A Mortician’s Tale is a Promising Death-Positive Game

Despite all the time we spend thinking about it, death is a difficult subject for many of us to consider. A lot of therapist hours are spent dealing with issues around it, be they fear of loss, fear of our own mortality, or issues that can cause us even more distress, like complicated grief.

The death positive movement aims to be an antidote to some of those issues. Its proponents believe that by embracing mortality and dealing with death in an open, communicative manner, we can do away with some of our fears and live — and die — more comfortably as a result.

Death is a big part of gaming if you consider how many kills we tend to wrack up in our favorite games, but far fewer deal directly with the subject. A Morticians Tale, out today, takes a rare death-positive approach to the subject.

In it, you interact with the world as Charlie, a silent protagonist who works as a mortician at Rose and Daughters Funeral Home. Charlie is responsible for preparing bodies in accordance with their families’ wishes, with all the the challenges that entails. The game deals with difficult subject matter (beyond death itself), including suicide, and explores cultural funeral practices and the way families mourn. It also explores changes within the funeral industry.

VentureBeat recently spoke with Gabby DaRienzo, cofounder of Laundry Bear, the studio creating A Mortician’s Tale. She shared some of her inspirations for the game, including very personal experiences.

“The idea of death positivity is not to erase feelings of grief or loss, but to instead be open to understanding it, and discussing it,” said DaRienzo. “Ultimately being comfortable with talking about death allows us to make informed decisions for both ourselves and our loved ones. About 6 months ago, during the development of the game, I lost my mom to breast cancer. In hindsight, I think the knowledge I learned from all the research we had done previously for A Mortician’s Tale allowed me to support my dad and sister, while also processing my own feelings.”

 
Read more of DaRienzo’s thoughts about death over at VentureBeat.

A Mortician’s Tale is available today on Steam, Humble and itch.io.