The relationship of video games and death can be described as a paradoxical one. On the one hand, death is a nearly omnipresent element in so many of them: You kill monsters in adventure games without batting an eyelid. You die in a platformer or shooter, just to respawn at the last checkpoint and take it as granted. Or take games with a permadeath mechanic, which will force you to restart the game after your character died.
But on the other hand, while we as players are pretty comfortable with the acts of killing and dying in games, it seems like there is a partly sociocultural, partly personal barrier of dealing with the reality of death in our beloved medium. When we face a title that wants to educate us about this topic, some of us may react with the old “That is not entertaining and thereby not something I want to play!” bit. It is somewhat understandable, but then we might miss the chance to get a better understanding about this delicate topic and even about ourselves. That is why I want to show you “A Mortician’s Tale” today; a fantastic, death-positive gaming experience, that will teach you about the basics of burials, mourning and human nature.
You play as a newcomer to the funeral business called Charlotte alias Charlie. It is her job to prepare the bodies of recently deceased people according to their last wishes. You will learn how an embalming and a cremation really works, how people differ in their type of mourning, why black is not an universal color for sorrow and much, much more. All these information get passed to you via direct communications with the funeral guests, via email contact with your sister Jen, your co-workers as well as bosses or thanks to the highly recommended newsletters.
As it is is a story-driven game, you will also be the witness of a crucial redevelopment of your workspace. In the beginning, it is a ‘cozy’ family business, but as the economics shift for the worse of it all, a bigger corporation buys the place. Some decisions have to be made, if you do not want your work ethics to go overboard. All in all, I find “A Mortician’s Tale” to fill a niché that should never be blank at all, as it makes an inevitable part of our life more accessible.