Despite the fact that more than 80 percent of young cancer patients will survive the disease, it still seems like cancer takes away your life. If it’s not your hair falling out from chemo, then it’s missing out on things like school and friends and activities. Now is your chance to get even. Okay, you probably can’t get *even* with cancer by blasting cancer cells in a video game. But it sure does feel good. And blasting cancer isn’t the only thing you can do in video games. You can also explore cancer and help yourself heal the emotional side of illness.
Here are some of our favorite games for young patients struggling with cancer:
I, Hope is a beautiful coming of age adventure story about a young girl named Hope, whose town has been taken over by Cancer. By fighting cancer in the game, designers hope that players will feel empowered in their own fight against cancer. While there is no overt therapeutic benefit, the game is certainly fun and helps to create awareness for use of games as a way to empower cancer patients. The game is available for $9.99 on the Steam gaming platform, with proceeds going to the GameChanger charity.
Does it feel good to destroy cancer? Sure it does! That Dragon, Cancer is a stress-relief tool for cancer patients, in which players visualize and destroy cancer on a computer screen. The autobiographical game is based on the experience of the game designers’ son, Joel, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at twelve months old, and though only given a short time to live, survived for four more years before eventually succumbing to the cancer in March 2014. The game helps players experience the highs and lows of a cancer journey in the style of a point-and-click adventure game. This moving game (actually more of an “experience”) does a great job of visualizing the cancer journey. Keep a box of tissues handy, because it will bring you to tears. It is available on steam and payment is donation based. The game is available on multiple platforms ($4.99-9.99 or donation-based).
Like the previous two games, ReMission focuses on destroying cancer cells, this time in an arcade-style action format. In fact, ReMission is a collection of six short games that allow players to shoot their cancer. Research by the game studio, HopeLabs, suggests that the game may help kids express feelings of anger surrounding cancer. The game is available for free download or to play online at the ReMission site.
Of course this is one of our favorites, because we built it! Shadow’s Edge is designed to help teens and young adults explore the emotional side of illnesses like cancer. The city of Shadow’s Edge has been decimated by a storm and it’s your job to search the city for the pages of a missing journal. When you find pages, they prompt you to write about things that you might have been thinking about with cancer, like losing friends, or worrying about the future, or feeling overwhelmed. Along the way, bring color back to the city by painting the walls with graffiti. By playing, we hope you can build resilience in the face of serious or chronic illness. (Oh, and it’s FREE, which is a bonus.)
Do you have other favorite cancer games? We would love to hear from you! Help us add to this list of playable resources for young people fighting cancer!