Thursday, 14 January 2016

That Dragon, Cancer: Gaming meets art

Some things suck you in. Singing to a catchy song. Slowing down as you pass a car crash. Smiling when someone else smiles.

So it was that I discovered the game that's not a game: That Dragon, Cancer.

Even the name makes me want to know more, yet shudder at the same time. I first heard of it when it was a mere Kickstarter project - the developer, Ryan Green, had shown an early demo of a game based on his son, Joel, who was diagnosed at 12 months old with brain cancer. A film crew had caught on and was funding a documentary on their journey, both in and out of the game.

It was a simple premise: Share your story as a family about what you're going through. Share your child and all their magic with the world before they're gone. Sounds familiar.

When work on the game started, Joel was still alive. His parents were clinging to hope.

Joel would've turned seven the day the game was released, Jan. 12, 2016.

I started reading more. I read some reviews of the game, and they all shared the same feeling of being glad they played it, but unable to assign a traditional rating or score to it. It's art; you point and click through a guided 2-3 hour journey. There's no score and no way to do it wrong, per se.

At first I said I'll support it by buying it, but I don't know if I could ever play it. But like a car accident, I can't help but wonder, see what their journey was like. I'm sure it has many similarities to ours with Dom, but I'm also aware the Greens are much more religious than I am.

The brief glimpses I've had have confirmed that hypothesis. I've watched broadcasts of people playing the first chapter (out of 14), and they're all pretty choked up. Well, except for the one guy. But I think he was on speed.

So I'm going to play it. And I invite you to join me as I play it live, with plenty of Kleenex. Let's say Saturday, Jan. 16, 12 p.m. Mountain time. I'll be live at

I should also mention that our Extra Life campaign for 2016 has begun. Donations can be made at any time by going to OR That's right, Trish is committing to play the 24-hour stream this year too. Actually, it looks like it'll be 25 hours. Game day will be Saturday, Nov. 5-6, which also coincides with the daylight savings time change. We fall back an hour, so to play from 8-8 a.m. you've got to do 25 hours, not 24.

You can also sign up to raise money with our team much easier this time around. Simply go to and click the "Join our Team" link in the middle of the page. We're not putting much emphasis on team goals this year, but I sense some friendly spousal competition building.

Don't feel any pressure to donate yet, as there's lots of time and the Canadian dollar currently sucks, so when you're contributing US dollars through the site they will get charged as a lot more in our currency. But every penny goes to the Alberta Children's Hospital, so it makes no difference to them. I suggest you do the conversion before putting in a number.

1 comment:

  1. I watched the trailer and had tears rolling down my cheek. I'm scared to play through this game.