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Grief and despair in design

YEAR 2, WEEK 8 - Design inspiration and new ideas

Current thesis thoughts:

perhaps what I want is to share a worldview. not so much teach about how things should or could be but how things are from another perspective?

Reading list:

Wallstreet Journal- I'm sorry I cannot kiss you-By Jennifer Levitz and Paul Berger


While my idea is till to create games that teach and entertain I think I find myself more in the idea of teaching my own perspective. and because I'm "currently going through some heavy shit" grief felt appropriate. my initial thought was that I wanted to create media that helped people cope, or feel better. but what does it mean to feel better? and how I can measure that? truth is as a designer I can't. not if I intend to create something in my shore tenure as a graduate student. But designing with the intent to make others feel better sounds like something. and I went with that. this idea that we create designs as a method of coping actually came from this interesting website. The designer talks a lot about death and loss and implements that in their designs. bit the designs are so personal and speak to their own loss and their feelings of grief. I never once thought about the idea that I myself could be included in the design. it felt too narcissistic to consider myself.

Weeks work:

this is actually the written preamble for my thesis in it's roughest form

Blue needs citations

To grieve one must first accept that something is lost. I was told this by a counselor after my friend had died in 2019. Nobody wants to be told how to mourn I thought, but that was a good place to start as any. I must first accept that I have experienced a loss.

Place in space with anecdotal information, not strong enough for a starting segment.

There must be a good way to dispense Valuable information valuable through narrative. Throught the course of my education at OSU I have gradually come to understand that potent quality of narrative writing in the informational field. In qualitative research and pilot studies, it can be helpful in applying context to data. Or as Wolcott would describe it “the pursuit of theory might similarly provide a narrative thread for weaving the account together.”(p. 88 Wolcott) This thought began to shift my area of inquiry, I’ve begun to ask as I explored my research more in earnest. In the beginning, I was trying to draw the lines between using games as a method of dealing with trauma and pain through the experience of negative stimuli, that of course had possible negative ramifications on my stakeholders, being those who suffered from trauma. As I moved through this idea of using interactive media I found that while it cannot be used as a replacement for mental health care, it can help alleviate things like stress and anxiety. This however is a side effect. It is a method of coping. For some people, the simple act of playing alleviates some negative feelings for others the narrative helps as well. In some people who seek out horror stories, there is the desire to experience bad feelings for the rush of endorphins after. (Use that DR.’s horror ted talk here)

I began to realize what I saw as the benefits in media weren’t so much it’s the ability to heal but it’s the ability to disperse information over a period of time. Could this gradual progression through storytelling be used as a tool to impart useful information as well as a story? The idea is to of making games that draw the lines between concepts seem like a good place to start.

With the unfolding of current events event as they relate to the novel Coronavirus COVID-19, mortality rates have risen. “The national ensemble predicts that a total of 229,000 to 240,000 COVID-19 deaths [in the United States] will be reported by this date. [November 7, 2020.]” (CDC) to live in this time is to know that you might lose someone. This isn’t so drastic a thought to have, even before COVID-19 death is something that is present in our lives and people have a measured way of coping with said loss. However, there is a conversation that is undercut with this pandemic, and that is one isolation. The procedure by which a person dies of COVID-19 is one of isolation. In the article‘I’m Sorry I Can’t Kiss You’—Coronavirus Victims Are Dying Alone by Jennifer Levitz and Paul Berger, a story is recounted of an 83-year-old man gasping for breath as his life draws to an end. His daughter talking about how she wasn’t allowed to be near him. The closest she was to him last was when she had promised him she would be with him as he was rolled into an ambulance. A promise she could not fulfill. This story is not unique from other deaths related to illness, it however is one that currently connected to COVID-19 thanks to visitor restrictions in hospitals to prevent the spread of the virus.(CDC) People in the hospital who die with COVID-19 die alone. Isolated from their loved ones at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control for public safety. I could not hazard to guess the feelings that go through the heads of those people dealing with the death of their loved ones, only what I could read in their recollections of their loss. By their own accounts, they struggle to use words like unfair, and cruel. In these many recollections, it is apparent that closeness, which was so heavily desired near the end could not be achieved and as a result brought the survivors of these losses more grief. (is this too emotional?)

It is in this contextual space that I find myself exploring a possible connection between new media and the ability to help with coping. Games already exist that tackle hard concepts like death, cancer, and loss, as well as mental illness. The game Depression Quest developed by Zoe Quinn in 2013, is an “interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression.” ( the game explores this sort of energy economy that is useful in games. Doing one action expends your player’s energy and may close off some features until you replenish it. In the depression quest, the same is done but with real-life situations. Being with family, loved ones, basic human maintenance. To convert all these aspects of human life to narrative give the player this connection with the character. Games like Journey, developed in 2012 by SEI Santa Monica Studios, takes a more subtle approach, in tackling the concept of death. Telling the singular narrative of a voiceless character progression towards the end of their life, using tools like visuals and music to tell the story without words.

It is in this field of information I saw merit in the possibility of generating Serious games, games that are developed not for the sole purpose of entertainment. They are games usually used in industries like education. So what if games were used to disperse information but as a way of aiding those of us coping with loss. Could games be written in such a way that provide players with connections to healthy coping mechanism? Codifying things like learning the better language to talk to others or ways to develop patience with yourself.

I dont know if this belongs or where

What does it mean to cope from the perspective of a writer or designer? There are many ways to deal with the passing of a loved one. With Freud, he describes Loss as the loss of Ego, an

“aftermath of the loss of love. It comes about when the lost object is internalized into the pain-stricken ego, consequently splitting it apart, dividing it from the inside and rendering the ego itself lost” (Ferber)

And while I do not agree with Freud on a lot of things the meaning behind loss at least as he describes it could be seen as. If you are able to let something in your heart, when you lose it, it takes a bit out of you when it leaves. And coping with that can be hard for some. The words used in this exploration are not meant to be hyperbolic nor perfunctory in understanding the breadth of the work done in by mental health professionals or the people they help. But this is the question that is setting me on my path towards something I had always been thinking of working on.

Everyone experience some level of emotional pain. Is this too big an assertion/ does it need to be said?



I've learned that this is where I want to be, I want to talk about grief and loss. how designs play a roll is that I want to design a game around it allowing players to engage with that grief to walk in mine, perhaps in the goal to resonate with their own.

Media for thesis found/collected this week

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