Making the complex accessible

According to research, the majority (two thirds) of UK teens are either agnostic or atheist. Based on the hypothesis that a person’s understanding of death is guided by their religion, the absence of one suggests that the majority of teens are largely unsupported when trying to make sense of it.

Preloaded was asked to create a game that ‘made death easier to deal with’. The challenge was to develop a positive and engaging way of getting teens to think about these big questions, encouraging debate and the forming of their own views on life and mortality.

The End is a free, online web-game commissioned by Channel 4 Education, and released in August 2011. It is a game of self-discovery for 14-19 year olds which integrates strategy, puzzles and philosophical questions into a world which explores a range of commonly (or less commonly) held views about death, philosophy and science.

Games are a great way to help get young people interested in things and The End is a perfect example of offering engaging tools to grasp quite complex philosophical ideas. ”

The End writer, Tom Chatfield

A personal, but supported journey of discovery

The ambition is to make our players feel less alone in their feelings about death, and orientate them towards suitable philosophical thinking, providing comfort and the opportunity for their own journey of discovery.

This ambition is sits at the heart of the game through The Death Dial, the philosophy mechanic which learns about and reveals our player’s attitudes towards mortality through their play. As the player progresses through the game world, they are asked questions which require a binary response (“Do you think animals fear death?”), and it is these answers that shift the players around The Death Dial’s polar-axis. Moving between four thought-quadrants (Truth Teller, Mystic, Awakener and Crusader) the player’s answers position them in a philosophical landscape of famous thinkers including Mahatma Gandhi, Marie Curie and Ayn Rand. Perhaps most crucially, it shows their position in relation to their Facebook friends.

Set across the three worlds of 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 19 Death Objects, ranging from a ‘Memorial Diamond’ to a ‘Daredevil’s Helmet’, which deepen a player’s contextual knowledge of death and help them progress through the game.

The ambition is to make our players feel less alone in their feelings about death, and orientate them towards suitable philosophical thinking, providing comfort and the opportunity for their own journey of discovery.

Learning outcomes

The End is one 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 benefited from huge word-of-mouth testimonials, relying on the audience and community to seed and share between themselves.

Since launch, over 1 million questions have been answered, showing us that the most popular quadrants were ‘The Awakener’ and ‘The Truth Teller’, and the famous thinker our players were most like was Albert Einstein.

So far we’ve had over 2.8 million levels played, with an average saved game time of over two hours. In total, the game has been played the equivalent of 4658 days – that’s 11 years of non-stop gaming!

11+ years of non-stop gaming

Over 30mins average session time

The questions are great – other games are afraid to ask questions like that, and it makes you think about life instead of just shooting things.”

14-year-old player , 14-year-old player

FITC - Best Game
BIMA - Best Game
FWA - Site of the day

Award recognition

Games for Change - Most Significant Impact
Games for Change - Best Gameplay
Design Week - Interactive Design
Webby - Best Game
BIMA - Educational and Outreach

Nominations

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