Channel 4 Education has a remit to help young people develop life skills and help them on their journey to adulthood, encouraging the debate of moral, philosophical as well as practical issues. One debate we were particularly interested in was the approach to death, belief and science. Many children and teens in the UK have a secular upbringing, which can leave them feeling unsupported when trying to make sense of death outside of a religious viewpoint.
The challenge was to develop a positive and engaging way of getting teens to think about these big questions, encouraging debate and forming their own views.
The End is a game of self-discovery for teens which integrates strategy, puzzles and philosophical questions into a world which explores death, philosophy and science. The game takes the player on a metaphysical journey, recording their interactions in the world to reveal their attitudes towards mortality. These views are presented alongside their friends and some of the most important thinkers of our time, such as Gandhi, Descartes and Einstein.
Set across three worlds - Mind, Body and Spirit - the player must use a unique shadow ‘n’ light mechanic to solve physics-based puzzles, answer questions and battle the world’s Guardians. The ultimate prizes are the Death Objects, ranging from a memorial diamond to a human heart, which deepen a player’s contextual knowledge of death and help them progress through the game.
We worked closely with the eminently knowledgeable Tom Chatfield (author of Fun INC.) who provided great insight into the subject as well taking the role as lead writer. The awesomely talented Luke Pearson was responsible for the character design and level and which makes it as distinctively different visually as it is playable. The original score was composed by Peter Mauder of Phonotheque.
The End is our most ambitious game to date, with a wealth of content coupled with multi-level gameplay and genuinely engaging learning outcomes.
Since launch the game has received an overwhelmingly positive response from both the gaming community and online press. The project has received no marketing budget, simply relying on the audience and community to seed and share between themselves.
So far we've had over 2.8m levels played, with an average saved game time of over 2 hours. In total, the game has been played the equivalent of 4658 days - that's 11 years of non-stop gaming!
The publishing strategy was designed to use the reach of games portals, but to channel players back to the game's vanity URL. Find our more about this approach here and read our detailed post on the project's results here