To the Moon

To the Moon game art
Photo via Kan Gao, Freebird Games

What is more important - the life that you live, or the one that you might have lived? Robin Basselin and Luke Haley look at a video game that asks this question.

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Luke Haley. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Imagine something that you want to do with your life: a goal. Do you want to go somewhere special? Do you want to work with particular people, or have a family?

Voice 2 

What if you were never able to complete your goals? Would you wish to live your life again? Many people have asked questions like these over the centuries. But there is a recent video game that looks at them in a new way. Today’s Spotlight is on the video game "To the Moon".

Voice 1 

Kan Gao lives in Canada. He is a video game designer. He made To the Moon. So far he has made five games with his independent game company, Freebird Games. But he did not always design video games. When Kan started, he was a college student. He studied business and computers. In his extra time he wrote and made simple games. He used a program called RPG maker X. RPG is short for Role Playing Game. In an RPG, people play a role, or character in a video game. The game has a story that the character moves in and creates. The imaginary world of this story is very important for these kinds of games.

Voice 2 

The story of To The Moon is very personal for Gao. The idea came from several tragic events in his life. He says:

Voice 3 

“A few years ago, my grandfather went into hospital. He needed an immediate operation for a heart condition. He survived the operation just fine. But when I visited him it made me understand that these things are a part of life. This happens to everyone. It made me wonder: when it is my turn to be lying there, will I question what I have done with my life?”

Voice 2 

These questions led Gao to make To the Moon. It took him a year and a half to make. For most of that time, he was at university. He would go to classes, and do his homework. Then, he would work late into the night on his project. Kan also wrote the music for the game. He says that doing both made work on the game easier. When he was unable to finish part of the story, he would write music for that part. And this would help him understand the story better. Music is a very important part of the game. It helps communicate who the characters are. And it fills the story with emotion.

Voice 1 

The story that Gao finally wrote is about a group of scientists in the future. These scientists can go into a person’s memory. They can change how a person remembers their life. But they can only do so right before the person dies. In the game, a person plays as two of these scientists, Dr. Rosaline and Dr. Watts. These two explore a dying person’s memory. His name is Johnny. As he is dying, Johnny wishes that he had gone to the moon. The doctors cannot take him there. But they can replace his memory. Their job is to make him believe that he did go to the moon.

Voice 2 

As the game continues, the player starts to learn more and more about Johnny. The player travels back through his memories. The player sees Johnny when he was a small child. The player witnesses the happiest and the most tragic periods of his life. But through it all the player wonders why a person would have their memories replaced. What was so terrible that Johnny wanted to forget? Is his goal so important that he would give up everything else in his life? Johnny’s story is interesting because it makes us wonder: What is more important - the life that we live, or the one that we might have lived?

Voice 1 

This story was very interesting, but Kan Gao was not sure that his game would be a success. For one thing, the game did not look modern. The tool he used to create the game is not high quality. Most people today think games created like this look old and strange.

Voice 2 

To the Moon also does not play like a traditional game. In most games the player causes events to happen. In To the Moon, he witnesses events. But he does very little to change them. He guides the doctors from one part of Johnny’s memory to another. But there is no way to lose. Because of this, some people do not even think To the Moon is a real game.

Voice 1 

To the Moon is very different from other games. Most game companies have hundreds of people working on a game. Each game costs millions of dollars to make. Kan Gao worked with just three other people. His earlier games did not sell very well. But it had always been his dream to make games. So he and the others at his company worked very hard to make the game as good as possible. They released the game in 2011. No one expected it to be very popular, but it was a great success! It even began to win awards. People who give expert opinions on games gave it good reviews. They said To the Moon was different and interesting. They praised its music and its beautiful story. Some even claimed that the game changed their lives. David Yeager of says:

Voice 4 

“There is joy in this game. It is the kind of joy that makes a grown man like me cry in front of his computer. There is a wonder here that only the best films and books can provide. They make you look at life a little bit differently for a while. They make you wonder how you ever forgot how amazing it is to be alive, to simply exist. This game did that for me.”

