That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions

That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions

That Dragon, Cancer is a powerful story about a tragic moment in the lives of the Green family. Their son, Joel, was diagnosed with cancer at 12 months old. The conversation on the game's Steam forums has focused on the morality of making a game about that. Interestingly, the developers are letting it happen. Right now, the forums are a shit show, a mixture of people defending the game's artistry, others seemingly concerned about what the game represents and opportunistic trolls happily tossing matches and hoping one lights up.

It's a volatile mix that's not exactly leading to thoughtful conversation, but in an attempt to keep an open mind, the developers at Numinous Games (which includes the Green family) decided to not lock threads or delete comments:

Hi Everyone, as we're reading through the forums to answer questions and support players, we're seeing some locked threads and frustration about missing comments. We just want you to know that as far as we're concerned you have the right to believe and say what you want. We do NOT currently lock threads or delete comments. If you are seeing any, we did not do it. It is our understanding that sometimes Steam moderators may lock threads.

That said, our hope is that you find some common humanity on this board. We all suffer, we all have pain. Our hope is that at the very least, our existence on this store can inspire personal conversations that draw us together, rather than divide us.

Thank you for your support and your passion,

-Ryan

(Ryan is Joel's father.)

Some of that is out of their control, however, as Steam-appointed moderators will take action if things are found to be violating the service's terms of service.

When games of a certain type come out, there's usually a debate over whether it's a "game". It happened with Gone Home, it happened with Depression Quest, it will happen with something else. People seem to have skipped past that with That Dragon, Cancer and began questioning the motives of the people who built it.

That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions

There are dozens of comments I could have picked from, but it's hard to know who's being sincere. In this case, it does seem like they are genuinely interested.

To be clear, while That Dragon, Cancer is intended to make money — they spent several years of their life making it! — it's also intended to contribute to charity.

Ouya was an early investor in the game's development, but Ouya was eventually bought up by Razer. If you buy the game through Ouya's storefront or Razer's Cortex platform, Razer's proceeds are being distributed to different charities picked by the Greens: the Morgan Adams Foundation and Family House SF.

Additionally, 10 per cent of the profits for Steam keys bought through Humble Bundle are being donated to the Morgan Adams Foundation.

This is all public information, and yet...

That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions

What's worth remembering is how easy it is for a few people to dominate a conversation. That poster, in particular, has obsessed over this topic, despite their own Steam profile showing they don't own a copy of the game. (Granted, they technically could have purchased That Dragon, Cancer on another platform.)

Take a look:

That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions

It goes on and on, too.

And yet, this person is not alone.

That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions
That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions

Everything I've read about That Dragon, Cancer suggests its creation was a form of catharsis for the Green family, an avenue to cope with the nightmare in front of them. They strike me as genuine people who loved their son, and while it's true That Dragon, Cancer is a heavy subject for a game, it's one I'm celebrating.

In fact, that's how many people feel, despite what the Steam forums hint at.

That Dragon, Cancer's Developers Are OK With Arsehole Steam Discussions

When I asked the developers about everything that's happened, about the hateful questions and accusations slung their way, they stuck to their guns.

"Our game has always been a difficult project for some people to relate to," said the developers in a joint statement. "We understand that it is not for everyone. Throughout development, there has been a lot of discussion around the internet about what our intentions are and whether or not we are creating something that is acceptable and good."

It doesn't appear they will be changing their policy on Steam — or anywhere else. Instead, they're going to allow That Dragon, Cancer to speak for itself.

"We knew that if we were to step in and make statements to defend our intentions it would have a dampening effect on the conversation," they said, "and we love good conversation and debate. We love that people are talking about what games can be, what makes something Art, and how we should value each other's work. We don't want that conversation to stop happening, and if we have to deal with a handful of malicious forum posts in order for that conversation to continue to happen we are willing to turn the other cheek."

For the moment, the developers are focused on fixing bugs and gathering feedback, the typical motions one goes through after a game has just launched.

"We have crafted something that we are proud of," they said. "It cost us a lot emotionally, psychologically and financially, but giving our son's short life this kind of platform has been worth everything it cost us, because sharing our love for Joel is worth any amount of hardship."

To some, that will only underline what they loved about the game in the first place. To the ridiculous cynics, it may only reinforce what they have been worried about all along. I feel bad for those people.

WATCH MORE: Gaming News


Comments

    Wow, some people are such dicks.

      There's missing the point entirely, and then there's openly embracing complete and utter dickishness. These jagoffs didn't miss the point...

      If a game is shit, just because the maker has a sad story does not excuse it.

    Something that should always be remembered - the Steam Discussions areas are festering black pits of uselessness.

      Hard to figure what is worse, Steam forum commentary, or Youtube commentary.

    If your immediate and over-riding feeling once you get to this part of the page is not one of pure abject EMBARRASSMENT you clearly don't understand what you read above.

    Horrific.

    so what if they made it for money. they're a game developer. and for them, it was probably a grieving process too. its not a black or white situation. there are so many factors involved in they 'WHY' of this game.
    fuck the haters coz haters gonna hate.

    Of course 10% of profits from all Humble Bundle games goes to charity, so there's nothing new there.

    There's also a lot of heavy-handed religious themes and proselytising later in the story which I found really annoying.

      But is it in context?

        That's up to you.

        It probably what helped the father Ryan deal with the loss, but to me it only undermined the emotional impact of what is already a tragic story. It kind of becomes more about Ryan than about Joel.

    The pain they've been through, the story they've shared with us and the time they've put into bringing it to us in such a tactful, dignified and classy way, these devs deserve to make a little something from it. It's not like they're grabbing the money and blowing it on hookers and coke. They're going to always have that void in their life from missing their child, they're never going to be the same again, if this helps them alleviate that horrible burden just a bit, so be it.

    And those who would condemn them for it can go fucking die in a fire. A lot of us have lost people to cancer, I have, whoevers reading this, probably has to. It's a dreadful, mortifying thing. Not something at all to envy.

    Last edited 18/01/16 11:18 am

    While I am absolutely disgusted about what I have read both above and in Steam comments, I didn't buy the game based on a comment made by a Steam user (who incidentally was mindlessly shot down by other users).

    Simply put and as part of his clearly thought out critique he had issues with how much Christian faith plays a role in the game. This is something that has been rarely mentioned in most critic circles.

    One particular sequence includes the parents explaining to their older children that God is a warrior who stands beside people who suffer from cancer. This is pretty profound stuff and as someone who is a humanist (I hate the term atheist) I feel that — beyond the human tragedy itself — it was asking too much of me to accept this as I “played” the game.

      And your response is perfectly ok because you asserted it in a clear and reasonable fashion free of teenage angst and fuckwittery

    Yeah, i think they're just modeling the values they hold dear - representing the best way to handle dissonance. It says more about how judgemental and entitled we feel that everyone else is making a bigger deal out of it than the people actually at the centre of it.

    It's well documented that this game was a cathartic process for a grieving family.
    It most likely won't set the world on fire with sales. It's blatantly obvious that it's existence is more about spreading a message than earning cash. And the cash is being allocated to charitabke means.
    The people raging against this are your typical forum dwelling fuckwits.

    Perhaps if these critics didn't have such binary thought patterns they would be happier people and not lash out like little babies when they don't like something.

    Lol. Piping up about this game monetizing death and exploiting them feels. Meanwhile Guns N Broses 2k** and the like go on unscathed. Never change internet. Never. Change.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now