Oasis – An Experience About the 6 Stages of Grief

Aya Nakamura is a recent graduate, receiving her BFA in Art, Media and Technology from the Parsons School of Design. She is passionate about visual design, including environment design, character design, graphic design, and much more. She loves creating and innovating through the combination of design and technology. For her thesis project, she developed Oasis, an experience about the 6 stages of grief.

Aya wanted to create something that could help people going through grief. She too has experienced a loss. Through this pandemic, her father had to close down Yama, his sushi restaurant on 49th street in NYC. To her, this place was a part of her childhood. Growing up, Aya felt so proud to have a dad who ran an amazing restaurant in such an iconic city. Yama was also her safe haven. She felt comfortable commuting everyday to the city to attend The New School knowing that if she ever needed anything, she could just take the 6 train to her dad. This restaurant that had provided a livelihood for her family for 21 years had to come to an abrupt, jarring end. (By the way, her family is doing fine now! Luckily the original restaurant near Union Square is still in business.)

While she was going through the wavering emotions of grief, she stumbled upon the concept of the “stages of grief” while browsing the internet. After looking into it further and applying it to herself, the concept helped her feel less lost with how to view and process grief.

This is what led her to create Oasis: an experience that provides an informative, meditative, and immersive experience about the 6 stages of grief using a 3D game platform as its medium. A mother-like character guides the player through 6 different environments, each representing the stages of grief introduced by psychiatrist Kübler-Ross. Of course, Oasis is not meant to cure grief altogether. In fact, Kübler-Ross didn’t expect that when she wrote her book, On Death and Dying, about the stages of grief. As Kübler-Ross put it, “It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world.” That’s exactly what Aya felt it did for her and what she hopes it can provide for someone else as well.