‘That Dragon, Cancer’ by Numinous Games

Ryan Green’s infant son, Joel, is dying from cancer. A developer of apps and indie-games by trade, Ryan and his wife Amy have chosen to tackle their active sorrow head-on by creating a game about their son’s life and suffering. Initially funded by a successful KickStarter campaign, the game launched on 12 January 2016. The painful honesty of this project has made it stand out amongst other gaming experiences. I would go so far as to argue it has more in common with the animated documentaries covered on this blog than with the conventional gaming market.

green_drip

I first heard about That Dragon, Cancer on the Reply All podcast. Further investigation revealed an enormous amount of online media coverage. Wired Magazine has published an extract from the first scene that Ryan conceived, viewable at this link. It is a close reconstruction of a terrible night Ryan spent with Joel. He was forced to accept his limited ability to help his son. From this came the idea of a gaming experience where the player is not necessarily granted influence over the outcomes in the story. The significant absence of control leaves the player with no option other than to accept their fate, and that of Joel.

drowning

Christianity strongly influences the Green family’s perspectives regarding Joel’s plight. The game is very much rooted in the tension first articulated in the Book of Job. In essence this ancient text asks why do the innocent suffer? The world being Godless, might seem to be a conceivable answer to a bourgeois atheist like myself, but it is clear that the Green family’s faith and prayers are vital tools that are helping them through this ongoing tragedy.

joel_ipad

From an outsider’s perspective, I would argue that there is something more tangible than prayer helping this family; the power of catharsis. This game is the method chosen by Amy and Ryan to address their pain. Every ounce of personal tragedy evident in the game play, is suffering that they are not going through alone; suffering that they have had to pick apart and understand in order to make it communicable to others. I cannot begin to understand what it would be like to watch your child battle with cancer for three years, but this game is the best that Ryan and Amy Green could do to show me.

That Dragon, Cancer is available for purchase and download here.

‘Silent Signal’ work in progress website by Animate! Projects

IMG_4903_2

Image by Samantha Moore for Silent Signal.

Animate! projects with the Wellcome Trust has commissioned six artist/scientist teams to put forward ideas for possible animated works under a project called Silent Signal.

“Silent Signal explores how research into genetics, cell biology, immunology and epidemiology is advancing our understanding of how the human body communicates with itself, how it adapts to fight disease and how environment affects the chain reaction. Six biomedical scientists who are furthering these fields with cutting-edge research are collaborating with six artists who use a variety of animation techniques and new digital technologies in their artistic practice. Through these collaborations audiences will be engaged with the biological processes that their bodies perform with an artistic approach to communicating the science.”

They have published the process on their blog http://www.silentsignal.org/, which is a fascinating insight into the collaborative relationship between the scientists and artists. The site also shows work in progress of various applications of animation  from animated documentary, participatory animated documentary, game art through to interactive experiences using animation.

http://www.silentsignal.org/

http://www.animateprojects.org/

 

Call for applications to DOK Leipzig’s Net Lab

“An inspirational conference lab on the current trends of new media providing access to new information, intense networking and individual support for transmedia projects linked to documentary or animation.

Friday & Saturday, 1 & 2 November 2013

The DOK Leipzig Net Lab 2013 is a two part conference lab open for transmedia creatives, thinkers and makers. It offers intense individual support for your cross-media project, with an in-depth look at interactive storytelling and media architecture.

Film-makers, media professionals and transmedia creatives are invited to apply with their multi-platform projects linked to documentary and/or animated film. Up to eight projects will be selected from all applications and the head producer and two team members are invited to participate.

Deadline for project entries: AUGUST 18, 2013

Filmmakers, media professionals and transmedia enthusiasts without a project are also welcome to attend. Please apply till: SEPTEMBER 18, 2013.

We offer participants with and without projects new insights and inspirations on transmedia storytelling and production and provide a platform to exchange, network and join forces with experienced colleagues and media professionals.

Costs:
Participation fee with project (day 1 and 2): 250 € per project incl. 7% VAT and one festival accreditation amounting to 80 €.

Participantion fee without project (day 1): 120 € per person incl. 7% VAT and one festival accreditation amounting to 80 €.”

More info at: http://www.dok-leipzig.de/industry-training/training/dok-leipzig-net-lab

Future Documentary Sandbox – UK interactive doc scheme

Future Doc Sandbox website

An interesting new scheme which partners academics with creative companies to develop new documentary ideas:

‘Future Documentary Sandbox will ask how can we hold on to what is great about documentary – its ability to elicit empathy, impart wisdom and inspire change – whilst exploring the new forms that are enabled by the internet, mobile phones and changing audience behaviours.

A Future Documentary Sandbox project might be interactive or responsive to the environment that people engaging with it are in.

It might harness games mechanics to help people ‘discover’ content.
It might use second screen technologies or create new experiences with pervasive and locative media.
It might combine new ways of navigating content with live data.
It might explore multiple points of view around citizen science, history or journalism.

Projects will be encouraged to explore new models of authorship, ownership or sharing.

Collaborations will be funded by the REACT Hub for a three-month period to develop an innovative prototype and explore its potential market/business model.’

Applications can come from academics at partner universities Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter and University of the West of England as well as those from institutions who make joint projects with partners.

Up for grabs: a commission of £50,000 including a £10,000 R&D grant for the creative company, plus business support.

Application deadline Friday 12 April 2013.
http://www.react-hub.org.uk/future-doc-sandbox

Let us know if you apply – we’d love to hear more!