got graveyard
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Mourn your favorite Game of Thrones characters in this virtual graveyard

Warning: this story will allude to events up to Episode 5 in Season 6 of Game of Thrones. Featured image is censored because I don’t want to get yelled at on the Internet for spoilers. What is dead may never die. Valar morghulis. Hodor. HBO’s bleak fantasy epic Game of Thrones, based on the book series written by George R. R. Martin, has a number of recurring mottos. All mostly meaning, or leading to, death. The show’s made headlines often for killing off beloved characters in shocking, gut-churning ways. From the tense betrayal in the Red Wedding of Season 3 that offed…

fragmentshim3
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The many faces of grief in Fragments of Him

Content warning: Death, PTSD, graphic imagery I don’t have many memories from when I was eight-years-old. It feels so long ago, and if I try to think back on them now, they tend to blend together. But there’s one night I’ll never forget, even in the smallest details. We had pizza that evening. I got an A+ on my class project that day. My mom had the news on when I got home, and was staring at a routine story about a car accident with the kind of concentration usually reserved for medical breakthroughs and presidential scandals. It was the…

Shadow-of-the-colossus-Cliff
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A landscape of memory; returning to Shadow of the Colossus

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// It’s hard to calculate the distance from the clifftop to the sea below. My body, my eyes, the trembling in my legs tells me it is far, too far. Yet I can make out the marbling of the dark water as the foam traces fractal patterns after every impact. The white spray flash-bulb frozen against grey stone. The glassy shapes traced by swirling currents. These details feel close, painfully close. Perhaps it is the rhythm, the yawning…

Sara and Death
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Philosophical mobile game reimagines Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

Rocco Salvetti might be not your typical videogame maker. After studying philosophy, he decided he wanted a new adventure in IT. “I had a good job, but curiosity took over. I left and started all over,” he said. He moved from Italy to England, finding in London the right place to settle down and to run away from the stillness of small towns: “I need a massive city not to get depressed and it has been four years now, maybe I should consider Tokyo.” It is this hunger for more that describes Sara, Salvetti’s alter ego, and the protagonist of his game Sara and Death. Available…

The First Tree
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A pretty game about a fox will explore how we cope with death in the family

David Wehle is a game designer and recent father now coping with the loss of a loved one. Life and death have been, to put it lightly, on his mind. His upcoming game The First Tree is a personal, painful reckoning with a universal experience. The First Tree is a game with two parallel stories: one follows a fox searching for her lost family, and the other a young couple learning to live with a death in their own family. When asked about his influences, Wehle pointed to games such as Journey (2012), Gone Home (2013), and this year’s Firewatch,…

Death's Life
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Make murder look like an accident in Death’s Life

If you were to rap your knuckles across Death’s wooden door you might expect a black hooded cloak wielding a scythe to welcome you in. This is the most well-known image of Death over here in the contemporary west. But the personification of our greatest fear has a rich history and comes in many forms. In Slavic mythology, a female demon called Marzanna is known to bring death, winter, and nightmares. In East Asian mythology, Yama is the wrathful male god that judges the dead and oversees hell (Spelunky players will be familiar with this). In Latin America, festivals are held to…

Playdead Podcast Header image
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New podcast is dedicated to discussing death and videogames

A new podcast called PlayDead explores the intersection of loss, death anxiety, death positivity, and game mechanics. It’s hosted by Gabby DaRienzo, who openly confesses to being obsessed with “death positivity.” And, in fact, DaRienzo wrote a piece for Kill Screen last year, titled Death Positivity in Videogames, which foreshadows the focus of this podcast in many ways. It’s a podcast that seems to be actively looking to contextualize videogames as yet another artistic medium exploring the theme of death. Even the earliest videogames such as Spacewar! (1962) are predicated on the idea that a game ends when a player dies. Often it’s the case that GAME OVER…

David Bowie - Lazarus
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Blackstar won’t tell you how to die

I spent a lot of time this week listening to “Subterraneans,” the last song on 1977’s Low, by David Bowie. I didn’t know what else to do. Like a lot of other people, I had a feeling—this response to death we all have, with varying degrees of terror and/or sadness attached to it—combined with the uselessness of just being on the internet, looking for something to do. And so we (I) look for more David Bowie, or we (I) listen to more David Bowie, because all of it’s still right there, right where we (I) left it. We sort of…

Orchids to Dusk
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Orchids to Dusk lets you find a quiet place to die

Be warned: This article spoils all the surprise of Orchids to Dusk that is so crucial to the first-time experience, so it’s best played before reading. /// The fallen astronaut in Orchids to Dusk is not eager for adventure. You can see this in their hands, which are timidly held together, head shyly dipped towards them to create a tight prism of safety. It’s a pose familiar to shut-ins and the timorous. How it came to be that this person got as far as becoming an astronaut without the necessary confidence is unknown. Nor does it matter. Everything is ending now. Typically, this…