Teen Game 'The End' Teaches that Death Rides a Pale Horse... On Channel 4 Anyway
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 8th Aug 2011
We are not really sure where the motivation came from for this one, but it seems that Channel 4 has commissioned the creation of a side-scrolling web-based adventure game that is intended to prompt teenagers into confronting death -- seriously! The End is a free, online web-game commissioned by Channel 4 Education which considers what happens at the end of life.
The End, launched on Monday 8th August 2011, is presented as a game of self-discovery for 14-to-19-year-olds which integrates strategy, puzzles, and philosophical questions into a side-scrolling world which explores a range of commonly (or less commonly) held views about death, belief, 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 took a look at the press preview of the game using access provided by Channel 4 and we have to admit this sort of freaked us out... Ignoring for the moment the fact that its target audience is the least likely age group to contemplate death -- after all most teens tend to think they are invincible and, if they even think about death at all, it is not usually from a philosophical POV but from the position that death sucks. We're just saying...
The End is produced by award-winning games studio Preloaded with Tom Chatfield (author of Fun INC), illustrated by Luke Pearson, and includes an original score composed by Phonotheque. Additional consultancy has been provided by Nigel Warburton (creator of the successful Philosophy Bites podcasts).
"It is when people reach this age that they start to engage in thinking about mortality and adulthood and part of that is thinking about death," says The End writer, Tom Chatfield. "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."
"Games can help teens exploring big issues in a safe and fun way," says Phil Stuart, Creative Director of Preloaded. "The power of 'The End' is how it reflects a player's own views and stimulates them to think and discuss issues that arent openly discussed."
"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," says an unnamed 14-year-old school boy from Thomas Tallis School in Blackheath.
We don't know about you mates, but the fact that a 14-year-old thinks about shooting things often enough to include that as a qualifier in his comment about a video game has us good and worried and not planning on visiting Blackheath any time soon!
The End appears to be well-made and interesting side-scroller that incorporates a rather odd approach to dealing with the subject of death -- and while we are not sure just how interested your average teen actually is in the questions we were amused by the Avatar creation tool that you begin with -- and once we created our Avatar -- Studly McBarf -- and walked to the right for a bit we got to see him killed by a flaming meteorite, whereupon he falls down into the darkness, and apparently enters the nether-realms...
Our "Epic Journey" started out like a really bad acid trip, and just went downhill from there -- you will have to actually play the game to see why that was a funny comment...
Anyway, if you are between the ages of 14-and-19 and have an interest in experiencing what Channel 4 wants you to think about death, give this one a go. Otherwise, um, not.
If you are feeling curious you can find The End at www.playtheend.com -- just don't say we didn't warn you.