That Dragon, Cancer: Contemplating life and death in a medium that has frequently trivialized both
Schott, G. R. (2017). That Dragon, Cancer: Contemplating life and death in a medium that has frequently trivialized both. In DiGRA ’17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference (Vol. 14, pp. 1–10). Conference held at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia: Digital Games Research Association.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11325
As a game mechanic, death has primarily been used to punish players for mistakes and failure. Over-reliance on screen-death possibly constitutes one of the most dated aspects of digital games as a contemporary medium. This paper considers why this artefact of historical forms and content persists (Zimmerman, 2007), and in doing so, how it continues to trivialize the otherwise irreversible nature of the cessation of human life, and the sense of loss and grief experienced by those who are close to the deceased. In particular, this paper discusses the game That Dragon, Cancer (Numinous Games, 2016) for the manner in which it contributes towards a redefinition of the relationship between gaming and death. It is argued that the game allows the medium to tackle contemporary Western issues associated with the experience of death, and avoids contributing further to the ‘emotional invigilation’ (Walter et al., 1995) of death via its re-appropriation as an entertainment form. That Dragon, Cancer’s status as a game is also commented on, and defended, in terms of the player experience it offers.
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