Do you enjoy playing video games? Do you find they’re a fun way to connect with your friends or use your imagination? Perhaps playing a video game helps you escape from the real world for a while?
A recent article by Wired explained that more people of all ages are turning to video games as a safe space to process difficult experiences such as bereavement.
From our research, there are even some video games that can help you cope with pet loss grief.
We’ve put together a list of popular titles for you. Have you played any of these games?
Apart of Me
Apart of Me is a beautiful quest-style game that you can play on your mobile phone (it’s free from both the iOS App Store or Google Play). It was designed by grief experts and young people who have experienced loss.
Explore the island, take on real-world quests, learn things you can do to help you cope and hear other young people talking about grief, all in a calm and safe environment.
Rated suitable for all ages
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a gentle “tend and befriend” style game where you look after an island and meet animal friends in real-time (24 hours on the game is 24 hours in real-life).
One feature of this latest title from the Animal Crossing franchise is that you can buy and craft a tombstone in the game and design your own memorial garden or space for the tombstone to sit in.
As it’s not always possible to have a funeral for a pet, lots of players have a virtual funeral for their loved one and create a memorial space that they can visit within the game.
PEGI 3 (Suitable for all ages)
Journey (exclusively available for the PS4) isn’t a game about grief but many people have said it has helped them to cope. Explore a strange and mysterious desert world with the help of other players. This game is peaceful, uplifting and gives you a beautiful online space to escape or think.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange is an episodic adventure game about characters experiencing loss, death and grief, as well as vibrant life. Although the game hasn’t been directly designed to help players cope with grief, many young people who’ve lost someone they love say this game helped them.
There is some violent content in this game.
The original game in the series is rated PEGI 16. The newest release is PEGI 18.
In Spiritfarer, you play Stella (accompanied by her faithful cat, Daffodil), the ferrymaster who collects the spirits of the dead to take them to the afterlife. As Stella, your job is to help the people who have died to finish the tasks they didn’t complete when they were alive. This is a surprisingly sweet and uplifting game about saying goodbye.
Death and Taxes
Death and Taxes tackles the subject of death head-on with a fair amount of humour. You play the role of the Grim Reaper (Death itself), assigned an office job with the task of deciding who lives and who dies. Every choice you make has consequences.
It may sound like a tough game to play when you’re grieving but the makers say they created it to help people talk about death and their experiences with it, and to make it a less “awkward” topic.
(Graveyard Keeper is a similar type of game).
Rated suitable for teens
In this visually stunning platform and puzzle game, Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities.
Suitable for all ages
Are there any other games that have helped you with your grief?
Playing video games can be a great way to cope with pet loss grief. Many people find it easier to talk – or think – about their feelings in an online space. Maybe it’s because you can do or say things as a game character that can be harder face-to-face.
You may know of other games that tackle the subject of death or allow you to create a memorial for a loved one.
It’s a growing tradition in games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy and Eve to host in-game funerals and memorials for players. This can be a helpful way to go through some of the rites and rituals surrounding death and think about how they can relate to your pet.
If there are any games that have helped you, why not mention them in the comments below to help other young people who are also grieving a pet who has died?
And, remember, you’re not alone.
Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support