Married couple Ryan and Amy Green created something that was previously unheard of, and is still pretty revolutionary: a videogame about cancer.
The story behind That Dragon, Cancer drew national attention around its release in January 2016, revealing a potential emotional core to video games that many thought impossible. The pair began creating the game, based on experience and empathy, when they discovered their one-year-old had brain cancer. They introduced an initial version of the game at a national convention in 2013. Instead of pure heartbreak, That Dragon, Cancer reflects “hope, love, and life,” they told the crowd. Then, their son passed away, and the presumed story of his miraculous healing became a meditation on Joel’s too-short life and the meaning of unanswered prayer.
“It’s not very comfortable Christian art,” said Ryan on Christian gaming podcast Gamechurch. That’s quite an understatement; players get inserted into his and Amy’s conflicts over their son’s illness. And while they’ve managed to finish this particular game with the backing of the Kickstarter community, they’re still not finished with their mission. A documentary on the last days of their son’s life released this year, and fans are eager to see what comes next from their company. “At Numinous Games, we believe we’re created for relationship,” they said in a statement. “We create worlds with our games. We invite the player to love what we’ve created and hope players let that love change them.”