Owen Bell’s Meditations game is about Bell spreading his mother’s ashes by a waterfall in New York. It is very difficult to explain the feeling that this polygonal depiction of closure brings. It is calming, but saddening. Hopeful, but hopeless. As someone who has never had to spread the ashes of a loved one, I could not completely relate to this game, but it still brought me a handful of emotions and I had to figure out what to do with them.
When you begin the game, you hold the closed box of your mother’s ashes while sitting by a black waterfall in a monochromatic depiction of nature. The bright and beautiful world of nature is diminished to a grayed out collaboration of simplistic shapes. The waterfall pours out black squares, and the rocks around you are smooth and lack detail. The way the setting is presented already sets a gloomy tone as you prepare to put your mother in her final resting place.
Not relating to the game made this moment very confusing to me. I did not know what to do with the emotions that the experience brought to me. I didn’t know whether to feel sad about the darkness of the world or happy that the world was brought down to the emotional level that I was on. One of complete sadness and loss. The world was no longer beautiful as every detail has been sucked out of it. This is similar to how a loss can make you feel.
When you lose someone, your view of the world can change. You begin asking questions about why you exist, or why God, or the lack of one, allows such a dark thing as loss occur. Your days become stressful, the world becomes uninteresting, and the things that used to help you out of stressful situations do not work anymore. This is what the environment in today’s game represented.
The gameplay consists of you clicking to open the box of ashes, and clicking again to pour them into the water. This felt good since you are putting your mother’s remains in the place that she wanted them to be. You are doing one last great deed for your mother; one last sign of love. It provides closure even though the grief will continue for a very long time.
Thinking about death is a hard thing to do. Whether you have grieved or haven’t, it is still a subject that is very difficult to talk about and process. Bell’s game made me ponder about cremation, and how it leads to a moment that is not comparable to any other form of post-death tradition. I never thought about cremation before, as I have only experienced family members and friends having a burial service, and being put in Bell’s shoes at that moment in his life made me realize that a cremation is a loving option, as you get to rest, and your loved ones get to be the ones that carry out your last wish.
Bell’s game was one that my mind wasn’t able to fully process. I did not know what I was feeling at the time, and still can’t fully express all of my feelings with words. You won’t be able to experience this game until next year on 1/15/20, but I encourage you to do so because the words on this page do not even begin to describe the amount of love that went into the creation of this game, or the emotions that emanate from it.