‘Well, Knipe, my boy. Now that it’s finished, I just called you in to tell you I think you’ve done a fine job.’ Adolph Knipe stood still in front of Mr Bohlen’s desk. There seemed to be no enthusiasm in him at all. ‘Aren’t you pleased?’ ‘Oh yes, Mr Bohlen.’ ‘Did you see what the papers said this morning?’ ‘No, sir, I didn’t.’ The man behind the desk pulled a folded newspaper towards him, and began to read: ‘The building of the great automatic computing engine, ordered by the government some time ago, is now complete. It is probably the fastest electronic calculating machine in the world today. Its function is to satisfy the ever-increasing need of science, industry, and administration for rapid mathematical calculation which, in the past, by traditional methods, would have been physically impossible, or would have required more time than the problems justified. The speed with which the new engine works, said Mr John Bohlen, head of the firm of electrical engineers mainly responsible for its construction, may be grasped by the fact that it can provide the correct answer in five seconds to a problem that would occupy a mathematician for a month. In three minutes, it can produce a calculation that by hand (if it were possible) would fill half a million sheets of foolscap paper. The automatic computing engine uses pulses of electricity, generated at the rate of a million a second, to solve all calculations that resolve themselves into addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For practical purposes there is no limit to what it can do …’

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Game of the Year

Hmmm……I’m trying to figure out a good way to put this.

Basically here’s what happened: after the launch of Stanley Parable, I became a bit depressed. Largely this is because in those months, SO much attention was directed at the game and at me personally. And while I could not even begin to put into words how utterly grateful and astonished and humbled I am by the enormous response to Stanley Parable (all of you are the reason I can now devote my life to this kind of work), those months after launch were intensely intensely stressful.

People don’t just play your game and then shut up, they’ll come back to you in force and really let you know how it made them feel. The vast majority of the response to stanley was extremely positive, some of it was also extremely negative. I had emails from people who told me I had forever changed the way they saw the world, emails from people who wanted me to know I was a spineless coward who should hate himself, emails from people asking for advice and for tech support and to look at their work and just talk about what they’d been up to, emails from fans and journalists asking over and over and over and over and over where the idea for the game came from, until the answers to those questions simply became stock and lost their meaning and even I began to lose track of where the idea had actually come from. Thousands of people asking you to carry some amount of weight for them, to hear them, to talk to them, to tell them that things are going to be okay, to not turn them away. I tried, I did the best I knew how to do, but after a certain point the many little requests added up and their collective weight broke my back. I couldn’t do it any more. I couldn’t talk to more people. I couldn’t continue to use other peoples’ opinions of myself to feel good about myself and about my work. Every time I turned to someone else’s opinion of the game, I felt less sure of my own opinion of it. I began to forget why I liked the game. I was losing the thing I had created.

So I withdrew. I basically checked out of the world, told people “I’m just gonna be by myself for a while.” I had never done that before. I spent a few months not really talking to anyone. It was lonely, but it was nice.

Then toward the end of 2013, news outlets begin releasing their Game of the Year awards, and Stanley Parable is back in the spotlight. Suddenly the personal requests start flooding back in again. Suddenly I am the object of peoples’ emotional baggage again. The GotY awards did not cause me to be depressed, they simply unearthed a depression I had been harboring and trying to bury since the launch of the game. But for whatever inexplicable reason, I felt depressed and anxious again. (part of what made the depression worse was that being given awards actually did not help me feel any better. “Is something wrong with me??” one tends to ask in a situation like this)

So: to help myself better understand and isolate the feeling of depression around the GotY awards, I wrote and drew a comic to explain what I had been feeling. It was simply the best expression I had for the thoughts and emotions that were running through my head at the time at the time, I just wanted to put it into some words to help make it less nebulous and unknowable. I wanted something I could hold in front of myself and say “This. This is what I am experiencing.” It’s nice to get it out of your head.

So I finished the comic, and read back over it, and thought to myself “There’s no way I can post this online.”

The point of the comic was purely just to clarify that financial and critical success does not simply make your insecurities go away. If you were insecure about other peoples’ opinions of you and addicted to praise in order to feel good about yourself, the dirty truth is that there is no amount of praise you can receive that will make that insecurity goes away. What fire dies when you feed it?

But if I go posting on the internet about how awful I felt receiving all these Game of the Year awards, no one is going to take that seriously. “Oh, yeah, we get it, real rough life you’ve got there. Sounds pretty miserable to be loved for your art. Maybe go cry about it into a pile of money?” And then of course I’m back in the problem I was trying so hard to avoid in the first place, where I’m stressing out about peoples’ opinions of me and forgetting simply to feel good about myself. I want to be able to like myself and my work, but it becomes SIGNIFICANTLY harder once people on the internet start asking you to feel ashamed of yourself. It’s really really hard to ignore.

So either I share this thing that is simply True, that is a representation of what I actually felt at this time, and risk being shamed for it, or I hide it away and continue to pretend that success means you never feel shitty about anything ever again in your life.

I’m going to post it here, but I also decided to write this preamble to contextualize it. If you do decide to read the comic, all I can ask is that you enter into it open-mindedly. You may not agree with or understand my feelings, but I guarantee you they are True, they are what I felt at that time. If you’ve read this and still think to yourself “oh come on, this guy can’t be serious, there’s no way that receiving game of the year awards would cause anyone to feel upset,” then I’d perhaps tell you that it’s unlikely that the rest of this post will convince you, and maybe now would be a good time to stop reading?

