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Death is Not a Game: Well, Sometimes It Is

Posted on 11/11/2019

To be honest, we’re not quite sure who thought to themselves, “Hey, you know what would be fun? To create a game about death!” But someone did and it seems to have ignited a wave of groups/individuals who put the “death” in death match. Over the past few years, there has been a surge of games created with the intent to gather people around to laugh, play and have fun as they contemplate on a very serious matter: living and dying. Below is a list of games that will break the ice and make us a little bit more comfortable with talking about what matters most to us through the end of life. While we don’t promote any one game in particular, we encourage you to click through the list and let us know how you plan on using them in your personal life and/or your programming (fees may apply for some of the games).

 

 

Hello Game

Hello is a conversation game. It’s the easy, non-threatening way to start a conversation with your family and friends about what matters most to you. Many groups have organized Hello Game activities and then used our Conversation Starter Kit to help guide them through reflecting on their end-of-life values and wishes.

 

 

 

Heart to Heart Cards

Heart to Heart® Cards are designed to make it easier for a family member, a caregiver, or a health provider to understand what a loved one wants through the end of life. Designed to help reach Chinese-speaking community members, each card is in English and Chinese. However, they can be used by anyone: perfectly healthy individuals who want family members or friends to know what they would like when their lives may be threatened by injury or disease. Each suit of cards represents a special need, with various issues printed on each card. These cards are part of a larger Heart to Heart® Café communication event that many groups are hosting, using our Conversation Starter Kit in Chinese as take-home tools.

 

Death Deck

The Death Deck is a party game that lets you explore a topic we’re all obsessed with but often afraid to discuss. Team up with partners or play in a group – you’ll find out fascinating stuff about each other. Here’s a sample question from the deck (leave your response in the comments below!): You get to relive one day in your life before you die. Which one would it be?

 

 

 

 

Heart 2 Hearts

The Heart2Hearts deck of cards were invented in order to provide 52 conversation starters. You may find that you want to use them to play poker or as a regular deck of cards. Be prepared to have the most meaningful Heart2Hearts conversation of your life.

 

 

Go Wish

Go Wish gives you an easy, even entertaining way to talk about what is most important to you. The cards help you find words to talk about what is important if you were to be living a life that may be shortened by serious illness.

 

 

Now and Then, the board game

Now and Then is a game that guides you and your loved ones on a journey through your past, present, and future. As you roll the dice and explore the board, you’ll discover challenges, some light and fun, others deeper. By the end of the game, you’ll have made all the decisions you needed to get your affairs in order.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive! Choose from the list of games above and invite a few friends over to play some light-hearted games about dying. Have a memorable story to share about your game night? Email us about your experience and share a photo: conversationproject@ihi.org.

Comment below: what are some other games about death/dying that you would like to recommend.

6 Responses

  1. Joan Lane says:

    Thanks for these ideas. I will use the “relive one day” question with my family at Thanksgiving.

  2. rob says:

    And for people who are able to read in Dutch… There are a lot of conversation starters in Holland, like Kaartjes van Betekenis (‘Meaningful Cards’), Heeft de dood een kleur? (with a focus on conversations with children and young people) (‘Does death has a colour?’) and Oog in Oog (Eye to Eye. Let’s talk about if and then). They’re all developed by Bureau MORBidee. Bureau MORBidee also uses beer mats and bookmarks to stimulate conversations about death and dying.

  3. Sonja says:

    Nice to see the different kind of games which helps to talk about life and death.
    There is a special boardgame in dutch: Uitvaartwensenspel (Funeralwishesgame) – posthumously Cathelijne de Vries.
    To talk with other people about your whises around your funeral and theirs. To make people aware of the possibility’s around their funeral.

  4. Here is a game from Canada called Exit Matters that is a combination of reflection/choice prompts, medical/legal definitions and Chance cards – all in a traditional board game format. Depending on what colour you land on determines the action you do or card you pull. You fill in your Exit Matters Menu as you go. How you win the game reflects the process of others (substitute decision makers) who may need to speak on your behalf if you can’t – you get a point for every wish or option you have written down that they can speak of at the end of the game.

  5. Helen says:

    I really like the Elephant in the Rööm cards, which are extremely comprehensive for starting end of life care discussion. http://www.elephant-inthe-room.org/ Topic categories include: People & Places
    Values & Beliefs
    Definitions & Resources
    Complex Care

  6. neil says:

    Great ideas. Heart to Heart looks like the most “gentle” and a good name for it. Hopefully the discussion will also lead to players making a commitment to sort out and log in the locations and contacts for the documents they use to manage their life.
    Then when they are removed due to illness, accident, stroke, death…the family will know where everything is. Check out mylifedirectory.com or everplans.com as two different ways to proceed.

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