When Amy Green’s young son was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, she made up a bedtime story for his siblings to teach them about cancer. What resulted was a video game, “That Dragon, Cancer,” which takes players on a journey they can’t win. In this beautiful talk about coping with loss, Green brings joy and play to tragedy. “We made a game that’s hard to play,” she says, “because the hardest moments of our lives change us more than any goal we could ever accomplish.”

エイミー・グリーンの幼い息子がまれな脳腫瘍と診断されたとき、彼女はがんについて子供たちに教えるために就寝時の物語を作りました。その結果生まれたのが、プレイヤーが勝利できない旅に連れて行くビデオゲーム、「That Dragon, Cancer」です。この喪失との向き合い方についての美しいトークで、Greenは悲劇に喜びと遊びをもたらします。「私たちはプレイしにくいゲームを作りました」と彼女は言います。「なぜなら、私たちの人生で最も困難な瞬間が、私たちが達成できる目標よりも私たちを変えるからです。”

A video game to cope with grief
スピーカー エイミー・グリーン
アップロード 2017/05/18

「悲しみに対処するためのビデオゲーム(A video game to cope with grief)」の文字起こし

Two months ago, my kids and I huddled around a cell phone watching the live stream of the Game Awards, one of the video game industry’s biggest nights. They announced the nominees for the Game for Impact, an award that’s given to a thought-provoking video game with a profound prosocial message or meaning. They opened the envelope and they read the title of our video game. An award … for impact. It was almost funny, actually, because I always thought that winning an award like that would have this huge impact on my life, but I found that the opposite is true. The big nights, the accomplishments — they fade. But the hardest nights of my life have stuck with me, impacting who I am and what I do.

In 2010, my third son, Joel, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumor. And before that year was finished, doctors sat my husband and I down and let us know that his tumor had returned despite the most aggressive chemotherapy and radiation that they could offer him. On that terrible night, after learning that Joel had perhaps four months to live, I cuddled up with my two older sons in bed — they were five and three at the time — and I never really knew how much they understood, so I started telling them a bedtime story. I told them about this very brave knight named Joel and his adventure fighting a terrible dragon called cancer. Every night, I told them more of the story, but I never let the story end. I was just building up a context that they could understand and hoping that our prayers would be answered and I would never have to tell them that that knight, who had fought so bravely, was done fighting and could rest now, forever.

Fortunately, I never did have to finish that bedtime story. My children outgrew it. Joel responded better than anyone expected to palliative treatment, and so instead of months, we spent years learning how to love our dying child with all of our hearts. Learning to recognize that shameful feeling of holding back just a little love to try to spare ourselves just a little pain somewhere further down the road. We pushed past that self-preservation because Joel was worth loving even if that love could crush us. And that lesson of intense vulnerability has changed me … more than any award ever could.

We started living like Joel could live, and we began developing a video game called “That Dragon, Cancer.” It was the story of Joel. It was the story of hope in the shadow of death. It was the story of faith and doubt, and the realization that a wrestle with doubt is a part of faith — maybe the biggest part of it. It was a story that began as a miracle and ended as a memorial.

Dad: Bouncing around, do you like that? I love your giggle.

When you play “That Dragon, Cancer,” you’re transformed into a witness of Joel’s life, exploring an emotional landscape, clicking to discover more of what we as a family felt and experienced. It feels a little bit like analyzing interactive poetry because every game mechanic is a metaphor, and so the more the player asks themselves what we as designers were trying to express and why, the richer the experience becomes.

We took that vulnerability that Joel taught us, and we encoded the game with it. Players expect their video games to offer them branching narrative so that every decision that they make feels important and can change the outcome of the game. We subverted that principle of game design, collapsing the choices in on the player so that they discover for themselves that there is nothing that they can do that will change the outcome for Joel. And they feel that discovery as deeply and desperately as we felt it on nights when we held Joel in our arms praying for hours, stubbornly holding out hope for a grace that we could not create for ourselves.

We’d all prefer to win, but when you discover that you can’t win, what do you value instead? I never planned to write video games, but these moments that really change our lives, they often come as the result of our hardship — and not our glory. When we thought that Joel could live, I left the game designing to my husband. I chimed in here and there with a scene or two and some suggestions. But after the night that Joel died, the passion, the possibility of sharing Joel’s life through our video game — it was something that I couldn’t resist.

I started writing more, I sat in on our team’s design meetings, I added more ideas and I helped direct scenes. And I discovered that creating a video game is telling a story, but with an entirely new vocabulary. All the same elements of imagination and symbolism are there, but they’re just partnered with player agency and system responsiveness. It’s challenging work. I have to think in a totally new way to do it, but I love it. And I wouldn’t have known that without Joel.

