This thesis examines the unique representation of death in independent videogames. Specifically, in three titles: That Dragon, Cancer, Spiritfarer, and A Mortician's Tale. These three games break traditional norms of death in video games and how death is presented in other more traditional mediums. These unique perspectives are more concerned with the personal and societal side of death, the reflection, and confrontation of our mortality. Each game is a stand-out example of a growing trend in independent titles coined as "death positive" games. These types of games are made with the intent to approach death differently, potentially providing comfort to those struggling with death fear and anxiety. Through a close play of each game, analyzing their developer's design intentions and how they were received by audiences, I am to illustrate how independent games have become an ideal space to confront and manage death fear and anxiety. This is achieved through their unique ability to occupy a moment in ludic space and time, where a player can rest, reflect, and give up – an experience I call meaningful death reflection. This thesis offers a meaningful look at a potentially growing trend in various forms of media to present the topic of death in new contexts, distancing itself from traditional presentations in mainstream Western media. This trend would appear to be filling an audience's desire to engage with content that allows them the opportunity to think about their mortality in new ways.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Games and Interactive Media
Digital Media; Visual Language and Interactive Media
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Boyd, Alexander, "Representation of Death in Independent Videogames: Providing a Space for Meaningful Death Reflection" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 476.