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10-22-2017

A Mortician's Tale

My best friend was a funeral director for about seven years. Fun guy, super positive, real people person. Not at all the kind of pale, spooky, ghoul you might picture when I say “funeral director.” Nobody tell him, but he might be the warmest, kindest, goofiest damn person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

The job nearly killed him.

No matter how positive and upbeat you are, the death business is a killer. After seven years of mourning parents, human tragedy, daggers-out office politics, and a workplace culture Gordon Gecko would be proud of, he wasn’t burnt out - he was a smoldering crater. So he quit, full stop, total career change. Left the business and never looked back.

A year ago, my girlfriend changed tracks too. Only she wasn’t running away from the funeral world, she started sprinting headlong into it. She went back to college for funerary services, got her laundry list of immunizations and checks to clear her for working with corpses, and came home with an armload of disgusting text books she delights in sharing with me. There are a lot of reasons for her career change, but fundamentally, she’s a believer in death positivity. A new school of thought that advocates for a cultural shift in how we think and talk about death, one that aims to take away the mystery and fear surrounding death and bring it out of the shadows as it were. She isn’t naive about the job she’s going into, but she wants to do what she can to make it better.

Still, I worry about her.

So here comes A Mortician’s Tale. A game all about the pressures and challenges of working with the dead, featuring a protagonist so very much like my girlfriend, in a situation so very much like the one my best friend found himself in not so long ago. I wanted to know if the game would speak to the reality of working in a funeral home, if it would provide players with a peek behind the curtain to a business that few really understand. A Mortician’s Tale does more than that. It offers not only a view into that world, but a glimpse at a better future for it. 

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