Obviously you get to do whatever you want, that’s how this creator/audience thing works, and no matter what happens I’ll be fine. But I want to stress that the weight I have carried is real and it is heavy. And despite my trepidation about posting this online, I really do want to share it with you. I want to be able to show you this weight, to put you in my head. I am compelled to. It is just in my blood. I have no other explanation. Thank you for joining me.



February 21, 2014 by davey 84 comments

84 comments. Add yours!

  1. tiff 8 months ago Reply

    I heard you mention these insecurities briefly in interviews, but wow…
    I just have to say that you’ve put it very well. Thanks for this and everything else.

    • Johna598 3 months ago Reply

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  2. Thomas Gockel 8 months ago Reply

    Take a look at some things that Wil Wheaton writes on his blog, he speaks about depression a little bit and you may not be depressed but insecurity is similar enough. Be well, keep making, do your best even if you think your best is not enough.

  3. David 8 months ago Reply

    Stanley Parable is one of the best games I ever played. You did an amazing job with the demo that can sell the game without being a “free version” or something. I would love to see more games do things like this. As far as GotY awards, I lost all hope in those when a point and click game beat out Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and Assassin’s Creed III.

    I cannot say I know how you feel since I have not experience such success nor do I have a need to receive praise from others. Hopefully you realize that you have made something great and potentially revolutionized the way game demos work. Depression can hit anyone, so stand strong knowing people care about you and your work.

    Wish you the best in your future endeavors.

  4. Feam 8 months ago Reply

    I’m glad you ended up posting this even with all of the hesitation and stress. Thank you.

  5. brittany 8 months ago Reply

    DISCLAIMER: I haven’t played Stanley Parable.

    I have no idea what it’s like to be in the public eye, to be scrutinized to such a degree as you have been scrutinized. But I do know what it’s like to win awards, to be acclaimed, to feel undeserving, to reset my own standards by the voices of others. I know what it’s like to feel despair and self-loathing when my name is absent from an awards list. I know the guilt, the weight of my own narcissism, the struggle to deal with my own irrational expectations. I know what you’re feeling. I hear you. It hurts.

    I’m just a stranger on the internet, but… well, you’re not alone. someone understands, and I just wanted you to know that.

    I hope you can figure out what’s best for you, and then do that thing. I hope you find a way of making peace, and I wish you all the joy and fulfillment that comes with creating things.

    all the best to you.

  6. Phoenix 8 months ago Reply

    The good thing, if there is one at all, you are not alone. Letting go is always the hardest part. Just ask your or every mother out there how she feels about her kids, or an artist that shows his new painting to the public eye.

    It’s the same with ideas, just cause you used your way to express them, gave birth to them, set them free, in a world that’s obscure and unpredictable.

    No need to be depressed at all, cause your very own ideas and their result, your parable, is trying to lecture you something in return. Just cause the, your, ideas are right, even tho it might seem the timing would be wrong, it’s never to early and never to late. You have given birth to a parable, let it go, let it make its way on its own. Keep watching, observing it like every mother and artist that cares does, but give it the chance to grow.

    The concept, the ideas, the questions the parable is asking are good based on its intentions.

  7. mannon 8 months ago Reply

    I like the last image of the hand repeated, only I choose to interpret it as reaching back up to grab the bar again rather than simply an echo of losing the bar in the first place. Not sure if that was intended or not, but either way, that’s the way I look at it.

  8. Mike 8 months ago Reply

    Please take this comment seriously when I say this. This issue of yours is extremely believable and it is addressed really well by novelist Walker Percy, who had his own struggles with creativity and depression, in the book “Lost in the Cosmos.”

    He explains *very well and very clearly* why artists and scientists get depressed. I cannot stress enough that you take some time to sit down and read it. It’s not terribly long. I hope it helps, if you want feel free to mail me and discuss it.

    Best to you.

  9. Iceman 8 months ago Reply

    Jeff Vogel’s article on the stress of being in the public eye from last week seems pertinent:
    http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-indie-developers-go-insane.html

  10. Phoenix 8 months ago Reply

    @mannon: but wouldn’t that mean to stick to something?

    At least for me the one thing about the parable that impressed me the most, was to have a visual, playable representation of a devils circle. The kind of devils circle that makes us believe we could find a solution for everything if we would try just hard enough, running in circles, starting all over again, chasing our own tail.

    Is that really the solution for Stanley, or our representation of him to get out? Or is it our very own decision to simple neglect the fact that we gotta start all over again to repeat, even tho we notice more and more there is no way out. No way out, beside to let go. Is the parable itself really about the outcome? Or about making a decision to follow paths, wondering whether left or right might be right.