Maybe you’re a little surprised by our choice to share our story of terminal cancer through a video game. Perhaps you’re even thinking like so many people before you: cancer is not a game. Well, tell that to any pediatric cancer parent that’s ever taken an exam glove and blown it up into a balloon, or transformed a syringe into a rocket ship, or let their child ride their IV pole through the hospital halls like it was a race car. Because when you have children, everything is a game. And when your young child experiences something traumatic, you work even harder to make sure that their life feels like a game because children naturally explore their worlds through play.

While cancer can steal many things from a family, it shouldn’t steal play. If you’re listening to me and you’re trying to imagine this family that revolves entirely around a dying child, and you can’t imagine joy as part of that picture, then we were right to share our story with you, because that season of our life was hard.

Unspeakably hard at times, but it was also pure hope, deep love, and joy like I have never experienced since. Our video game was our attempt to share that world with people who hadn’t experienced it before because we never could imagine that world until it became ours. We made a video game that’s hard to play. It will never be a blockbuster. People have to prepare themselves to invest emotionally in a story that they know will break their hearts. But when our hearts break, they heal a little differently.

My broken heart has been healing with a new and a deeper compassion — a desire to sit with people in their pain, to hear their stories and try to help tell them so that they know that they’re seen. On the night when “That Dragon, Cancer” won the Game for Impact Award, we cheered, we smiled, and we talked about Joel and the impact he had on our life — on all of those hard and hopeful nights that we shared with him when he changed our hearts and taught us so much more about life and love and faith and purpose.

That award will never mean as much to me as even a single photograph of my son, but it does represent all of the people who his life has impacted, people I’ll never meet. They write me emails sometimes. They tell me that they miss Joel, even though they never met him. They describe the tears that they’ve shed for my son, and it makes my burden of grief just a little bit lighter knowing that it’s shared with a 10-year-old watching a YouTube playthrough, or a doctor playing on his airplane with a smartphone, or a professor introducing Joel to her first-year philosophy students.

We made a video game that’s hard to play. But that feels just right to me because the hardest moments of our lives change us more than any goal we could ever accomplish. Tragedy has shifted my heart more than any dream I could ever see come true. Thank you.

「悲しみに対処するためのビデオゲーム(A video game to cope with grief)」の和訳

2ヶ月前、子どもたちと一緒に携帯電話を囲んで、ビデオゲーム業界最大の夜の一つである「Game Awards」のライブ配信を見ていました。「Game for Impact」という賞のノミネートが発表されました。この賞は、深い社会的メッセージや意味を持つ、考えさせられるビデオゲームに贈られるものです。封筒が開かれ、私たちのビデオゲームのタイトルが読み上げられました。インパクトのある賞・・・。実際、それはほとんど笑ってしまうくらいです。というのも、そのような賞を受賞することが私の人生に大きな影響を与えるとずっと思っていましたが、実際にはその逆だと感じました。大きな夜や達成は一時的なものです。しかし、私の人生で最も辛かった夜は、私に深い影響を与え、私が誰であり、何をするかに影響を与えました。



ジョエルが生きることができると信じて、私たちは「That Dragon, Cancer」というビデオゲームを開発し始めました。それはジョエルの物語であり、死の影の中での希望の物語でした。それは信仰と疑いの物語であり、疑いとの闘いが信仰の一部、もしかするとその最も大きな部分であるという気づきの物語でした。その物語は奇跡から始まり、記念碑で終わりました。

父親: 飛び跳ねてるのが好きなの? 君の笑い声が大好きだよ。

「That Dragon, Cancer」をプレイすると、プレイヤーはジョエルの人生の目撃者となり、感情の風景を探検し、私たち家族が感じたことや経験したことを発見するためにクリックします。それはインタラクティブな詩を分析するようなものであり、すべてのゲームメカニクスがメタファーです。プレイヤーが私たちデザイナーが何を表現しようとしていたのか、そしてなぜそうしたのかを自問するほど、体験は豊かになります。


誰もが勝ちたいと思うものですが、勝てないと気づいたとき、代わりに何を大切にしますか? 私はビデオゲームを書くつもりはなかったのですが、人生を本当に変える瞬間は、栄光ではなく困難の結果として訪れることが多いのです。ジョエルが生きるかもしれないと思っていた時は、ゲームデザインは夫に任せていました。私はここそこでシーンや提案を出す程度でした。しかし、ジョエルが亡くなった夜の後、ビデオゲームを通じてジョエルの人生を共有するという情熱と可能性は、私には抗えないものでした。





私の壊れた心は、新しく深い共感によって癒されてきました。それは、人々の痛みの中に座り込み、その物語を聞いて伝える手助けをすることで、彼らが見られていることを感じてもらいたいという願いです。「That Dragon, Cancer」がゲーム・フォー・インパクト賞を受賞した夜、私たちは歓声を上げ、笑顔を見せ、ジョエルのことを語り合いました。彼が私たちの人生に与えた影響、彼と共有した困難で希望に満ちた夜々、彼が私たちの心を変え、人生や愛、信仰、目的について多くのことを教えてくれたことについて話しました。