To date, most of the games tackling mental health have come from independent makers, which are typically more willing and able to take risks by exploring unusual subject matter. Sea of Solitude points to a shift: a gamble by Electronic Arts, one of the industry’s largest publishers and better known for its Madden football and Battlefield war games, to invest in the topic.

“We were immediately captivated by Connie’s passion and artistic vision for Sea of Solitude, which is unique, beautifully realized and made more powerful by being an important one,” said Rob Letts, general manager of EA Originals, the label focused on publishing independent games.

Some in the industry said the interactive nature of games made them more effective than film or television at dealing with mental health. Embodying a video game character who suffers from depression might leave a deeper impression of the challenges of the illness than simply watching a film about the same character, for example.