    For me the freedom within the parable itself is to ignore all of what we are used to. The freedom is not to make a decision, just cause there is a left or right turn ahead. But to ignore it. The parable ends when you leave it. When you don’t start all over again, when you accept that the freedom you got is to let it go, to leave Stanley alone, stop following him in his world, stop trying to guide him to find his way out. Out of a world that’s made to be a devils circle itself. What makes this world so great for me is that it has a lot of exit points, points to reflect, points that allows everyone to realize, “I am fine how far I came, following the paths of others. But I am going to leave, to make my very own way through the mist of a world that isn’t as predictable as Stanley’s and the circles he is running.” Hopefully, tho! :)

  11. Morbox 8 months ago Reply

    Whoa! Thanks for that insight…I also find it well-put and relatable. People always think that having this and being recognized by those people will definitely make them happy. The whole American Idol mess builds on that. Sure, it’s not wrong either, but what will and will not make you happy is hard to say. Some psychologists say it’s more related to your personality type than to what happens to you. But seriously: What you made was something great and would certainly deserve the title “Game of the Year”. The thing is, I think the best game of 2012 was Spec Ops: The Line, which unfortunately didn’t get the attention it deserved. I think some blockbuster game that actually just did what it was supposed to do won. Anyway, as you say, awards are mostly bullshit. But then, if you look a little closer, you didn’t just produce an awesome game, but also something genre-defying. Well, actually even Medium-defying, in my opinion. I recently had an experience that your comic reminded me of, I got feedback on my final paper, a ~130 pages piece on how it might be useful to apply actual computer games in German classes (native speakers, I’m German ;) ), and the teacher told me that this paper should definitely get published! So, well, I got a lot of praise from him and yeah, sure, that was a morale boost. But it’s not something that gives me great happiness. Well, not a good comparison, but what I wanted to get to was something different: The fact that you and your game were a big inspiration for (and have a largish cameo in) that paper. What I want to say is: You have produced something that really inspires people. That promotes thinking about a medium that could at any moment drift into hollywood lane and then it’s like Rom-Coms, just with CoD-clones. Some people think this has already happened. They’re wrong, in part due to the creative parts of the indie scene. Well, I think your game gave a lot of people some pretty good ideas about the most versatile (and most likely to forget about that fact) medium. Thank you for that! And thanks for creating a VERY citable video game when it comes to didactics!

  12. Damon R. Nagy 8 months ago Reply

    Take care of yourself man. For me, The Stanley Parable (first played as a mod a couple years back) was an awesome conversation about the relationship between agency and narrative – which could extend beyond gaming to a kind of free will vs. determination argument. Blah blah whatever.

    No deconstructions or comparisons necessary, man. You made something powerful. How great it is or isn’t has so much to do with how somebody chooses to engage the content of that conversation, whether they’re interested or not and what camp they live in. But YOU provided the infrastructure for that conversation. It’s a hell of an accomplishment all by itself and you should give yourself a big ol’ hug for it. Not many can say they catalyzed an important conversation in a meaningful way. The games industry, gaming criticism and gaming culture is BETTER because of your contribution.

    As for the conversation itself, you don’t want to keep having it forever (see: caring whether or not GOTY pans out). Find the next thing you care to talk about. Find the next thing that makes your hands happy to be working.

    Good or ill, some folks will speak up. Rest assured that most of us (me, for certain) are just happy to know that you’re out there looking out for your interests and health.

    Cheers.

  13. Mike Grace 8 months ago Reply

    There’s one person who writes about this better than I ever could

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/

    I have loved Stanley Parable since I first played it. And it’s because it captures so many things that I thought were “just me”, and makes me think about things that aren’t.

    People who adore your work can be as scary as people who loathe your work – but they’re all just Stanley’s heading through the left or right door.

    Don’t count how many went left, that would be astronomical. Just smile that more went left than right. Then try and make them go right next time. It’s what the Narrator would do, isn’t it?

    *hug*

  14. kouga 8 months ago Reply
  15. sciencemile 8 months ago Reply

    I purchased TSP quite recently and I appreciate it more the more I play it. I also found entertainment in introducing the game to guest who doesn’t really play videogames that much, just to watch what they would do, what choices they’d make, and how they would feel about certain things relative to me.

    Depression, anxiety, insecurities, these things are indeed a burden to bear; some can go for long periods of time before they just can’t take the weight anymore. Others, like me, can’t even reliably leave the apartment every day. The fact that it took you this long to withdraw with so many eyes on you to me is pretty impressive.

    I just want to say though, what you put into your work shines through, and I really enjoy it. I’m looking forward to whatever else you create. There’s no guarantee it will always live up to what’s come before, but I’m confident that I’ll enjoy it.

  16. Brad O'Hearne 8 months ago Reply

    Thank you for your honesty. I think I’ve been down this road a little further, and have probably lived a few more years, so just a friendly word of advice. What you are dealing with is a struggle that results for deriving your satisfaction and worth from the wrong source. This is a life issue common to everyone and everything — it isn’t specific to gaming, or the development industry, or even industry awards. Whether it is a junior high school kid listening to the snipes of peers, or a game developer listening to the praises of the game industry, it is pure folly to give any of it a meaningful place in your mind. “All glory is fleeting”, and no matter what you produce, or how good you become at your craft, there always is someone out there who is better. Likewise, you can’t let others criticisms of you define you either. At the end of the day, satisfaction derives from within, and there should only ever be one goal for anything you create: put forth an effort such that when you look in the mirror, or stare at the ceiling at night before drifting off to sleep, you know beyond doubt you put to forth an effort to be proud of. Forget the awards, forget the criticisms…..they are meaningless. Just aim to use the talents you’ve been blessed with to the best of your ability.

  17. cholate cake 8 months ago Reply

    I agree that you need cake hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,yes?

