We do so many things to avoid considering our own inevitable death: we distract ourselves with films and TV, with reading and studying, with socializing and thrill-seeking. We sleep too much, eat too much, work too much. But avoiding the topic of death (one of the few universal experiences we will all share, no matter who we are) can, in the long run, be a damaging experience. Organisations such as The Order of The Good Death take issue with “the death anxiety and terror of modern culture,” and how a lack of understanding and acceptance can lead to fear, extremities of grief, loneliness, and isolation. Enter Morbid Curiosity, a new death-positive board game launching right now on Kickstarter, that seeks to open up the death taboo to discussion and, hopefully, fun.
The game itself is fairly simple. Players take turns selecting either a black trivia card or white discussion card, and the other players have to answer the question or provide a long-form response. First to answer a trivia question gets a point, as does the player judged to have given the best response to a discussion point.
And that’s pretty much it. The game very much feels like a game of two halves – the black trivia questions are interesting and diverse, and address many issues we’ve all thought about (such as whether or not corpses soil themselves or if it’s legal to mix cremation ash with tattoo ink). Some of them are also a hoot, and had us laughing as we played. For me, though, they are a way to warm people up to the topic so that they are comfortable enough to join in where the game really shines – the discussion questions.
The discussion questions are, for me, what makes Morbid Curiosity a must-buy for anyone with a fear of death or a desire to talk about the subject in a safe, structured way, be they educators, counsellors, parents, or the morbidly curious. Questions such as “Are funerals for the dead or the living?” and “What do you want done with your body?” are great ways to talk about difficult issues, to share your fears and anxieties and to connect with those around you – because we all worry about death, and sharing those worries and seeing that you’re not the only one who carries them can be a very positive experience. This is not a game to spring on anyone by surprise, given the nature of the topics, but is one of the few games I have played where you could be up until the crack of dawn discussing and come away feeling you’ve gotten to know yourself and your friends in a deeper, more meaningful way than before.
I wish this game had been around when I was younger. As someone who spent far too much of my childhood hiding beneath the covers, pretending to be ill, stricken with terror and depression at the thought that death made my life futile, I had no one I could discuss my fears with, nothing to tell me that I wasn’t alone, and if this game had existed I would have had a way of broaching the subject. Morbid Curiosity is a great way to break the taboo surrounding death, and I wish them the best of luck with their Kickstarter. You can find their website here and the Kickstarter itself here.
A preview copy of the game was provided by the creators.