Four years ago, Ryan and Amy Green learned that their baby son Joel’s rare cancer was terminal – they were devastated. Searching for a way to explore his feelings, Ryan, an indie video game developer, found solace in the most appropriate creative outlet he knew: a video game. Thank You for Playing follows Ryan as he creates a game called “That Dragon, Cancer,” and recruits his wife and sons into the process of documenting their daily life for this unusual work of art. His video game is a poetic exploration of a father’s relationship with his son, an interactive painting, a vivid window into the mind of a grieving parent.
Throughout his creative process, Ryan must decide where to draw the line in sharing his family’s experiences of raising a dying child. From having his sons reenact difficult conversations, to recording Joel’s giggle, to painstakingly photographing every detail of the hospital, Ryan’s life becomes consumed by the complicated process of creating a digital world that mirrors his own.
Combining footage from both Ryan’s real and animated worlds, Thank You for Playing follows his journey of encoding his life into an experience that is “playable” by others, as he continues to care for his son.