If you had to make a game about depression, what kind of colors and background would you use?

I’m writing up a game about an important time in my life, which ultimately led me to the help I needed when I was slowly descending into madness, quite literally. I have points where depression takes on a voice and becomes a sort of character, commenting on my thoughts and feelings, and affecting the things I do. I’m at a bit of a loss for what colors I should use for the background, and how I can make it look good. Any advice would be appreciated.

monochromatic, that is B&W.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

Especially if the game is about your experience, I reckon you have to pick the colours. How did you see it / feel it? Do that. Maybe give those colours to the depression voice. Practical concerns come later (when is the game using what colour? Is it legible? Is the meaning clear?). Start from the truth of your ideas.

In spite of all the commonalities of depressive experiences, they’re also also highly specific. Having shared that experience myself, I’m more apt to say, ‘That’s not what it was like!’ when some game conveys it to me in a way I don’t relate to… but only if the game isn’t selling its own subjectivity to me.

As an example, a common metaphor for depression is The Black Dog. I don’t relate to that at all for my experience. I don’t even like dogs. But I’m not going to tell someone else who says their experience was exactly like that that it wasn’t. The key for a game going with The Black Dog idea is to sell it from the PC’s perspective so that I (and other less grouchy audience members who aren’t all there with their arms-crossed, like ‘Hmph, I’ve been super-depressed and there were no black dogs involved!’) will go into the PC’s headspace. The power of writing to go into someone else’s head.

Overall, I would say look to the specifics of your experience to get your ideas. Including getting your first ideas about colours.



Thank you for the advice! For some more background, I’m actually writing this for therapy as a means to try and keep myself from feeling alone and depressed. It’s a bit weird, I know.
I actually have a rather unique perspective. I suffer from both Schizophrenia and MDD. It sound’s a bit strange, but depression was a literal voice for me. It wasn’t me telling myself I should kill myself, it was a voice which had the soul purpose of subverting and destroying everything I did, making me feel bad, and pushing me to do horrible things.

At the end of the day, the story is about a romance I had with someone, and how I ultimately destroyed it because of that. Ultimately, the whole situation had a chain reaction which allowed me to get the help I finally needed.

I don’t know how to describe it. I’m just trying to tie it into a large narrative thread which works and that people like. I plan on entering this in the 2020 IFComp. I know choice-based games usually fair better, but my game does qualify as IF. Here’s to hoping.

Sounds ambitious. Good luck!


Any color, all the colors, but desaturated: https://www.schemecolor.com/desaturated-rainbow.php

Conveys what should be joyful, but is now dull and drab.


I paint as a hobby, and can confirm that the brain literally doesn’t process colour as well when you’re depressed, so desaturated colours makes sense for your project.

B&W also makes sense.

However, from my experience, whenever I’ve been on the verge of falling apart, you don’t tend to make logical connections like that. Or if you do, they don’t matter. I’d think “Nothing makes sense at the moment, so trivial things like a background that fits, seems fatuous, and irrelevant”. It would probably actually make things worse for me at that time.

Not sure if it’s possible, but can you let the user decide the colour scheme? That would work for me.

p.s just joined this site, the reply is probably way too old to be useful. But I thought I’d contribute anyway. Good luck!