A design student has asked me to look at her game about grief and loss. Does anyone know of any games that deal with similar themes?
James Brown’s game Death’s Door
Wraith the Oblivion although I can’t personally vouch
I will second Wraith: the Oblivion, though it’s more about grief and loss from the other side of things. It’s definitely an useful text for examining how those sorts of topics can be mechanized.
I’ve also published a game, No One Lives Here Anymore, about that topic, drawing from my own lived experiences.
Island in a Sea of Solitude is definitely about grief and loss, and the other three are at the very least adjacent.
Third for Wraith: The Oblivion. One of the key themes in the game is watching loss from the other side, as @Meinberg mentioned, but also in experiencing loss from your own point of view given that you often watch your loved ones move on or stop mourning you. From a mechanical standpoint, this is usually something you don’t want to happen (except in very specific circumstances).
Another Onyx Path/White Wolf game that might help is Orpheus, which had a short run prior to the move from cWoD to nWoD. It is about humans exploring the underworld, for which everyone has their own reasons, but can explore themes of grief.
Not sure if you’re going for a campaign model or a one-shot, but the Seven Wonders game “When the Dark is Gone” in my experience has been effective at exploring the feelings surrounding grief, depression, and loss.
I’ve never played it, but the Sad Mech Jam game Rider’s Last Rites is often mentioned as a game that explores grieving a friend or loved one.
I’ve never played either of these games, but they seem perfect for their thoughtful and deep handling of grief and loss.
A Flower for Mara
And one I have played:
- Heaven’s Collapse
Although grief and loss are not a central theme, they do come up in my game
- A Cool and Lonely Courage
MASHED might possibly fit your bill, since grief and loss can be an important part of the game - and the reasons that the characters need to get a little wild to keep their sanity.
I’d like to point to 90 Minutes by Matteo Turini. It’s for telling stories about a child and a parent’s relationship, in the context of the parent’s suddenly approaching death. While the focus is on the things that happened between the two in the past, it’s all in the context of loss of a chance of reconciliation, understanding, or getting to say something.
EDIT: Oh, just realized I got scooped by @somasatori. At least I provided a link!
The Wait was part of Zine Quest and seems to hit that nail on the head!
My most recent game, Love & Barbed Wire, is a letter-writing game between someone on the front line in WW1 and their lover back home. It engages with some of the themes of grief and loss. An ashcan edition is now available if you want to check it out.
I’ve created a Descended from the Queen game about remembering a lost one and letting go of these memories. In Memory of… is available on the forthedrama website: https://forthedrama.com/games/memoire
I think Fall of Magic hits some notes as you play a crew following a mage in a time when Magic falls away. How will it end? There are theme’s of loss in there for sure, but it’s not very obvious.
I made my own little game about King David Dying for use in religion class. I’ve played it twice now with the 11 year olds, and they seem to like it every year I play it. Wether or not it’s an actual ‘game’ or more of a structured improv theater thing is a big question though. In any case, for the kids it’s better than just reading/listening to teacher. They have more fun, and they get to use their brains creatively in the process
I wouldn’t get too hung up on that question since it applies to almost every ttrpg
Rose Quartz is a good one - you stand around a grave, talking about the departed. It’s really moving and can be pretty intense. https://ladispute.itch.io/rosequartz