  18. iie 8 months ago Reply

    That’s exactly why I stoped myself before sending a mail. I loved the game so munch that I wanted to express all the complex feelings I had when I played it, but I realized how destabilising it would be to read all the different experiences about something that means a lot for you, especially if the reactions are intense (positive or not).

    “What fire dies when you feed it?” is a very accurate metaphor and I think every creators have to deal with this problem about attention. You put the right words on it, thank you for that.

    I’m not going to say “you don’t have to feel like this” or how to deal with all theses things, because feelings are something nobody can control, and it’s perfectly normal to feel the need to express them. All I can say is thanks for your work!

  19. Michał 8 months ago Reply

    I somehow feel that whatever I will write here won’t be sufficent, because I can imagine myself feeling something very similar and not being able to get over it. The only thing i’m quite certain is this: you shouldn’t be ashamed of what you feel. People sometimes feel bad in situations, when society would think that they shouldn’t. As far as I know it is just how human psyche works. Ultimately there will always be someone that is miserable because of more “valid” reasons. But the fact is that You are feeling bad, and there is no reason to… feel bad about feeling bad? Nobody doubts that cancer hidden somewhere inside is better than being shot just because the second is more spectacular. I wish I could express it better…

    I’m also impresed by your courage. By the fact that inside of you there may be something that says “you shoud show them who you really are”. Maby I’m seeking something that just is not in he text, but if it is, I want to know You are a kind of a man that I respect a lot. (of course I have tons of respect for You wven without this)

    I wish You will find happiness and security. Whatever they mean to You.

    P.S. Almost forgot about obligatory part: Stanley Parable (non-HD) geat, Demo great, didn’t play HD, but probably also great. :D

  20. mwb37 8 months ago Reply

    Look at it this way; you’ve contributed something positive to the world, outside of your own circle of social connections. If praise doesn’t bring you happiness, maybe the idea that you’ve likely changed lives for the better will. You’ve also set ideas into motion that will likely inspire the creation of future media, not limited to video games. The game may seem like it’s not as much of a part of you since you released it to the world, but you’re still the creator and source of the game, and nothing can change that. Don’t think of it as giving a piece of yourself up to the world, but as sharing a piece of yourself with the world.

    I like the game for some of the same reasons that I like the movie Groundhog Day. It demonstrates a hypothetical scenario in which the same circumstances are relived over and over again, and how choices made affect the outcome, while also being comical. It has the potential to teach valuable life lessons in ways that couldn’t be done through the real world.

    Groundhog Day is a movie about a man who relives the same day over and over again, but he can choose to spend it differently each time he relives it. It’s a lot like life in some ways, except there aren’t any long term consequences for his actions, and his days are more similar. He tries to find meaning in an existence in which nothing he does ever matters to anyone but himself, and nothing ever changes but himself. I think it would be a pretty good concept for a video game.

  21. Can 8 months ago Reply

    Sounds like you’ve been thinking yourself too highly as awards usually make people feel. Jerry Seinfeld once said all awards are bullshit and he’d rather sit in back row and make fun of the whole thing than receiving the award. But that’s only because he won a lot of awards already and speak this way.

    What you should to be self conscious of is that awards and honors and trolls don’t mean shit unless you give them value. So stop caring so much about your award, your life or the brain soup that you call “yourself”, in the end none of this matters but doing the things you love and having friends and special people around you in life until we all die and be forgotten in the end.

    I think you are someone with a good sense of humor and you’ll probably laugh at how insecure you felt when there’s nothing to worry about. Your fans, your haters or anyone who makes you feel insecure about yourself DO NOT matter unless you let them to get you. How I think my anxiety is like snake that it crawls slowly on you hiding under the hood of blackening self doubt and gets around your neck until you realize you can’t breathe. What I do is that before the snake strangles me, I strangle him back with all the hate I had for myself or my insecurities and simply kill it away.

    You can do it too, if you stop thinking yourself as if you matter. You don’t. No one does. Breathe in and out, and laugh in between. Enjoy.

    And start working on the next damned game already.

  22. Gabriel 8 months ago Reply

    I’m glad you posted this. It’s important for people to be true to themselves, even if it means vulnerability against people that are less inclined to understand other people’s feelings.

    If you don’t go to a therapist, I suggest one, as those tend to help with dealing with these feelings.

    Best wishes.

  23. rkachowski 8 months ago Reply

    that was awesome. thanks for sharing this. i think the only way to deeply feel validated is to not take it from external sources. if i was faced with such overwhelming attention i don’t know if i could manage to keep my head on straight.

    you made an awesome game that really affected me and a huge amount of people. it was never going to be easy.

    you don’t owe anyone anything, you’re not the game you made, stay cool, breathe and go slowly :)

  24. siegebot 8 months ago Reply

    Hey, at least you’re honest. And though i won’t lie and tell that I understand you. If you feel that way there is no reason to not to tall everybody to just get lost and ignore’em until you’re done with w/e problems you have with yourself or community. I wouldn’t be happy as well if people just suddenly flooded my life with their problems.

  25. Alek 8 months ago Reply

    Thank you for being who you are and doing what you are doing. Take care! :-)

  26. Alex 8 months ago Reply

    A very honest insight, thank you for sharing. And much respect for doing so!

