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Existential video games: Proposal and evaluation of an interactive reflection about death
Authors: Chittaro L., Sioni R.
Published in: Entertainment Computing, 26, May 2018, pp. 59-77.
Abstract: Philosophers and psychologists as well as popular media (novels, theatrical plays, movies) often propose reflections about human mortality. This paper aims at exploring how new media like video games could be used to encourage users to reflect about death, and about the impact of death awareness on their lives. After defining existential video games (EXGs), we propose and evaluate Existence, an EXG that aims to expose users to different attitudes towards death, and to encourage them to reflect about death and their own mortality. We studied the experience elicited by Existence through a qualitative analysis of users’ interviews. Results show that Existence was able to elicit death reflection in participants. Furthermore, the game evoked both negative and positive emotions that, as explained by theories in social psychology, follow directly from mortality awareness and participants’ attempt to cope with fear of death.