone who knows people with mental illness issues, it’s a chilling and sobering example of how deeply it can affect someone who seems so normal on the surface.
To cope with his struggle, Matt turned his attention once again to the world of video games and is using his own personal feelings and thoughts as a platform for a new psychological horror game that’ll explore the themes of mental illness. Last week Matt released a trailer for the game which features an art style inspired by the macabre work of Edward Gorey. Check it out below and let us know what you think.