  27. Carlos Coronado 8 months ago Reply

    Hi. A friend of mine working at 2k games sent me this. I Said:; “I amb developing. No time to read” Then him said: You should read it. It maybe is your future.

    Me, as you, developed a “game” in source Engine and it was quite succesfull (2 million downloads for a campaign for Left 4 Dead 2, featured campaign, some Valve contacts etc is not bad at all) and I felt exactly the same as you when I finnished it and the positive reaction came. It is like fucking saying goodbye to your child when he leaves home. You expect to be super happy about it and what you get is emptyness… and not just that. To fullfill my emptyness I quickly started to develop a whole new game, make a succesfull crowfunding and that. Soon 2 years will be put on that proyect but let me tell you something I learnt:

    Forget about your succesfull. Succesfull doesn’t make you happy or makes you drink less. It doesn’t make you a better person. Just take the only real prize you have obtained for TSP (the money) and make the lives of those who you care more stable because I am going to tell you this; my only real objective with the game I am making is to pay the mortage of my familia.

    When that is clear for you, then fucking start a new project from scratch. Try to feel again the good feelings of starting to create something from scratch. Make that game REALLY REALLY diferent from TSP and take that fuckin challenge again! We are developpers. We are happy developing, not going to press conference and recieving prizes. If we liked that, then we probably be politicians. Just do some big dick made of DEV textures, put some nasty placeholders into something or to a lot of game jams until you find something you are willing to create again.

    And not just THAT.

    LIVE.

    Get fucking drunk with your friends, disconect from videogames the weekend and fucking do something crazy because those are the stuff that you will remember. I did a roadtrip this summer and I slept on the fucking street sometimes and man, it was amazing. Meet people and other cultures, taste some strange buzz, do something crazy and get you and your friends arrested. It fucking works man! And money and success doesn’t have anything to do with that.

    Hell, I am going to tell you this. I live in Barcelona. Come here one weekend and stay at my home to sleep. I will show you the city and the best pubs and “tapas” restaurants at the city. We wil talk about making games and shit and you will get drunk as hell with me and my friends. We go 50/50 with al the expenses. If you like the experience, you can come with us to “The San Fermines” in pamplona in summer. If you wany probe I am not a killer or something just answer to this or send me an email and we will talk, but I promise you something:

    I understand how you feel and if you come you won’t regret. In exchange, I just want a dick placeholder.

    Greetings from Barcelona you piece of dev!

  28. Martin 2bam 8 months ago Reply

    “Being given an award for your art is like being given the sun…”

    That’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Codex 8 months ago Reply

    I understand (on a smaller level) how you feel – being told all my life I can be anything, do anything, praised for every little thing. When everything comes with a reward, a lack of a reward feels like a punishment. “Why did they congratulate me for this small thing I don’t care about, but then, this achievement I worked so hard for, nobody bats an eye? Is it not good enough?

    Find help, even a friend to talk to, keep going, you do amazing work. I loved the game, and I know I’ll get anything else you make in the future.

    Good luck!

  30. another_one 8 months ago Reply

    My best advice then is to just ignore these responses to this blog post, what we say about your state is irrelevant. How you feel about what we say is potentially damaging.

  31. This post was linked to from

    IGF 2014: aperte le votazioni per il premio del pubblico – Indie Vault

  32. fennesz 8 months ago Reply

    Let me start off by apologizing, because I don’t know you at all, but reading this post and having played your game – I still feel like I recognize exactly where you’re coming from. One human being to another.

    I see a lot of similarities between you and your game, which is why the game was so succesful, but probably also why this is such a hard hit in the stomach. The game was in many ways exactly like this blog post: Self-aware, eloquent, and unforgivingly self-conscious. It’s what gave it so much charm, and it’s also why it spoke so directly to so many of us. Introspection can be tough. Constantly looking inward is like chasing ghosts. You have this moment of certainty, only to find that there is a paradox in your inner narrative. You feel like you know yourself one moment, and the next, it takes a wild turn. Consciousness is an odd phenomenon when it stops to examine itself. You bring everything into question. You’re aware of yourself being aware of yourself being aware, and you’re even aware how hopefully cliché all of that is, and how all of that self-referential stuff is hopelessly post-modern anyway.

    So you treat it as a joke, but really it means a lot to you. So you become heavily invested in all of it, the thoughts, what you have created and so on. And because you’re so invested, you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Stepping back from something else is easy. But you can never really step back from yourself. All you can do is try to breathe once in a while.

    Please do this for me: Grab a chair. Go outside, and sit on the chair. Feel the sun on your face. Feel your breathing. Drink a cup of tea.

    Feel free to send me an e-mail whenever. And if not, please get better!

  33. Invective 8 months ago Reply

    So here is my addition to the essay competition that has developed in the comments:

    Fuck you Davey.
    Sincerely,
    Another idiot.

    P.S. Hang in there. Or don’t.

  34. Neo 8 months ago Reply

    Bleh, opinions, most of the time is better to say nothing.

  35. J 8 months ago Reply

    Jeesus. You did amazing, are doing amazing. dealing with that headfuck will only happen once. try not to listen or respond to the flailing minutiae of the vortex. pair life back to rudimentary states to create fertile grounds. creating similar conditions to when the you last felt the joy of inspiration. Feeding that, the only !actually real, or !actually important thing.
    Just do what you do best.
    Make some more art. get back to the well.
    Transgress / transcend some more paradigms.
    It’s so fucking funny when you do it.
    :>

  36. Jonah 8 months ago Reply

    Maybe give Edmund McMillen a call, I think he went through a similar thing, perhaps talking to a few of your peers out there and getting their take on their own post release struggles might help.

