Today, we are announcing the Playability Initiative at Games for Change. It’s an initiative that has our whole heart because it allows us to focus on the abilities of children like Joel, who may not be able to leap and run and dance and sing, but we know that everything they can do is a precious gift to the people who love them. We are designing a video game for “the one.” The one others may not see. The one that may get brushed aside so we can serve the majority. The one who the shepherd might leave the 99 for. And what if this one can only move a single finger, ever so slightly? Can we imbue meaning and joy and connection to that child’s ability? We can. We just have to be willing to consider them, to see value in their abilities, and believe they are precious enough to warrant our efforts. Because of Joel, we see all of these “ones,” and we don’t think, “what a shame,” we think, “look at them go!”
I am in no way organized when it comes to cataloging which games I own let alone those I have completed. Below is my attempt to create a list of games released within the last decade that I have finished:
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf
- Assassin’s Creed Revelations
- Batman: The Telltale Series (Season 1)
- Bioshock Infinite
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
- Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
- Detroit: Become Human
- Destiny: The Taken King (expansion)
- Destiny 2
- Donut County
- Final Fantasy XV
- Fire Emblem: Awakening
- King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember (Episode 1)
- Kirby Star Allies
- Mass Effect 2
- Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy
- Minecraft: Story Mode (Season 1)
- Monument Valley
- Pokémon Y
- Race the Sun
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Sayonara Wild Hearts
- SteamWorld Dig
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Tales from the Borderlands (all episodes)
- That Dragon, Cancer
- The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
- The Final Station
- The Last of Us Remastered
- The Last of Us: Left Behind (DLC)
- Titanfall 2
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
- West of Loathing
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- Wolfenstein: The New Order
Now, to pick my game of the decade.
I will come out and admit that I do not know much about the Let’s Play culture. How recording a playthrough of a game, with commentary, is somehow legal. Ryan Green of That Dragon, Cancer fame wrote a piece titled “On Let’s Plays“. I’m surprised by the feedback the piece has received. Some gamers seeing it as an attack on their creative rights.
“However, for a short, relatively linear experience like ours, for millions of viewers, Let’s Play recordings of our content satisfy their interest and they never go on to interact with the game in the personal way that we intended for it to be experienced.”
That Dragon, Cancer is a short experience. Maybe an hour and a half to two hours worth of content. Having the entire game ready to view online seems like theft. As would be posting the entirety of a piece of literature to read.
I understand that there are free advertising and entertainment factors to consider. But at what point are such videos infringing upon the rights of the developers/creators?
The film industry would be dropping legal suits like they were hot if this was happening with movies. The television industry, the same. I don’t want a Bill Watterson moment to happen here. A moment where the creator steps away so that his intellectual property’s soul isn’t sold… or in this case, stolen.
Our modern drive for wanting everything free and on demand is going to cost us. I hope that Ryan’s “On Let’s Plays” piece opens up a much needed discussion.
Nelson knocks it out of the park with his piece titled “Christian Games Done Right: That Dragon, Cancer“.
…I want to tackle how I feel this title has been tragically misrepresented by the games media. And as a result, those who might have benefited most from playing it were turned away.
That Dragon, Cancer is not the story of Joel’s tragic death. It’s the story of his life. The difference may seem small, but it is extremely important, because it defines the very way you approach the game.
Tabitha and I experienced That Dragon Cancer together. With Wyatt tucked away in bed for the night, we hooked the laptop up to the television. Light’s dimmed, we entered the world of the Green family. The musical score comforts like a warm blanket. The woods around full of promise and wonder. In this setting we meet the Green’s son, Joel, who is feeding a duck. Joel laughs, a lot. After a transitional time at the playground, we meet the dragon of this story, cancer.
Cancer, represented in jagged distorted shapes of hate. Always lurking like a monster in the night. Howls reverberating as a heartbeat of a sick boy.
That Dragon Cancer is a series of vignettes, brief flashes of hope and dark nightmares. Narrated at times by Ryan and Amy Green, we follow their family on their journey with Joel. Tabitha and I appreciated the depth of honesty in Amy’s comments on doubt. Doubt is normal, she says. A contrast to the modern Church whispering “hush” in such moments.
No matter how dire the situation became. No matter how hard Amy and Ryan prayed, their faith stood out to us. A faith that allows for questions, doubts, and even fears. Media, as a whole, has a hard time portraying faith. The video game medium allows for an unknown level of intimacy. Allowing us to partake, in some small way, in the Green’s suffering. I’m thankful for that.
As the game ended, I found myself in a contemplative mood. That Dragon Cancer reminded me of my need to pray. I prayed for Amy, Ryan, and their family. I fell asleep only to wake up sometime later. Praying over life, direction, and meaning.
I would like to thank Ryan and Amy for being real. For sharing Joel’s life and opening up their family to the world.
Title: That Dragon, Cancer
Developer: Numinous Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, OUYA
Reviews on: PC
*A review copy was provided for this review.
My favorite scene was the telling of the story of Jesus and his disciples on the boat. A storm rises up, everything thinks they are going to die. Where do you think Jesus is? Asleep. The waiting room imagery, of being overwhelmed, contrasted with this story is remarkable. Our stresses, our worries, Christ in control the whole time. Love it.