Colorado parents Ryan and Amy Green, have developed That Dragon, Cancer, an interactive videogame experience that documents their five-year-old son, Joel, and his struggle and death from a rare form of paediatric brain tumour called atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour (ATRT).
The immersive, multiple viewpoint game, allows the player to follow Joel and his parents highly emotive journey through diagnosis and treatment. It develops the family’s emotions and reactions to this devastating disease through multi-layered storytelling by using audio clips from Joel’s life and recorded media, as well as highly-stylised artwork.
Distinctly innovative in style, theme and atmosphere, That Dragon, Cancer is continues to receive acclaim since its 12 January launch. Joel was first diagnosed aged just 12 months and died in March 2014.
“You realize ‘I can’t solve this,'” computer programmer Ryan Green told The Wall Street Journal. “As a player that’s jarring. In games you’re used to thinking that if you’re good enough you can solve the puzzle. The thing you learn quickest with cancer is it’s out of my hands. I can love him. I can’t fix him.”
As well as a moving tribute to Joel, Ryan and Amy hope the title will raise international awareness and understanding of brain tumours.
Speaking to The Guardian, Ryan said: “I want this game to have a rollercoaster of emotions. I want it to have funny moments, sad moments, desperate moments because that’s the whole experience. It’s not meant to be preachy – it’s to show you what it’s like and what we’ve experienced.“
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