    But, I sympathize with your situation.

    It’s intrinsically a strange feeling to realize that everything is better than it’s been in a long time and yet feel so terrible. Even if everything’s bright, it doesn’t change how you feel and that’s a weird notion internally when you realize it.

    I liken it to being trapped under the shadow of the sun.

  37. Jermaine Tito 8 months ago Reply

    I may have meant no harm, but I played a small part in making you feel this way. So I’d like to sorry, and hope that you find some small spark of peace somewhere, and let it grow into a flame that will keep the darkness at bay. Thank you for sharing such a personal insight into your life, I cannot imagine how hard it must have been. We all feel like we’re so small, but even one person can be a towering and imposing spire. The ease of communication can all too easily turn us into an overwhelming force. I wish love and happiness and security on you.

  38. Taco McGrande 8 months ago Reply

    To start off, I want to make it clear that I do sympathize with your situation. However, I think that there are a lot of people here who are falling all over themselves to try to make you feel better by simply affirming you, and I don’t think that’s doing you any favors.

    Honestly, your comic reeks of narcissism. The awards are all about you. Everyone in that position would feel like you. Papers, Please is about you. The art is about you.

    Now I’m not saying that you’re a bad person, or even inherently a narcissist. But rather warning you that you don’t want to be a narcissist. No one should want to be a narcissist.

    You had to have known that there are people who bought your game as one of the few luxuries they could afford. And you had to have known that those people might have been hurt, offended, or just downright angered to hear this kind of stuff. But you needed the attention again, because, as you say, the awards season is dying down. And clearly the positive attention you got from the game wasn’t giving you the same “high” anymore.

    Yes, posting this will get a lot of nuthuggers to crawl out of the woodwork and pour attention on you like a sweet tooth pours syrup on a pancake. But if you were being fully serious you’d realize that seeking more validation wont help you. The kind of confidence you’re looking for really does come from within. Besides, in the long term this kind of existential drama will lead you to a really bad place.

    You want to feel good about yourself. Go out and work in a soup kitchen. Build homes for the homeless. Do something that you’ll feel good about regardless of whether or not someone else is telling you that you should feel good.

    Good luck.

  39. Tim 8 months ago Reply

    One way to escape the anxiety might be to ignore Stanley as far as possible, and just focus on producing ‘The Thing After Stanley’? A very selfish suggestion, if I’m honest – I just really want to play it, whatever it is.

  40. This post was linked to from

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  41. Davide 8 months ago Reply

    Thanks for sharing, I mean it.
    Respect.
    The comic (and, even more, the preamble) just convinced me to buy the game.
    I was waiting for Steam sales week, but… you deserve it!

    Congrats from a guy who’s VERY similar to you.
    Davide

  42. This post was linked to from

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  43. TiagoTiago 7 months ago Reply

    At least with the money you can afford good mental health treatment :)

    ps: If you take this negatively, please believe me you are wrong about it; the only negative thing in my comment is a subtle critic at the absurd cost of good mental health treatments :)

  44. Simon Tunmore 7 months ago Reply

    I just wanted to pop up and say that this might be the most beautifully frank and honest expression of the inside of a person I have ever read. The comic is beautiful, and not at all tragic – it just very accurately sums up the same craving that all of us have for validation in whatever it is we do. Ultimately it is surely this desire for validation that drives us in the end, and that is where the true masterpieces are created. What you have created is amazing, and whilst it is just a speck on the horizon in the overall scheme of life, you have made a bigger impression on many people’s lives than many of us will ever be lucky enough to make.

    Equally, I agree with many of the other comments here – what you are experiencing is natural; human, but don’t let it rule you. Get busy finding your passion for the next thing and move on – there will always be another tree to climb, but that’s just the way it is, especially if you are someone who craves validation. Eventually the Stanley hype will die down and you’ll just feel empty otherwise.

    I have the very greatest respect for your honesty and candidness, and I wish you the very best of luck with your next project, if you decide to do one. Don’t waste that luck and respect on booze – it’s a tragic waste of a clearly sharp and powerful mind. Get help if you need it and move on.

    Simon

  45. Alexx Kay 7 months ago Reply

    I’ve just started an indie career after years in triple AAA. I’m also dealing with chronic depression and validation issues. It’s helpful to know that I’m not alone. Thank you for posting this.

  46. This post was linked to from

    Davey Wreden & William Pugh: Life After The Stanley Parable | Rock, Paper, Shotgun

  47. This post was linked to from

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  48. screeg 7 months ago Reply

    Wow. I think I might have to check out the Stanley Parable. Good luck to you, sir, in all your endeavors!

  49. This post was linked to from

    Davey Wreden & William Pugh: Life After The Stanley Parable | The Loo Family Blog

  50. Mike Radford 7 months ago Reply

    I can see the point being made here, and while I have no experience of being in the public eye so I can’t say what it’s like first hand, to me this smacks a little too much of self indulgence.

  51. Trevor Barrus 7 months ago Reply

    Thank you for sharing both your comic, and the blog post explaining it. While anyone can anonymously pour their feelings out on the internet, it takes a lot of courage to put your name to it. Particularly when you’re talking about your own challenges and insecurities.

