(Note: This documentary discusses sensitive subject matters that may be difficult for some to watch)
Thank You for Playing, a video game film is one of the few gaming documentaries that has been made into an Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival. But the documentary is so much more than just a film about a game. Ryan and Amy Green faced every parent’s worst nightmare when their infant son Joel was diagnosed with brain cancer. But Ryan, an independent video game developer, imagined that something larger and brighter could come out of his family’s struggle: a poetic video game that would help him share an experience so rarely discussed—raising a child with cancer. This heroic and life-affirming story is documented in Thank You for Playing which will premiere during the 29th season of the PBS series POV (Point of View) on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016 at 10 p.m. (check local listings).
You can see the trailer for the documentary below:
For 18 months, award-winning filmmakers David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall followed Ryan as he created a game called “That Dragon, Cancer,” recruiting his wife and sons into the process of documenting their daily life in Loveland, Colo., for this unusual work of art. Combining footage from both Ryan’s real and animated worlds, Thank You for Playing is a thought-provoking portrait of one family’s determination to respond to an impending tragedy through artistic expression. The film challenges the stereotypical view of video games as superficial or violent, revealing a new movement within the gaming world to create projects that document profound human experiences.
The film also tells a deeply moving love story of a husband and wife helping to keep each other afloat in the midst of a familial crisis by creating something entirely new together. The video game becomes a poetic exploration of a father’s relationship with his son, an interactive painting and a vivid window into the minds of grieving parents.
For filmmakers David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Thank You for Playing is an opportunity to challenge people to reexamine their own assumptions about bereavement, technology and video games. “We wanted to transcend the simple narrative of a family dealing with cancer, and instead examine the ways we handle grief, and the beauty and hope that can be found in art,” they say. “We saw how many people were profoundly moved by Ryan’s game, and how playing it often facilitated more, rather than less, social interaction. The fact that a video game was capable of awakening this sort of empathy astounded us, and we soon realized that Ryan isn’t only a developer, he’s also an artist—and programming is his paintbrush.” – PBS Press Release
About the Game:
“That Dragon, Cancer,” released in January 2016, was developed by Ryan and Amy Green and Josh Larson along with five others at their new studio, Numinous Games. Learn more: www.thatdragoncancer.com.