A Mortician's Tale: “What would a mortician’s private emails look like?”
October 20, 2017 1:36 PM Subscribe
Video games have never really gotten death.... Death in games is a punishment, a roadblock, a temporary setback, an opportunity. It's not a real end; it's mechanical, never philosophical.... A Mortician's Tale ... takes death—the real thing, that universal human experience of being divorced from all sensation, from existence itself—and handles it in direct, even quotidian ways. It makes the end of life visible, and in doing so crafts one of the only meditations on death in videogames that feels authentic.
A Mortician's Tale (game trailer) is more than a mortuary simulation, it's a narrative-driven death positive video game where you play as a mortician tasked with running a funeral home, doing everything from preparing bodies for burial or cremation to dealing with a large, corporate funeral service and their push to up-sell grieving families. And you see your work to completion, as described by Julie Muncy in her review for Wired (also linked above the break):
After every body prepared, the game brings you to the funeral, where you have a moment to confront the human cost of all of this, to see it and identify with it. A Mortician's Tale insists the player mourn, if only in an abstract, impersonal way.One Of 2017's Best Games Is About Being A Mortician -- Cecilia D'Anastasio reviews the game for Kotaku, with GIF'd screencaps and more plot summary, if you want to know what you might be getting into here.
The great intelligence of A Mortician's Tale is to bind all of this action to the simple structure of a click-based simulation game, in which you do most everything by clicking on the mouse. Games in this style are often browser-based, and compel the player to perform simple, repetitive tasks, either on a schedule or to gain concrete rewards. Here, the clicking emphasizes the mundanity of the mortician's tasks. Here is one of the scariest things in the world, happening in the most casual way. Click the scalpel, make an incision. Drain the blood. Don't forget to wash your hands when you're done.
“What would a mortician’s private emails look like?” is a question I now regret never asking.But it's not a training to become a mortician, as some elements crossed the line in terms of general squeamishness and game ratings, as discussed in an interview with Gabby DaRienzo, the game creator, by Kelsey “Kelso” Eriksson on an episode of her Deathcast program. DaRienzo talks about being influenced by Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, the book by Caitlin Doughty and her Order of the Good Death, as well as friends and colleagues. She's also very interested in death in video games, and made a podcast series to discuss the topic, called Play Dead (Cast).
Gabby also referenced Death & The Maiden aka Dead Maidens, which "[strives] to portray death in its entirety, and encourage our contributors and audience to confront this often challenging topic through science, literature, art, first person narratives, culture, history and current events."
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