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!