Kara Stone has recently taken up gardening. Her floral dependents—Echinacea, sage, and geranium—have only yet grown into big sprouts, but she finds the activity a nice change from time spent in front of glowing screens. It’s worth noting Stone recently put in a lot of that kind of time while creating her first video game, MedicationMeditation. It’s also worth noting that she’s planted these seeds in discarded antidepressant bottles.
- Inside the failed, utopian New Games Movement
- Are you weird if you play as the opposite sex?
- Wind Waker, GTA V, and the beauty of the videogame selfie
“When I was making MedicationMeditation,” she says, “it had all of these ideas of focusing in on your body, but I was sitting there zoning out in front of a computer, snapping back into reality five hours later, shoulders up to my ears, dying for a cigarette. No idea what happened, other than that I just ended up with something on my computer.”
Though making it caused momentary negligence of her own, Kara Stone’s game, of sorts, seeks to make players conscious of their own bodies. Flesh-toned, pixilated, and stamped with references to the human form, MedicationMeditation is an unwinnable compilation of activities.
There are five of those activities, at the moment. They deconstruct and recreate rituals familiar to someone living with mental illness. “Breathe” asks you to align yourself with a pair of animated lungs, inhaling as you click down, releasing while you hold. You repeat the process 20 times. In “Take,” a clock spins round and round, and you are tasked with taking a dosage at required times. (Stone says she knows from experience how unpleasant missing this is.)
“Affirm” is, in ways, the most unusually morbid of the lot. Phrases like “Today I did the best I could do” scroll like karaoke verses on to a forearm as scratches; you’re encouraged to read aloud. “Think,” Stone says, was the most daunting in real life: trying to keep tally on the number of ideas that whip by her brain in a minute. “Before I got into meditation,” Stone says, “that first sitting down and listening to how many thoughts your brain, or my brain, has in a minute, noticing all these half thoughts and jumbles, is excruciatingly painful.”