Hospice is a moving autobiographical game about losing someone you love.
Hospice was developed by Miko Charbonneau, whose grandmother recently had a stroke. “I became one of the over 700,000 family members that have to cope with the uncertain and challenging time after this kind of trauma occurs,” she writes in the description of the game. This game calls upon her experiences going to hospice, “being trapped in a seemingly endless loop, never knowing whether a triumphant recovery or the final goodbye awaited us.”
The game itself is as short or as long as you want or need it to be. You chat with your mother in the car on the way to the hospital. At one point she says of your grandmother, “I have this feeling she’s just going to hear your voice and… wake up.” Once you arrive, you talk to your grandmother, who lays inert in a hospital bed, breathing tubes coming out of her face. You hear the raspy sound of her forced breathing. When you press the ‘talk’ prompt, your character will tell a random story. Remember that time we all went to the Brazilian steakhouse? Would it make you happy if we sat here and played Scrabble? At any point you can lean back from her, or even leave. You, as a player, decide when you’ve had enough.
Hospice is minimalist and short, but it packs a punch. It can feel hard for players to talk to a still image knowing nothing will happen, just as it’s hard to watch someone fade into death, knowing all you can do is watch. Charbonneau said that she made this game in order to process her feelings about her grandmother’s stroke, and it certainly channels her mental state. There’s no grand statement Hospice aims to make, but it speaks to an experience we’ve all had, or will have.