that dragon cancer

In times of troubles, artists usually get to work. One father is taking his troubled time and creating a game as he deals with his son’s cancer.

In video games, very generally speaking, there’s a hero, a villain, and you get from Point A to Point B. But in Ryan Green’s That Dragon: Cancer, the equation changes.

Green, a video game developer by trade and a father of four, created That Dragon: Cancer as a way to not only focus his own emotion about his son’s illness, but to help others walk in the shoes of a family dealing with cancer.

Green describes That Dragon: Cancer on the game’s site as “a videogame composed of pain and hope. It is a story of my son. It is a script written day by day. It is life that moves us space by space, propelled by a mystery we call grace.”

That Dragon: Cancer is a point-and-click “game” where you play as Ryan Green inside of the hospital, caring for his son, Joel. As you progress through it, you hear Green’s voice through memories and poems that aim to make sense of someone watching their child battle something doctors say will take their life. Right now, Green has the first of six chapters done and is working on more that take place in his home and the hospital at the time of Joel’s birth.

Though I’ve read in reviews that Green says the game is about hope, it also seems like a really discomforting game – but I suppose that’s the point.

Here’s a great segment from FamilyGamerTV on That Dragon: Cancer:

I’ve read a lot about the game – peruse their “press” page – and have come out of each review crying. That Dragon: Cancer is such an incredibly powerful project and it’s a video game that I don’t think anyone would deny as art.

Fathers all deal with pain in a different way. For some, they bury themselves in work. For some, they focus on their family. For Ryan Green, he’s focused on his art. And hopefully that art will help other families maintain the hope that Green and his family have.