Playing With Death: 5 Death Positive Games and Activities
Death is a taboo subject in many parts of the world. The death-positive movement seeks to end the taboo by promoting greater openness and discussion about death. By sharing thoughts about death anxiety, people can connect with others and ultimately come closer to conquering their fear of death. While this fear may never be completely vanquished, the journey to death positivity is a worthy one for everybody.
But how to actually start a productive conversation about death? These five games and activities can help the death-hesitant to tap into mortality and learn about end-of-life values.
The Death Deck is a card game intended to spark open conversations about death. Players choose cards with thought-provoking questions intended to challenge their perceptions about death.
If it's death-related, The Death Deck will get you talking about it. Questions range from the deeply personal ("Timing wise, what would be the best way to die?") to the hypothetical ("If given a choice to watch how others grieve you at your funeral, would you?") to the practical ("What kind of griever are you?").
Of course, answering these questions is not mandatory. The Death Deck is meant to be entertaining as much as it is meant to be thought-provoking. Talking about death can be fun and informative, so let The Death Deck guide you through your first death positive discussions with friends and family.
A Mortician's Tale is a video game by Laundry Bear Games. Playing as a mortician, you navigate all the duties of running a funeral home.
Comforting the bereaved, running the crematory, and preparing bodies are all part of the macabre fun! This game was inspired by the life and books of Caitlin Doughty, who founded The Order of the Good Death and popularized the death positivity movement.
A Mortician's Tale "is an informative, honest, and sometimes humorous look at the current state of and the future of the western death industry." Check out this game for some insight into the lives of people who work with death daily.
Everything Dies! is a coloring book for people of all ages who wish to contemplate the life cycles of everything from bacteria to plants to animals and humans.
Learn about the stages of decay, bloat, dry remains, and more as you color various scenes of death. These are the parts of death that many shy away from, but engaging with thoughts of decay, rot, and regrowth can help new death positives embrace all aspects of the life cycle.
Everyone does die. Avoiding thoughts of our bodies returning to the earth does not make us immortal. Nor does it help with death anxiety. The best way to handle uncertainty about mortality is to confront it directly. Coloring vivid scenes of the science of death is another way to sit in discomfort and find a new perspective.
The Graveyard is a video game in which the player explores a graveyard. It's short and even potentially boring for the typical avid gamer — but there's much to learn about life and death from this computer game. The elderly character walks slowly in the simulation, giving the player time to consider the burdens of age.
"You play an old lady who visits a graveyard. You walk around, sit on a bench and listen to a song. It's more like an explorable painting than an actual game. An experiment with poetry and storytelling but without words."
In the free version, there is only visiting the resting place of the dead. In the paid version of The Graveyard, there is the possibility — not a guarantee — that the player will die in the graveyard.
5. BUCKET LIST
Bucket List is another death-positive board game designed to help players understand their values in regard to life and death.
"Bucket List is played like many other board games, although the "board" is actually a piece of fabric wrapped in a soft fabric pouch. Players choose a game piece, roll a set of dice, and land on color-coded circles, each of which requires them to perform an action of some sort. The...game encourages a great deal of conversation as each player answers questions, responds to prompts, shares their thoughts and adds to their "bucket list."
Coming up with a bucket list is a good way to understand your own hopes and dreams. Framing dreams in terms of a bucket list motivates some people to work toward them. The end of life is the ultimate deadline, and this can inspire action for some people. Others aren't interested in the idea of having a formal bucket list. However, playing the Bucket List game is a good way to explore your own ideas and gauge your progression through life and all it has to offer.
Death anxiety is all too common. However, discomfort with aging and mortality is not inevitable. By actively engaging with thoughts of death and decay, we can become more comfortable with life as a full cycle that begins with birth and ends in death. This is the natural order of our world, and accepting it can be incredibly empowering.
Hopefully these games inspire you to explore death positivity and embrace life more fully. Are there any other death-positive games or activities that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!