Monday, November 21, 2011

"The End"

I recently came across an educational computer game called "The End".  The game was developed by UK broadcaster Channel 4, specifically their C4 education branch.   Channel 4 commissioned the software developer Preloaded to write the program, geared specifically to 14-19 year olds.  The game also just earned a BIMA Award for "Best Game" this month.

The producer Charles Batho says, "The End sets out to level the playing field, presenting a variety of views about life and mortality from famous thinkers of our time. It's not a non-religious game, just philosophical"

I found it interesting that in designing the game, the producers actually interviewed 14 - 19 year olds, asking them about death, even having them draw out their ideal funeral.

The game starts after you design your own character. In the first moments in suburbia, a meteor falls from the sky and your character is whisked into the afterlife. There are several objectives at hand, as you explore 3 different worlds.  First is to collect "death objects", you do this by playing logic games at the end of each level.  There are also quotes about death and living by famous people interspersed throughout the level.

The level itself is peaceful. The character walks and jumps around collecting stars and light. No worries if you fall off a cliff, your character is already dead, so you get as many re-trys as you want.

A sub theme to this game is self identity. There are yes/no questions in each level that you must answer. These questions are purely personality driven, for example, "Is it possible to be happy simply living in the moment?" and "Would you still be yourself if your mind was put into another body?"

Each question you answer gives a more accurate plotting on something called the Death Dial.  This aligns your personality with other famous thinkers.  These questions then become a conversation piece as those who play the game can ask others what their philosophy is.

The best news- the game is free.  You can play it this moment at

For such a heavy topic the developers did a good job making something approachable, fun, and slipping in a little philosophy as well.

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