Open Access

Games and Bereavement

How Video Games Represent Attachment, Loss, and Grief

Sabine Harrer

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Sabine Harrer, Games and Bereavement (2019), transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, ISBN: 9783839444153

Getrackt seit 05/2018


Beschreibung / Abstract

How can videogames portray love and loss? Games and Bereavement answers this question by looking at five videogames and carrying out a participatory design study with grievers. Sabine Harrer highlights possible connections between grief and videogames, arguing that game design may help make difficult personal feelings tangible. After a brief literary review of grief concepts and videogame theory, the book deep-dives into examples of tragic inter-character relationships from videogame history. Building on these examples, the book presents a case study on pregnancy loss as a potential grief experience that can be validated through game design dialogue.


Sabine Harrer (PhD), born in 1984, is a game designer and media artist based in Vienna, Berlin and Copenhagen. As a member of the Copenhagen Game Collective, she has created experimental games and performative play experiences since 2014. Previously, she worked as a lecturer in media and game studies at the University of Vienna and at the IT University of Copenhagen. She was also a research fellow at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In her work, she blends cultural studies and game design to explore the workings of human experience, social power, and modes of intimacy.


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This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (CC BY 4.0)


  • Cover
  • Table of Contents
  • Credits
  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Theory
  • 1.1 Videogame Representation
  • 1.2 Understanding Bereavement
  • Part 2: Analysis
  • 2.1 Of Limit Breaks and Ghost Glitches: Losing Aeris in Final Fantasy VII
  • 2.2 “You Were There”: Losing Yorda in Ico
  • 2.3 Conjugal Love: Losing the Spouse in Passage
  • 2.4 Losing Big Brother in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • 2.5 “Let’s All Be Good Mothers OK”: Losing the Badger Cubs in Shelter
  • 2.6 Designing for Loss and Grief: A Summary
  • Part 3: Design
  • 3.1 Grief-Based Game Design: A Case Study on Pregnancy Loss
  • 3.2 Ideation with the Bereaved: The Trauerspiel Workshop
  • 3.3 Designing Jocoi: A Game about Pregnancy Loss
  • 3.4 On the Question of Impact: Evaluating Jocoi
  • Making Space for Grief: Conclusive Thoughts
  • References

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