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Gaming and Grieving: Digital Games as Means of Confronting and Coping with Death

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Author:
Beverley Foulks McGuireProfessor of East Asian Religions, Philosophy and Religion Department, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 South College Rd, Wilmington, NC28403-5601, United States of America, mcguireb@uncw.edu

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4133-5830
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Abstract

This paper explores structural similarities between playing a digital game and experiencing grief. The digital game Mandagon evokes a sense of loss through its game environment of grey mountainous landscapes, broken wooden scaffolds, and Tibetan temples and prayer flags in states of disrepair. It elicits feelings of disorientation and dependency as players repeatedly fall from scaffolds but ascend by using lifts or finding air bubble streams underwater. It encompasses terrestrial, corporeal, and cosmic crossings as players move through air, land, and water, as they neither inhabit nor encounter a human body, and they cross various cosmic thresholds through the course of the game. For players struggling with grief, it validates and normalizes feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and vulnerability in the wake of death and loss.

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