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Green began working on That Dragon, Cancer in November 2012. Joel, who had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer just after his first birthday, was approaching the age of 4. Green and his wife, Amy, lifelong devout Christians, saw this longevity as a miracle; back in November 2010, when Joel developed a new tumor after several rounds of chemotherapy, the doctors had declared him terminal, placed him on palliative care, and given him at most four months to live. The Greens had spent much of the next two years celebrating small victories and enduring crushing setbacks. Tumors that shrank, or even disappeared, then reemerged with greater vigor months later. Steroids that filled Joel with a powerful rage. A tumor that pressed on Joel’s optic nerve, causing his right eye to turn inward.
They wait somberly in line: cosplayers, young women, middle-aged men. They sit in front of the monitor, put on the Bose noise-canceling headphones, and pick up the Xbox controller. Fifteen minutes later they stand and push back from the table. Many of them affect sheepish grins, rise quietly, walk off abruptly without making eye contact. A few get misty-eyed, clearly shaken, collecting themselves before they leave. And then there’s the developer who starts weeping and says, “I don’t want to be here at PAX; I want to be home with my kids.” The couple whose own daughter survived cancer and who have followed the game’s development for years. The boy who staggers away from the screen as if emerging from a particularly punishing roller coaster.
“Are you OK?” Green asks.
“It’s just so sad,” the boy says in a hushed tone, staring off. He wanders away, dazed. A few minutes later he returns to collect the backpack he has inadvertently left behind.
Green’s idea to make a videogame about Joel came to him in church, as he reflected on a harrowing evening a couple of years earlier when Joel was dehydrated and diarrheal, unable to drink anything without vomiting it back up, feverish, howling, and inconsolable, no matter how Green tried to soothe him. He had made a few games since then and had been thinking about mechanics, the rules that govern how a player interacts with and influences the action on the screen. “There’s a process you develop as a parent to keep your child from crying, and that night I couldn’t calm Joel,” Green says. “It made me think, ‘This is like a game where the mechanics are subverted and don’t work.’”
originally posted by: TrueBrit
a reply to: eisegesis
Those who have lived a life already probably do not need to play this. For them, it would be like a mentally devastating run through the Kobayashi Maru test. For those who do not yet know they have been born however? Essential.