The Gospel Coalition’s Chris Casberg wrote a piece titled “‘That Dragon, Cancer’: A Video Game on Death, Grief, and Our Living Hope“. Love his observation on how the experience subverts player agency.
“That Dragon, Cancer” frustrates and subverts the normal expectation of agency. Players are given game-like tasks, like navigating Joel through a field of cancer cells as he clings to a handful of balloons, or racing a wagon through the hospital.
The facade of power and control crumbles away. It’s a brilliant piece of artistry in terms of video game design and theological heft; we players, accustomed to the power to trample our enemies, are shown our impotence in the face of a broken and fallen world. Our works cannot save Joel.
The overall effect is devastating. I cried multiple times, and I even had to stop the game to go hold my infant daughter. I’ve never had a game move me so much.