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Death: A Conversation Game

A conversation card game that softens the entry point to a difficult dialogue, by starting with small questions, rather than the big ones.

Photo of Cori
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

Having a conversation about your wishes and plans for when you die is one of the most effective ways to help your loved ones through the period of grief. So what could we do to facilitate that dismal conversation? This playful approach brings friends and families together – no matter what age –to have a this all-important dialogue, allowing them to explore their own wishes and needs around death.

This conversation game was developed as part of our movement to Death. The brainchild of Strategic Designer, Virginie Gailing and Mortician Lea Gscheidel, was founded on insights from our ethnographic research

We saw the real power of this approach, when we took our first prototype to a conference in Geneva and witnessed a group of strangers, who had met only minutes before, share intimate stories and personal fears with each other. We saw their discernible catharsis as they ‘thought out loud’. Most of them hadn’t really considered their deaths before and they were actually smiling as they did. It seemed that talking about death and last wishes can not only prepare you on a practical level – it can be truly liberating to accept your mortality and uplifting to share this with other people. And not just when you’re running out of time.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We have tested this game around Europe. It would be interesting to take it to the US and then further afield to see the response it gets.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We'd love to publish the game and iterate based on global feedback.

Tell us about your work experience:

Our movement comprises a diverse bunch of designers, anthropologists, researchers and death industry workers. It shows how fruitful it is to bring in different disciplines: the designer’s toolbox, the anthropologists’ careful observation, the mortician’s daily bread.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm
  • A student collaboration
  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chandra Shekhar

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Photo of Dawn Gross

I love your idea and approach.  In the US, at least 2 card games exist with some research data behind them.  You might find them interesting and helpful for your prototype.

Photo of Cori

Hi Dawn, thanks so much for your comment! Yes, my gift of grace reached out to us! Great to see so much happening across the pond!