16/365 – Meditation Games #16 – Anxiety Box

Developer: Zk’

Launcher Quote: “Struggling with anxiety is like having a concrete box around you at all times. Although you know it’s not the right thing to do, you instinctually lock yourself in this “safe haven” with fear of other’s judgment.

The world around you becomes distorted. Every joyful laugh becomes a knife thrusting into your gut.

People who don’t understand this problem can misconstrue your behavior as apathetic and rude, severing even the strongest of relationships and further impacting your mental health.

Depending on how advanced the issue is, getting yourself free from this box can seem impossible, but it’s not. Please seek help when dealing with this, you’re not alone!”

One of the great things about this project is that we get to take a little bit of a peek into the developers on a personal level. For many of the ones I’ve seen so far, the projects they create are very close to them, in some cases a kind of extension of themselves. That means that a lot of the games that I’ve seen are not only reflections of certain significant life events or daily routines but also of their mentality in dealing with those routines. A lot of this leads to some interesting imagery, which is exactly what I saw when playing around with Zk’s entry today.

For people like me who don’t have to deal with anxiety on a regular basis, and who sometimes struggle to understand and help those who do, having it shown to us or described to us in a way that provides it with a bit of tangibility is a bit of a boon. The image of being stuck in a box, struggling to get out of it but ending up hurting yourself trying to do so seems to be an apt image of how the developer struggles with anxiety. The additional display of seeing the baby bird you control lose themselves gradually in doing so was another insight into this. Anxiety has threatened to strip the identity and liveliness out of those who I know have to work with it, and on the worst days it can seen like they’re not the person that you know at all.

But the message about anxiety in this game ends on a bit of a hopeful note. You can eventually get yourself out of the anxiety box, even if it’s through sheer force of will, but being in the box doesn’t seem to show you right away that you’re not alone in dealing with it. There are many people around you who are in boxes much like the one that you might find yourself in, and that kind of shared experience means that you’re ultimately not isolated even though it might seem like you are. Mental health, more at the forefront in recent years than before, is an issue that isn’t supposed to be left in the dark, in a box, for any one person to deal with. To take away the stigma and power surrounding anxiety, depression, and other such conditions, means to admit and accept that they exist, that they don’t make you necessarily weaker, just different in how you deal with things, and most of all, that there are others out there that are going through similar experiences. Drawing strength from that means that an anxiety box will hopefully never have the power to keep you in it.


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