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May 22, 2019
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Sleepy Time: a music game about depression, ritual, and insomnia

by John Polson on 05/08/14 04:10:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


sleepy time header.gifSleepy Time by Turkish developer Kayabros is a rhythm game about depressed people trying to sleep. The six songs heard playing through the one-button rhythm game tell many a sad tale, but the way each man helps himself go to sleep might be as old as time: by stroking his own ... guitar.

Talha Kaya of Kayabros shared his game about depression and masturbation with me, and at first, I wasn't sure about sharing it here. Was it merely a crude sex joke? We've posted some very adult games in the past, and in the effort to further discussions on adult games, I let Talha share where the game's idea originated.

If you wish to avoid any more spoilers, play Sleepy Time if you want now, or read below to know if it's something you feel you can handle.

Talha said that the basic idea is that the men in Sleepy Time are depressed and can't sleep. "I think there is a pattern in most male's lives where they masturbate if they can't sleep, and it generally helps them sleep. I just thought it was so weird that I decided to make a game about all depressed people on earth masturbating all at once, to sleep."

To clarify, he didn't think the act itself is weird. "What I think is weird is that these guys don't necessarily masturbate because it's fun. It's almost a daily routine they have to do. It may not even be fun."

He says that there is a story in the lyrics, which you can observe on the Sleepy Time OST bandcamp page. From wanting a "Nine to Five" job, to feeling there's "No Hope For You", to recalling the two women you ever cared about (your mom and lover) being gone, the lyrics are truly melancholic. At least for me it felt "weird," to use Talha's word, to have these messages juxtaposed with these guys' nightly rituals.

sleepy time img.pngI asked Talha if he thought about including women in the game, so it wasn't just about guys. He said he didn't know any women who did the deed, but that he has the male perspective. "I actually know some men do it. So it would feel really weird for me to include women, although I considered it when beginning the project." [It feels worth mentioning that online site Gurl reports as facts that masturbation can promote good health and help with sleeping.]

Had Talha done any scientific research into the assertions made in his game, though? "I can't really back it scientifically, although I know some of my friends do it, and I normally don't talk about stuff like this with people. I just feel it's more common than expected because nobody ever talks about it. It's not really a big deal you know? I just thought it was interesting enough to make a game about."

In the end, the game came to life by a scene in his head, "where a lot of guys are masturbating with the same rhythm, creating an awkward harmony. As if it's a holy, important thing to do, you know? The feeling that there are thousands of people on earth right now masturbating in harmony. That's so weird."

Talha didn't stop at that "weird" impulse though. He went and made a game that deals with two adult topics that few indies (or AAAs) have ever incorporated, wrapped in a rhythm game. Playing this along with Talha's Ode to Pixel Days, a narrative platformer about male image, seems to offer a rare and honest glimpse into a male developer's psyche, rather than just his pure fantasy.

[Unsuitable for young audiences nor safe for work: Sleepy Time, support the developer by purchasing the game and OST for $2]

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