Project proposal: Jennifer Kumer

When My Time Comes

an End-of-Life Conversation Game

How do we prepare to die? Not usually a question we want to spend a lot of time thinking about, and yet, it's incredibly important. It’s often a question not answered until it is too late. This became very real for me with the sudden death of my grandfather. Sitting at his funeral I pondered, “How could this experience have been more thoughtful? How could I have better understood what was important for him before his passing?” This led me to realize, with astonishment, that I would not be able to articulate what my own end-of-life wishes would be, had I had the chance. I grew curious as to why this was the case and how I could tackle it as a design challenge.

After 2-years of research and iterative design, the journey would eventually lead me to create the board game, "When My Time Comes", an applied game that encourages people to explore their end-of-life wishes through advice-gathering and storytelling. Co-developed with and for deathcare professionals, the game aims to facilitate families and communities to have better conversations and plans for the end of life.

Through the collaboration with Mediamatic, “When My Time Comes” would become an immersive, game-based workshop series where participants can explore in a communal and collaborative way, what living and dying well means to them in a personal and meaningful way. 

Enlarge

End Of Life Game Prototype - A little impression of the prototype for the End Of Life Game, where you are invited to talk about your preferences when you die. The game is designed by Jennifer Kumer Photo by Nusha Swan Nusha Swan, Jennifer Kumer

Project description

The project is a workshop series where participants are invited to connect with the topic of death and dying through the “When My Time Comes” board game. “When My Time Comes” is a death-cafe-inspired board game for people who want to involve their loved ones in the process of deciding their legacy and wishes. Playtested and developed alongside deathcare professionals, the game offers a fun, holistic, and interactive way to get families talking about what's important to them. In the workshop series, the game will not be limited to families and loved ones but for anyone interested in the subject as a community-building event. Since thinking about end-of-life wishes can sometimes be abstract and overwhelming, the game offers an ideal entryway for those who appreciate a more structured, communal, and collaborative approach. 

In the game, players answer thought-provoking questions, crowdsource advice from fellow players, reward each other with tokens, and take small steps towards their end-of-life planning both practically and emotionally.

The game consists of:

  • 3 types of cards (Question Cards, Challenge Cards, and Fun Facts)
  • 5 types of tokens (The Consultant, the Caregiver, the Storyteller, the Creative, and the Daring)
  • 6 categories of questions (Care, Body, Treasures, Legacy, Ceremony, and Relationship)

The play experience also offers a direct way for individuals and communities to support one another and by extension, reframe the culture at large from one that is death-denying to one that is death-discussing. Hosting such a workshop series can help make the topic more accessible to a wider audience as well as provide a potential platform for deathcare professionals to connect. For each workshop, there is the opportunity to invite a deathcare professional (death doula, funeral director, estate planner..etc) to be the 'game host'. This can serve as an ice-breaker and a way for people to get to know their local service providers.

Personal introduction

I am a game thinker and design researcher currently studying as a 2nd year Master Design student at Willem de Kooning Academy. For my undergraduate studies, I graduated with a double degree in Sustainable Living and Media & Communications. Originally from Hong Kong, I studied and lived in the US for 10 years before moving to the Netherlands in 2017. Designing games for social change has always been a passion of mine since I was young. I’ve published 2 games and been a part of the development of numerous applied game projects, including most recently, “Beyond Design: the Game of Social Solutions” with Studio Renate Boere (winner of Gold International Design Award 2021). Next to developing my projects, I currently work as an associate for Playspace (playspace.cc) where I occasionally teach and facilitate Game Thinking workshops. Currently, I'm working on the game "When My Time Comes" as my Master's thesis project. 

Estimated costs

The costs are in the range of 1,000 - 2,000 euros based on running the workshop 6 times. Here's the break-down:

- Travel expense - between Rotterdam (my school), Amsterdam (Mediamatic), and Utrecht (where I live) for all 6 events (estimate 200 euros)

- Material cost - print-outs, setting up the space, props, misc. (estimate 200 euros)

- Physical game production cost - 5 - 10 sets for the event (estimate 500 euros) 

- Print cost for the publication of the research behind the game (roughly 60-80 pages) - (estimate 100 - 200 euros) 

- *Optional: Expert compensation (150 euros for each NL-based deathcare professional, if one is invited for each of the 6 workshops, the cost is 150 x 6 = 900 euros)

 

This proposal is part of the 'Penny for your Thoughts' project 2022.