    I totally appreciate that everyone has their own reality. What may be a struggle for you may be a total non-issue for someone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sense of self worth, or if it’s a chemical dependency, or if it’s having a physical “defect” of some type. At the end of the day, it’s the hand you’re dealt. How you play it will be the measure of your success.

    On that note, I can tell you that the best cure I’ve ever found for issues of my own self worth has always been serving others. I hope you also realize that by sharing what you did, you’ve already started that process. You never know who else may read your post, including people who are having the exact same struggle, but don’t have the forum (or eloquence) to put it into words. It’s a beautiful thing when we see the lives we touch through our actions.

    It’s an amazing thing that you and William were a part of. TSP captures a sense of magic that is difficult to put into words, and you’re both fortunate to be the catalysts of that experience. I also felt that sense of “truth” when reading your interview in RSP earlier this evening. John Walker’s article on the relationship between you and William portrayed a sense of honesty that had an impact on me. It led me to your blog post, which led me to what I’m writing right now. So again, thank you both for your game, for your honesty, and for your courage in sharing it all with the rest of us.

    Sincerely,
    Trevor

  52. This post was linked to from

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  55. phoebe 7 months ago Reply

    take a look at how Johnny Depp handles being one of the world’s sexiest guys. He NEVER watches any of the movies he has been in. When the sun burns your eyes, you look away.

  56. Stanley 7 months ago Reply

    tl;dr
    swiggety swoog im comming 4 dat booty
    i didnt choose the swag loyfe the swag loyfe choiced m3

  57. This post was linked to from

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  58. apopheny 7 months ago Reply

    I haven’t played through your game yet. I bought it, but I buy lots of games to keep my other unplayed games company. It looked interesting.

    Anyway, I just want to say that you don’t have to justify your feelings to anybody. A lot of people will ask you to, but none of them will ever know or love you the way that you should, yourself.

    Feeling insecure is really painful. I hope that you won’t have to experience it as frequently in the future. If you work on it, I’m sure that hope will be fulfilled.

  59. Spike 7 months ago Reply

    If true art is an expression of the inner soul?
    and we can define stanley parable as a work of true art?

    If it is, and in my humble opinion it is, then could you not feel insecure about it?

    Still you have yet to chop your own ear of yet, so it can’t be that bad

    When I feel my ego or other egos getting the better of me I focus on star gazing
    in open spaces.

    “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”

  60. This post was linked to from

    For Indie Game Developers, Overnight Success is a Double-Edged Sword – My Blog

  61. Iulian 6 months ago Reply

    Hmm… Davey, you didn’t signed this post explicitly, meaning you are don’t trying to manipulate the market. Thanks.
    You are young. 23 years old when you did the game. Well, how to say (I’m trying to figure out a good way to put this; exactly)? When I was 23 years old, I was shoot to the death, for some kind of freedom on your game. And I was very depressed in seconds to the death. Now I am 47 years old and I am very happy due I played your never-to-be-forgotten game for me.
    When people are young they don’t understand what beautiful things they did and, sometimes, they are going into depression.

  62. crawlkill 6 months ago Reply

    meanwhile, thousands of people who slave on labors of love and fail to achieve either critical or financial success get no platform to talk about how they feel. because no one cares about them.

    I know that widespread acclaim doesn’t equal a sense of self-worth. but there are so many people out there who put just as much effort into projects and get no acclaim at all. it’s hard to sympathize with someone who was immensely successful who wants to tell us all about how hard it is not to win EVERY award when a huge number of devoted creators I love in every medium struggle to fund baseline standards of living.

    yes. financial success does not equal happiness. when you start to exhibit some concern for the many people like you who didn’t have even financial success to bolster their spirits, I might care. do you seriously think that a successful project that doesn’t affirm you by scoring every accolade is a harder experience than an unsuccesful project that plunges you into financial ruin? what voice do the ruined people get? seriously, man.

  63. Solanum nigrum 6 months ago Reply

    The Problem with something you create is like having an child that will never grow.
    You allways want to see it getting all the good in the world… and so you feel in an endless fight with the world and yourself.

  64. Jon 6 months ago Reply

    For me the Stanley parable is one of the most interesting games I have ever got my virtual hands onto.

    If there is anything that calms you. Do it. It could help. Zen might too but. Your choice.

    Get well soon :)

  65. Michael 5 months ago Reply

    Damn. Wishing you the best.

    -Michael (AshaiTides on the Steam forums)

  66. why 5 months ago Reply

    stop congratulating him, that’s what he DOESN’T want!

  67. Allison Hill (@Alli893) 5 months ago Reply

    Please remember something that Wil Wheaton taught me:

    Depression lies.

  68. This post was linked to from

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  69. Andrew 4 months ago Reply

    i doubt you actually read all these comments, but theres a couple sure fire ways to not feel down and depressed. they are very simple..

    1. Get a pet dog, preferably female, and preferably full-bred labrador. after having many different types of dogs over the years ranging from little mexican Chihuahua (or w/e its spelled) to big poodles, the labrador retriever is in a class of its own. They are so caring, emotional, and truly give you the impression this dog really loves you. Females especially. From my own experiences getting a new female puppy labrador to take care of really changed my life and the way I used to look at the world in a sad state of mind. It sounds stupid, but if you’ve tried everthing to get rid of your depressed state of mind, try getting a dog(PUPPY!)

    apart from that, maybe you should try looking into medical marijuana, depending on where you live. Just 1 or 2 hits in the morning can really lighten your mood.

