That Dragon, Cancer Drove Me to Prayer

Bryan Hall, Theology Gaming University‘s Community Manager, received a review copy of That Dragon, Cancer. Here are his thoughts, since a “review” in the traditional sense seems a bit unwieldly for this kind of game.

Tabitha and I experienced That Dragon, Cancer together. With Wyatt tucked away in bed for the night, we hooked the laptop up to the television. Light’s dimmed, we entered the world of the Green family. The musical score comforts like a warm blanket. The woods around full of promise and wonder. In this setting we meet the Green’s son, Joel, who is feeding a duck. Joel laughs, a lot. After a transitional time at the playground, we meet the dragon of this story, cancer.

Cancer, represented in jagged distorted shapes of hate. Always lurking like a monster in the night. Howls reverberating as a heartbeat of a sick boy.

That Dragon, Cancer is a series of vignettes, brief flashes of hope and dark nightmares. Narrated at times by Ryan and Amy Green, we follow their family on their journey with Joel. Tabitha and I appreciated the depth of honesty in Amy’s comments on doubt. Doubt is normal, she says. A contrast to the modern Church whispering “hush” in such moments.


No matter how dire the situation became. No matter how hard Amy and Ryan prayed, their faith stood out to us. A faith that allows for questions, doubts, and even fears. Media, as a whole, has a hard time portraying faith. The video game medium allows for an unknown level of intimacy. Allowing us to partake, in some small way, in the Green’s suffering. I’m thankful for that.

As the game ended, I found myself in a contemplative mood. That Dragon, Cancer reminded me of my need to pray. I prayed for Amy, Ryan, and their family. I fell asleep only to wake up sometime later. Praying over life, direction, and meaning.

I would like to thank Ryan and Amy for being real. For sharing Joel’s life and opening up their family to the world.


About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.
  • Sounds like a very somber and real game. I am looking forward to experiencing it. How long did it take to beat, I’m curious. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Zachery Oliver

      I’m not sure how long it took Bryan Hall to complete it, but I’ve heard the length is somewhere in the 2 hour range.

    • Bryan Hall

      You’re welcome! Steam is telling me 2 hours.

  • Doe_Clapton

    Quite ironic how the interactive medium accommodates better a faith-centric creation than films do. I pray that God will continue to work not just through this particular game but to the medium itself as well.

    • Bryan Hall

      When you think of movies like War Room, they kind of hold you at a distance. Sure, the struggle depicted might be engrossing, but it isn’t personal. Not personal in a way an interactive experience is. Can’t wait to see what else comes out.