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To Fund or Not to Fund: 'That Dragon, Cancer'

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That Dragon Cancer

To Fund or Not to Fund takes a look at new or interesting Kickstarter projects and determines whether they’re worth pledging to or if it’s smarter to save money for the next “next big project” on Kickstarter.

The ProjectThat Dragon, Cancer is an adventure game more concerned with conveying its story and themes than supplying the player with traditional goals and objectives. Dragon tells the story of Joel, an infant and later toddler who battles with the titular dragon, cancer, for four years.

Intrinsic to Dragon‘s story is its creators, Ryan and Amy Green, because Dragon is based on the life of their son, Joel. The couple began developing the game during their third son Joel’s battle with cancer, serving as both an artistic and cathartic release as they cared for him.

During development, Joel ultimately lost his battle with cancer in March 2014. The Greens continued work on the game after his death, hoping to convey their experiences in an interactive way that they believed a film couldn’t quite capture.

The Promise: From a first-person perspective, players will take on the role of Joel’s father, exploring six different locations, interacting with Joel, and coming to understand the pain, hope, and struggles of Joel’s and his parent’s lives. Dragon follows in line with a string of more experiential video games, including Gone Home and Dear EstherDragon wants to convey ideas, emotions, and sensations through its narrative and the scenes that play out in each location. There are simple and easy to understand controls, so just about anyone can play the game.

Pledge?: Yes. Even removing the game’s real-life inspiration from the equation, few games attempt to so directly, if ever, address the struggles of illness and the difficulties of parenthood. Dragon‘s attempt to explore uncharted territory is an admirable enough goal itself. But the deeply personal connection of the game’s creators to the final project only makes the game more intriguing. Dragon now not only stands as a meditation on death and how families struggles with sick loved ones, but it also will now stand as a memorial to Joel. It is a remembrance of him and can act as a similarly cathartic piece of art for anyone playing it who has experienced loss.

Suggested Pledge Tier: $30 nets contributors a copy of the game, as well as the score and a digital poster. From the small snippets provided by the Greens and developer Josh Larson thus far, the game’s soundtrack should be an emotional and evocative score in its entirety and well worth the small bump in price. For those who would like the game to actually memorialize their loved ones as it does for Joel, the $40 tier includes the ability to include a scanned foot or hand print of a loved one in the game’s recovery room location.

That Dragon, Cancer has a goal of $85,000 and, if successful, will launch on PC, Mac, and Ouya in mid-to-late 2015.

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