What's It Like for a Parent to Watch a Sick Child Die? Chilling Video Game Shows You

that dragon cancerWhile most video games are adrenaline-infused adventures with guns, dragons, and tons of excitement, one dad has designed a far more serious and personal video game: "That Dragon, Cancer," about his son's terminal illness.


Little Joel Green was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 1 in 2010, and died four years later. His dad, Ryan, a video game developer, decided to create this game to express his grief and preserve memories of his son. In effect, this game puts players in his shoes so they know what it's like to have a terminally ill child.

Watching an early demo of "That Dragon, Cancer" on YouTube, I was struck by how amazingly mundane and, well, real it felt. We assume the role of the dad, sitting in the hospital trying to make his son stop crying, only he can't -- there's no button to push or candy to give him to make him stop. It makes you feel helpless, as any parent would in this situation.

Yet the game also allows you to linger on the good moments, too -- like pushing Joel on a swing and hearing him laugh.

More from The Stir: Mom Discovers Her Toddler Has Cancer By Taking His Photo – Can You See It Too?

News of this family's plight has resulted in a documentary film, Thank You For Playing, and you can also support this dad's project financially at their family site, That Dragon, Cancer. It's just so sad and sweet to see this dad's tribute to his son, which he has elaborated on below:

"I want the game to capture the way Joel danced," Ryan said. "The way he laughed. The way his brothers treated one another. The affection they have. I want to put those things in the game. He was the sweetest kid. I hope to capture some of that, something of who he was and is. In the end, I guess my greatest hope is pretty simple: that players might care about my son the way that I do."

Check out an interview with Ryan and more about his touching tribute to his son below.


Image via FamilyGamerTV/YouTube

Read More >