Can a Video Game Make You Cry?

There are alThat_dragon_cancer_cover_artl kinds of video games.  Yet normally they are pretty devoid of emotion.  But there is a new genre of games that tries to tap into our most primal feelings.

The best example is That Dragon, Cancer, created by Ryan & Amy Green and Josh Larson, and published by Numinous Games.  (The cover art is at left.) It’s in the style of a point-and-click adventure game, except it’s autobiographical.  The Greens had a son Joel, who at the age of one was diagnosed with an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor and given just a few months to live.  Although Joel was able to prove that grim prognosis wrong, he did die at the age of five in March, 2014.  The game is both a memorial and a way to follow their interactions with Joel during that terrible time.  A companion documentary, Thank You For Playing, records both Joel’s life and the game’s development; it will be released sometime this year.

Anytime anyone is battling a life-threatening illness, there will be high moments and low moments.  The game is a way to experience those moments, the same way his family did,  in a way a movie cannot capture.  And it will bring tears.

The game’s website is at .  There is an excellent analysis of the game on NPR’s April 1, 2016 episode of Science Friday ( ).  And there is a good description at,_Cancer



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