We’ve talked a lot recently about the growth of games as a storytelling medium, and the widening potential to bring more personal thematic content to the interactive space, but no recent example demonstrates this more wholly than Ryan and Amy Green’s That Dragon, Cancer, a Kickstarter for which has just been established.
Described as “an adventure game that acts as a living painting”, That Dragon, Cancer has been created as a tribute to the Greens’ son Joel, who was diagnosed with an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT) and died in March at age four. This “point-and-click adventure game, without the puzzles” has us play as Joel as he journeys through a narrative that so far hasn’t been revealed in any specific form, but the subject matter and impressionistic polygonal look definitely makes for an intriguing-looking game.
The ‘without the puzzles’ comment suggests that this will lean more on the concept and narrative than mechanics, but that concept alone is potentially important. We’ve had games about ‘issues’, but very few have taken such a strongly autobiographical approach, apart from the very well-regarded Papo & Yo. What’s more, the idea of the game acting as a tribute to a person gives That Dragon, Cancer a weight that arguably no other game has possessed, raising the possibility of interactive media not just telling stories, but being able to stand for an individual in a testimonial or even educational sense.
We’ll be watching this one closely as it nears release on Ouya and PC. You can check out the game’s website and Kickstarter page for more information or to back the project.