  70. Seth 4 months ago Reply

    I’m not here to priase you. I’m not here to condemn you.

    I’m just here to say that I hope you find what you’re looking for – a sense of peace, or happiness, or self-worth.

    Those are hard things to find sometimes, but don’t quit searching for them.

  71. Anastik 4 months ago Reply

    I find it rather funny that when people have success in life they feel compelled to say that they are humbled by it. I think going by the definition of humility to say that you’re humble makes you not humble. A truly humble person wouldn’t have to broadcast their humility–they’d just be. Secondly, you never hear someone who has just gotten the crap kicked out of them, or who has failed at something say how humbled they are about the experience. But those people, the people who have gotten their dreams stepped on and their teeth kicked in have actually just been humbled.

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  73. Niels Vandamme 3 months ago Reply

    Could be material for your next game. You know, the Stanley Parable has a lot to do with the ego, its search for meaning and validation and belonging which sometimes becomes obsessive and contradictory. When I read this post about how you surfed the net looking for GOTY lists, I see Stanley pushing buttons. Oh the irony. :)

  74. Chiff 2 months ago Reply

    What’s particularly interesting is that an analysis of this type of emotion wouldn’t feel out of place within The Stanley Parable, after all it takes on a philosophical message as well as the more obvious Game Trope Crushing. You already gave us a look inside your head, this is just a bit more of it. :) You’re a natural at evoking thought. Take the fantastic replies to this post as proof.

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  76. Matthew 2 months ago Reply

    Your game looks amazing by the looks of the gameplay by famous youtubers. But unfortunately i cannot play because i do not have a good computer to play it on. I would love to buy the game if you could make a iphone and android version of the game. Of course if you have spare time, with a busy person such as yourself.

  77. Scott Mac 2 months ago Reply

    Being a creator and sharing your sickness allows me to relate to your every word. I animated for a couple years and gained a bit of a fan base. All I ever wanted was a couple fans… Then I got them. All I wanted was 10… Then I got them. All I wanted was 50… Then I got them. All I wanted was 100… You get the idea.

    Nothing allowed me to feel accomplished. Nothing persuaded me that my efforts were worth of the praise I was receiving from people who enjoyed what I did. 100 good things said were brushed aside by 10 bad.

    It sucks in many ways to be haunted as you and I are… But I have asked myself “Would I trade it for normality?”. My answer cannot be yes. I enjoy the peculiarity of my perceptions even at the exhaustion it brings me. It as an acceptable pain to experience who I am.

    So instead of pushing that side of me away… Often I indulge by drawing him nearer. I dive in and sometimes challenge myself to see how long I can make it without coming up from air. May I suggest the movie “Revolver”. It was a very cerebral tale that analyzes all of what we’ve written about. If you are to read this, I would insist.

    As for the game which you created? I shall do the worthless and throw additional praise at you, both of us knowing it is about meaningless, isn’t it? :) Your game is remarkable, amazing, fantastic, revolutionary and many more words of admiration beyond my vocabulary. It is more than a game, it is truly an adventure. Games stopped doing that a long time ago in favor of huge budgets and guns. I praise you with every bit of appreciation I have for this feat, but you can’t take that to the bank because we’re both pretty aware of its worth, aren’t we? :)

    So, where do you go from here? I think if you can possibly enter the same mindset you were in at the time of the first game, you should absolutely do a sequel. Sure, rarely are sequels able to meet the bar the original had raised, but I think with your writing ability, you could do it. With your wit, you could do it. You could defy it.

    Or don’t. Escape. You don’t owe anyone anything. Let it be what it is and be what you are.

    In short, thanks. I appreciated your creation immensely and your blog post just as much. I wish you the best of luck with surviving whilst being you :)

  78. KioneRyn 1 month ago Reply

    I stumbled back into talking about the Stanley Parable today by accident. Happy memories and such, and in doing so I stumbled on to this blog and saw this post and the comic. And I’m glad you posted it, because I could really identify with what you were feeling. A growing feeling of never being good enough, reaching your goals and then immediately setting new ones. It’s a vicious cycle.

    You’re a highly creative and thoughtful person and I can see that through your work. In any case thank you so much for making the Stanley Parable and sharing this.

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  81. EXCITED CONSUMER 2 weeks ago Reply

    Woah! Aren’t I late for the party?

    You’ve likely excised this temporary creative funk by now, but I’d still like to offer a conciliatory word. The aftermath of The Stanley Parable’s critical success would be daunting for anybody. What does the public expect? Do they like the game? Did you succeed? Is the hype just a transient phase and soon they’ll drop the game into the mouth of a volcano?

    More importantly: does it matter? Surprise! It doesn’t. Chasing the elusive Will o’ the Wisp that is public approval won’t satisfy you. Validation is an insatiable hunger!

    The important thing is that you created something. Keep creating, or don’t. Up to you. Do something else, or continue perfecting your artform. It’s all yours.

  82. Karen Dean-Dancis 2 weeks ago Reply

    I always knew you were wonderful, witty and deep, game or no game.

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