Voice 2 

To the Moon was such a success that Kan Gao is now planning another game. He wants to continue making stories about Dr. Rosaline and Dr. Watts. And now many video game players are waiting to play his next game. He is still young, and has many years of making games left. But it seems that by making a game about giving people their dreams, Kan Gao has come closer to living his own.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘To The Moon’.

Voice 2 

Tell us what you think about today’s program. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at And find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

*The music in this program comes from the game "To the Moon", courtesy of Kan Gao

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Would you change your memories to remember your life differently? Why or Why not? Is it more important to remember the facts of your life correctly or to be happy?


Avatar Spotlight
said on May 18, 2015

today was very reflective program.
I did not change anything in my memories.
I am just me
but the idea is very interesting

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 18, 2015

I don’t change my memories to remember my life   differently. The memories are realities that are part
of our lives.

JoaoVBR's avatar
said on August 12, 2015

Very interesting program!
I will try to buy this game. And about the change of memories… I think I would change my memories, but only in my last moments of life, because if I changed them today, my actions and behaviour after the experience would be seen as actions of a crazy man (because the truth is that I didn’t changed the fact)

So… why not change our memories in the last moments of life in order to die with joy and happiness?

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 26, 2016

This is a great game. When I with my wife start play it, we were sceptical. But after several chapters we couldn’t stop and played half night. Story similar on movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. We advise this game to all our friends.

Avatar Spotlight
Johanna Castillo
said on May 26, 2016

What impressing story I loved it, Is just that I love the video games abd I’m a graphic designer and wanna to take an specialisation to develop characters and stories in video games using my hability to illustrate , and Gao from now is an sample to follow herinafter.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on May 26, 2016

I dont like changing my memory because I like to live my life in reality and truth despite the reality and truth are not always good.
Note: I think that if the programs be without pictures it will be easer and better for downlaod it to mp3 especialy for us in the third world when the internet is not good. (For exampel, today’s program was defficlt for downlaod it. It is 13.5 mp cause big picture).

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on May 26, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Thursday 26, May 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Robin Basselin, Dan Christmann, and Luke Haley:

First of all, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
No, I would not. Because I want to keep my current memory and my thought in which has already happened in my life. Yes, it is. To remember good facts and bad facts in which has happend in my life is more important.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos

KatyBlake's avatar
said on June 01, 2016

Kaleb Kolaibi, you may also be interested to know that you can get our programmes delivered directly to your Android or Apple device through our free official ‘Spotlight English’ app.

Avatar Spotlight
said on June 05, 2016

There the interesting fact is existing people are often prone to suppressing, forgetting the bad, black life memories just as on the contrary, keeping better, happy memories
At all events, all our memories represent the unique history of our personal, real life that remains permanently in our mind and it can also appear in our dreams now and again.
Thanks Spotlight for another excellent issue!

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on November 19, 2019

From .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To spotligth program
Subject to answer to the questions below
Location São Paulo city São Paulo Brazil
Tuesday 19, November 2019

Dear Dan Christmann, Luke Haley, and Robin Basselin

I thank you for writing and producing more one great article for us brazilian people and others around the World.
Also, I thank you for bringing us this article for us again. Thank you.
Question 1 - Would you change your memories to remember your life differently?
Answer 1 - No, I would not.
Question 2 - Why or Why not?
Answer 2 - Because I keep my current memories what have happened during all the time of my life.
Question 3 - Is it important to remember the facts of your life correctly or to be happy?
Answer 3 - Yes, it is. The most important is to remember the facts of my life correctly. Not to be happy for some time or during my dreams.
God bless you
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
said on November 20, 2019

No, I never will change my memories of life. Bad or good moments are part of me and have made me like I am now and I am very satisfied with myself and my set mind of life.